Identity Construction in a Foreign Land: Native-Speaking English Teachers and the Contestation of Teacher Identities in Hong Kong Schools
This chapter reports on a qualitative study that explored the discursive positioning of native-speaking English teachers (NETs) within schools in Hong Kong. It draws on insights from discourse theory to examine NETs self-positioning, as well as their positioning by other stakeholders, as part of a dynamic process of identity formation. The participants were eight teachers who were employed in both primary and secondary schools under the Hong Kong Governments Native English Teacher Scheme. In-depth interviews with each of the participants were used to understand how the teachers discursively positioned themselves, as well as how they believed they were positioned by others, within their schools. The findings suggest that the NETs self-positioning as ‘professional language teachers’ was challenged by other stakeholders who questioned the value of their teaching experience and practices within the context of English language classrooms in Hong Kong. The chapter explores how NETs attempted to negotiate the antagonism between different positionings. Implications for attracting and retaining NETs, as well as for future research, are also discussed.
KeywordsTeaching Practice Language Learning Subject Position Identity Work English Teacher
- Bhabha, H. (1990). The third space. Interview with Homi Bhabha. In J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity: Community, culture, difference (pp. 207–221). London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
- Biggs, J. (1996). Western misperceptions of the Confucian-heritage learning culture. In D. Watkins & J. Biggs (Eds.), The Chinese learner: Cultural, psychological and contextual influences (pp. 45–67). Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre.Google Scholar
- Danielewicz, J. (2001). Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy, and teacher education. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Davies, B., & Harré, R. (1999). Positioning and personhood. In R. Harré & L. van Langenhove (Eds.), Positioning theory (pp. 32–52). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Education Commission. (2006). Progress Report on the Education Reform (4). Hong Kong: Education Commission.Google Scholar
- Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power (2nd ed.). Harlow: Pearson Educational Limited.Google Scholar
- Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Forrester, V., & Lok, B. (2008). Native English teachers in Hong Kong: Building communities of practice? Asian Social Science, 4, 3–11.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
- Griffin, P., Woods, K., Storey, P., Wong, E. K. P., & Fung, W. Y. W. (2007). Evaluation of the native-speaking English teacher scheme for primary schools in Hong Kong. http://www.edb.gov.hk/FileManager/EN/Content_2076/twe%20ev%2004-06(final)-whole.pdf. Accessed 10 Dec 2008.
- Hall, S. (2000). Who needs ‘identity’? In P. du Gay & J. Evans (Eds.), Identity: A reader (pp. 15–30). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Herron, L. (2008, November 29). NETs’ relations to local teachers focus of review. South China Morning Post. Education Supplement.Google Scholar
- Holliday, A. (2005). The struggle to teach English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Johnston, B. (1999). The expatriate teacher as postmodern paladin. Research in the Teaching of English, 34, 255–280.Google Scholar
- Jorgensen, M., & Phillips, L. (2002). Discourse analysis as theory and method. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Law, F. (2007). Speeches and articles by Secretary for Education. http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeID=134&langno=1&UID=826. Accessed 10 Dec 2008.
- Li, A. K. C. (2002). Speeches and articles by Secretary for Education. http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeID=133&langno=1&UID=715. Accessed 10 Dec 2008.
- Luk, J. C. M., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2007). Classroom interaction as cross-cultural encounters. Native speakers in EFL lessons. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Merriam, S. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Moghaddam, F. (1999). Reflexive positioning: Culture and private discourse. In R. Harre & L. van Langenhove (Eds.), Positioning theory (pp. 74–86). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Olsen, B. (2008). Introducing teacher identity. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35, 3–6.Google Scholar
- Pennycook, A. (2001). English in the world/the world in English. In A. Burns & C. Coffin (Eds.), Analysing English in a global context (pp. 78–89). Oxford: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Schatzki, T. (2002). The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
- Storey, P., Luk, J., Gray, J., Wang-Kho, E., & Lin, A. (2001). Monitoring and evaluation of the native-speaking English teacher scheme. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Education.Google Scholar
- Suen, M. M. Y. (2008). Speeches and articles by Secretary for Education. http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeid=133&langno=1&UID=103112. Accessed 10 Dec 2008.
- Surtees, P. (2008, December 6). Mundane tasks deny highly qualified NETs professional fulfillment. South China Morning Post. Education Supplement.Google Scholar
- Tang, G., & Johnson, R. (1993). Implementing language change in Hong Kong schools: An ecological approach to evaluation. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 4, 31–47.Google Scholar
- Tham, S. (2008). A United Nations of English language teaching in Hong Kong. http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeid=7021&langno=1. Accessed 10 Dec 2008.
- Torfing, J. (1999). New theories of discourse. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Tsui, A. (2007). Complexities of identity formation: A narrative inquiry of an EFL teacher. TESOL Quarterly, 41, 657–680.Google Scholar
- Tsui, A., & Tollefson, J. (2007). Language policy and the construction of national cultural identity. In A. Tsui & J. Tollefson (Eds.), Language policy, culture, and identity in Asian contexts (pp. 1–21). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Van Langenhove, L., & Harre, R. (1999). Introducing positioning theory. In R. Harré & L. van Langenhove (Eds.), Positioning theory (pp. 14–31). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and practice. New tools for critical discourse analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Walker, E. (2001). Roles of native-speaker English teachers (NETs) in Hong Kong secondary schools. Asia Pacific Journal of Language in Education, 4, 51–77.Google Scholar
- Weedon, C. (1997). Feminist practice and poststructuralist theory (2nd ed.). London: Blackwell.Google Scholar