The role of assessment in L2 learning and teaching: mediating selves

Riikka Alanen & Elina Törmä (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Assessment is an integral part of formal education, including instructed foreign language learning. Most assessment is conducted by the teacher in the classroom and its main aim can be conceptualized as supporting pupil’s learning and self-concept. Assessment relies on the development of the teacher’s own identity and is connected to teacher’s own practical theory as well as influenced by other contextual factors. By looking at how student teachers perceive assessment we aim to identify the factors that are connected to student teachers’ development of self as learners and teachers of foreign languages. It also gives us an opportunity to examine the basis of their understanding of assessment in their teaching practice. The data consist of 30 learner autobiographies from a longitudinal study following the university careers of student teachers of foreign languages in Finland. The students were asked to reflect back on their time in school as part of a basic course in education they took in the first year of their studies. Although they were not specifically asked to write about assessment, it emerged as a powerful theme in their writings. To find out what meanings the student teachers linked to assessment, the data were subjected to qualitative content analysis (Mayring 2000, Hsieh & Shannon 2006).The findings show that assessment has a pervasive presence in learner autobiographies. As expected, the students write about a high stakes national school leaving examination, the only one of its kind in Finland. However, assessment and achievement emerge as powerful themes in the students’ texts even when they write about their very first school years. It is suggested that assessment plays an important mediating role in the students’ appropriation of self-related beliefs (Mercer 2012) as potential L2 learners and teachers.

Multilingualism on her mind: Stories of identity and beliefs from a teacher of multiple languages

Åsta Haukås (University of Bergen, Norway)

This study explores the identities and beliefs of a multilingual teacher who has experience from learning and teaching several languages. Based mainly on theories of multilingualism and teacher identity, the following research questions guided the development of the study:

  • To what extent and how does a teacher’s experience of learning multiple languages shape her identities as a teacher of multiple languages?
  • To what extent has the teacher constructed distinct teacher identities for the various languages she teaches?

Studies of autobiographic narratives can be fruitful to get insights into teachers’ thoughts and experiences, and to how they shape their identities. In the present study, data was collected in the following way. An experienced teacher with fluency in five languages and with experience from teaching four of them was invited to take part in the project. During the first six months of 2015, the teacher regularly wrote texts about her language learning experiences and teaching practices and sent them to the researcher. Altogether, the teacher wrote 60 000 words. Data analysis is still in progress and first results will be presented at the conference. Following Pavlenko (2007), the analysis will pay attention to the interdependence of content, form, and context. First, to identify emerging themes and patterns in the data, I will use deductive content analysis with predefined categories mainly from multilingualism theory and theories on teacher identity. Second, an analysis of how the teacher positions herself as a language learner and teacher through the use of metaphors, tense shifts, adverbials, and emotives will contribute to a deepened understanding of her identity constructions. Finally, I will pay attention to both global and local contextual factors which may have influenced the teacher’s narratives.

Linguistic identities in the making – multilingual and multimodal perspectives

Riitta Kelly (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Language learning in a multilingual environment is an interesting process, which is influenced by the personal characteristics and the particular linguistic environment of the learner. Most often, our linguistic environment consists of spoken languages, but how do the language learning process and the linguistic environment look like if one of the languages involved is a signed language? Learner beliefs have been recognized as a valuable source of information on language learning (e.g. Kalaja et al. 2008) and can be seen as dynamic (e.g. Dufva 2003). Learner experiences of signing students have been examined by Csizér and Kormos (2009), English in the everyday life of FinSL signers by Tapio (2013), and learner beliefs of signing students by Kelly (2009) and Kelly et al. (2015). This qualitative case study focuses in detail on the language identity and learner beliefs of a Finnish Sign Language (FinSL) signer studying at the university. In Finland, Finnish Sign Language is a minority language. However, English as an international language as well as internationally used sign languages enable the student to take part in international communities. The data in this study consists of two interviews and relevant course work at a compulsory English course at the University Language Centre. The focus of the interviews is on how the student sees her language identity and her views on learning languages. Since language identities appear not to be static, but they seem to be evolving and developing, gaining a better understanding on how the multimodal and multilingual environment form a part of the language learning process can also bring new insights on how signing students should be taught languages.

Shaken identities and newly-won perspectives: The impact of globalization on English language teachers in Austria

Petra Kletzenbauer (University of Applied Sciences FH JOANNEUM, Austria), Alia Moser (University of Graz, Austria), & Andrea Kulmhofer (University of Graz & BIFIE (Department of Educational Standards & International Assessments), Austria)

Being flexible, highly-qualified, dedicated, and engaged in continual professional development are just a few expectations of the ELT teacher working in a globalizing world. Not only at university but also at secondary levels, strategies of internationalization have affected their professional identities due to topics that go beyond the general ELT syllabus (i.e. CLIL, international research projects, and teacher training). As teachers are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone – a situation causing their traditional teaching roles to alter – the impact on teacher identity is immense. Hence, “the professional, cultural, political, and individual identities which they claim or which are assigned to them” (Varghese et al. 2005: 22) need to be investigated to get a clearer sense of who these teachers are. In our paper, we want to explore the re-defined roles of six Austrian ELT teachers – teaching either at secondary or tertiary levels – facing the pressures of globalization. Seeing teachers as ”active, thinking decision-makers [] by drawing on [] networks of knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs” (Borg 2003: 81), we based our research on written autobiographies and narrative profiles to get a unique perspective into these teachers’ inner voices, thus providing us with a better understanding of what drives changing teacher identities. The findings of this qualitative study highlight the role of identity, notions of self, and other psychological factors (i.e. pressure, increased stress) as drivers for changes in language teachers’ identities by addressing skills and competencies beyond those traditionally defined for this professional field.


Borg, S. (2003).Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36(2), 81-109.

Varghese, M., Morgan, B., Johnston, B., & Johnson, K. A. (2005).Theorizing language teacher identity: Three perspectives and beyond. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 4(1), 21-44.

When motivation research motivates: Issues in investigating long-term L2 motivational patterns

Martin Lamb (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)

Increasing awareness of how individual motivation to learn language can fluctuate and change puts a premium on longitudinal research methods which can track learners over set periods of time. Revisiting previous research participants is one means of effecting this. In this presentation I will report on follow-up studies of a research project in Indonesia, which produced qualitative data at five points in time (2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2013/15) on nine of the twelve learners in the original study. Thematic data analysis shows the durability of some self-concepts and dispositions, but also the presence of some ’motivational transformation episodes’ (Shoaib & Dörnyei 2005) in several participants. In this presentation I will focus on one of the more surprising findings, which was that my own interactions with the participants over the years had helped to shape their motivational trajectories. This influence appeared to come about through the authority participants invested in the researcher, and the inspiration they drew from extended contact with a foreigner. The findings therefore lend some support to the long-term motivating power of ’ought-to’ and ’ideal’ L2 selves (Dörnyei, 2009). In highlighting these researcher effects, the presentation emphasises the need for motivation researchers, or indeed any researchers probing the psychological characteristics of language learners over time, to show reflexivity in designing and carrying out longitudinal studies, especially when interpreting interview data. The identification of possible negative effects in one learner also raises ethical issues about participant selection.


Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The L2 Motivational Self System. In Z. Dornyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (pp. 9-42). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Shoaib, A., & Dörnyei, Z. (2005). Affect in life-long learning: Exploring L2 motivation as a dynamic process. In P. Benson & D. Nunan (Eds.), Learners’ Stories (pp. 22-41). Cambridge: University of Cambridge.

CLIL Teacher identity: an investment perspective

Chiara Liberio (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)

This paper presents an exploration of CLIL teacher identity from an investment perspective (Norton, 1995, 2000, 2013) and considers the links with teachers’ language and curricular choices in a CLIL curriculum involving teaching one’s subject in a foreign language. It reports the findings of a qualitative study investigating CLIL teacher (N=16) attitudes, beliefs and experiences in a framework of initial mandatory CLIL implementation. Italian secondary school teachers were administered semi-structured interviews in the first year of mandatory implementation. In this context CLIL teachers are regarded as both teachers and learners, as they had chosen to undergo language and methodological training in order to be able to teach their subject in a foreign language. Moreover, to add to the complexity, teachers are also implementers of language policy in a context that requires them to proactively choose materials and methods. The exploratory design of the study allowed to capture emergent themes. Teachers construed their language experiences as socially constructed and displayed different degrees of investment and participation in L2 communication during the CLIL class. Moreover, teaching their subject in an L2 offered teachers new identity options, which in turn reflected on their curricular choices. Teacher identity, investment and personal agency are central concern in shaping CLIL experiences, since in CLIL much depends on grass root initiatives. The paper contributes to exploration CLIL teacher identity from a sociolinguistic perspective and findings are relevant for teacher training and program implementation.


Norton, B. (1995). Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9–31.

Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. Harlow, England: Longman/Pearson Education.

Norton, B. (2013). Identity and Language Learning. Extending the Conversation (2nd edn.). Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto: Multilingual Matters.

University students and current/future English discourse community membership

Dawn Lucovich (Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan)

L2 learner identity has been informed by the paradigms of possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986), imagined selves (Wenger, 1998), and ideal selves (see Dornyei, 2005). Although much research has been conducted on the L2 identity of individual language learners, comparatively less research has been carried out on individual language learners’ L2 identity as members of discourse communities and especially their relationship to other members of their L1 and L2 discourse communities. Contrary to Markus (2006), university language learners may not be able to envision future English discourse community membership and may instead perceive English as a classroom-bound discourse community. They may lack connections and a sense of identity vis-a-vis other L1/L2 English discourse communities. Data from students (n=106) at a private university in Japan will be presented and  discussed. Students reported their motivations and future objectives after joining a competitive English program via a questionnaire while a 10-item survey instrument assessed their perceived membership as – and in relation to – other members of English-speaking discourse communities. In this presentation, previous findings will be further enriched by semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted as a follow-up. While the learners had concrete motivations for joining the program, their sense of membership as English speakers was less developed, particularly in relation to L1 English speakers. Thus, research-based recommendations for developing stronger L2 discourse community identities for language learners will also be presented.


Dornyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41, 954–969.

Markus, H. (2006). Foreword. In C. Dunkel and J. Kerpelman (Eds.). Possible Selves: Theory, research and applications (pp. xi-xivv). New York: Nova Science.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The development of L2 identity among Anglophones during residence abroad

Rosamond Mitchell (University of Southampton, United Kingdom)

To interpret variability in L2 learning success, there is increasing interest both in learner motivation, and in broader conceptualisations of L2 identity (Benson et al., 2013; Block, 2007; Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2009). Identity theory itself has moved beyond a deterministic view of structural factors such as gender or nationality toward conceptualisations allowing a greater role for agency and self-identification. This paper explores the emerging L2 identity during residence abroad of Anglophone (British) students of languages, a distinctive group who reject the prevailing ideology of English monolingualism. Efforts to encourage Anglophones both to study languages and/or to venture abroad, currently rely heavily on employability arguments (e.g. Hurley et al. 2016); such efforts need to be better informed about current sojourners’ motivations and identity. The study reported tracked a group of 57 undergraduates, throughout a year-long sojourn in France, Spain or Mexico; relevant data include questionnaire surveys of multicultural personality and social networking, as well as regular interviews and limited participant observation. The paper explores the origins of sojourners’ initial multicultural orientation through analysis of pre-departure interviews. Secondly, interviews and observations in-sojourn are analysed to trace further identity development abroad. Two main components are identified: a general ”coming of age” process as young adults, plus strong enhancement of feelings of self-efficacy as L2 speakers. Most sojourners however do not identify long-term with the particular location visited, sustain strong home links, and envisage their future L2 self as ”multilingual” rather than e.g. ”French” or ”Spanish”.


Benson, P., et al. (2013). Second language identity in narratives of study abroad. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Block, D. (2007). Second language identities. London: Continuum.

Dörnyei, Z. & Ushioda, E. (2009). Motivation, language identity and the L2 self. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Hurley, D., et al. (2016). Gone international: The value of mobility. London: UK HE International Unit.

A teacher-in-context: Negotiating professional identity during the job promotion exam

Dorota Werbinska (Pomeranian University, Poland)

Although there is an increasing body of research on the formation/re-formation of language teacher professional identity, there are still contexts of the language teacher’s professional practice that remain hardly explored. One such context is an oral examination situation encountered by experienced language teachers in Poland who aspire to being promoted in their teacher professional ranks. Drawing on the three-A (affiliation, attachment, autonomy) model of professional identity, I will focus on the narratives of 10 examinees who are in-service English language teachers (purposive sample) in the hope to discover: 1) what ”repertoires” (Kalaja, 2015) the participants employ with regard to their interpretations of the language teaching profession (affiliation), 2) how they index themselves as language teacher practitioners (attachment), 3) how they express their agency through canonical self-presentations and responses to examiners’ questions (autonomy). In addition to addressing the research questions, the findings seem to give insights into what projected images of language teachers the examinees perceive as the right ones in the teacher promotion examination context, in which moments/topics of the interviews they choose the role of passive interlocutors, and which aspects of language teaching they feel ready to question. Although the study is set in the Polish context, it may contribute to the knowledge on language teacher identity (re)construction in general through its focus on one area of language teachers’ professional practice – taking a teacher promotion exam.


Kalaja, P. (2015). Student teachers’ beliefs about L1 and L2 discursively constructed: A longitudinal study of interpretative repertoires. In: P. Kalaja, A.M.F. Barcelos, M. Aro & M. Ruohotie-Lyhty, Beliefs, agency and identity in foreign language learning and teaching. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

The impact of identity-related processes on TBLL: A case study of Bosnia and Herzegovina English language undergraduates

Svetlana Mitic (Banja Luka University, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

This paper presents the findings of a study conducted as part of the English integrated skills module with the first-year English language undergraduates from Banja Luka University, Bosnia and Herzegovina, examining the potential effects of identity-related processes (identity formation/consolidation and negotiation) on task-based language learning (TBLL). The task propositions allowed the students to independently select the topic(s), work procedure and end product medium and form, as well as to choose between individual, pair and group work. The structure of the tasks used and the potential of identity negotiation are assessed in relation to the students’ English proficiency improvement and selected aspects of identity/identity formation/consolidation, as perceived by the students themselves. To that end, two surveys were conducted, one on the students’ self-concept, perception of others and a range of L1 and L2-related cultural identity markers, and another on the thematic and procedural relevance of the task structure (personal and group dynamics; decision making and position along the group leader-group follower range vs. prefered type of activity vs. self-perceived language learning and use ability and preferences; personal vs. group contribution to task completion). The survey findings are compared to the students’ papers produced during and following the tasks and analysed using literal, interpretive and reflexive coding.


Dörnyei, Z., & Murphey, T. (2003). Group Dynamics in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (Eds.). (2009). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self. Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto: Multilingual Matters.

Griffiths, G., & Keohane, K. (2000). Personalizing language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mercer, S. (2011). Towards an Understanding of Language Learner Self-Concept. Springer.

Murray, G., Gao, X. (A.) & Lamb, T. (Eds.). (2011). Identity, Motivation and Autonomy in Language Learning. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Nunan, D. (2004). Task-Based Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press.


Identity management strategies employed by LGBQ learners of Japanese as a second language

Ashley Moore (Osaka Institute of Technology, Japan)

A small but growing body of research is beginning to examine the ways in which sexual identities interact with the process of second language learning. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer [LGBQ] students are often silenced by heteronormative educational practices that are often in conflict with their self-concepts and this can have a detrimental effect on learners’ motivation and even lead to withdrawal from language programs (Moore, 2016). If we are to challenge heteronormativity in our classrooms, it is essential that we understand more about the criteria that LGBQ students use to assess how comfortable they feel within language classrooms and how they manage their sexual identities. This paper will share the findings of a new study examining the experiences of a diverse set of LGBQ learners of Japanese as a Second Language within the language classroom. Using a constructivist grounded theory methodology, the study uses rich qualitative interview data to theorize their experiences. The findings move away from the simplistic “in/out” binary of coming out and identify the identity management strategies utilized by the participants across various learning contexts. I will present a taxonomy of sexual identity management strategies used by the participants and show the dimensions along which these strategies are connected and differ. By examining when, where and why different strategies are employed by LGBQ learners, we can reach a better understanding of how to create learning environments and practices that are more psychologically comfortable for such learners. The paper will conclude with concrete advice relevant to all language teachers on how to create more inclusive classrooms.


Moore, A. R. (2016). Inclusion & Exclusion: A case study of an English class for LGBT learners. TESOL Quarterly, 50(1), 86-108.

Identity projection in avatars and motivation

Vera Paiva (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil)

In this paper, I will present the results of an investigation into identity and motivation on the use of Voki avatars by Brazilian undergraduate students of English as an additional language. In online language teaching, digital avatars can be used as a mask to protect identities and function as an alternative to reduce stress in the performance of certain learning tasks. Voki avatars allow students to record their messages and listen to them many times before publishing their final tasks. The hypothesis is that avatars can help students to develop oral skills and that they would probably feel less ashamed in virtual reality than in face to face interaction. The students were asked to create avatars to introduce themselves to their teachers and classmates in a course for the development of English oral skills. They published the links for their avatars in a Moodle platform and the researcher could observe the characteristics of the graphic design, listen to the introduction and take notes. The goals of the study were to verify (1) if the students reproduced their physical features when creating their avatars or if they played with their appearance and projected different identities; (2) if the avatars motivated students to speak; (3) if the avatars decreased inhibition and (4) if students would prefer avatar do video recording or face to face interaction. The methodology included participant classroom observation during the four initial weeks of a 60-hour online course for English oral skills, a forum discussion on the use of Voki for introductions, and interviews.

Intergroup encounters in English language learning: Modelling the impact of national identification

Damian Rivers (Future University Hakodate, Japan)

Given that fundamental concepts such as language can either ”diminish a sense of national identity or reinforce it” (Edensor, 2002: 29), this presentation contends that one of the most influential affective variables impacting upon English language education within the sociocultural context of Japan is attachment to an imagined Japanese nation (singular), or to be more precise, the respective strength of attitudinal attachment students hold toward various dimensions of nation identification. Within current language-learning literature, the direct impact of national identification has been largely overlooked. Neglected is the obvious fact that the evolution of a ”sense of national identification” often begins prior to student encounters with a ”foreign” language and the ”foreign” nationals who speak it. For both the individual and the collective ”a national identity is formed and shaped first of all by domestic influences” (Pyle, 2007: 130) as part of conscious national education policy and planning. Motivated by the current void within mainstream language-learning literature, this presentation shares quantitative data collected from 1123 Japanese university students which sought to answer a single cardinal research question: What impact does the strength of attitudinal attachment students hold toward various dimensions of nation identification (i.e., commitment to national heritage, nationalism, patriotism and internationalism) have upon language-learner motivation within a university context that provides extensive intergroup contact opportunities with a population of non-Japanese ”native speaker” English teachers? A broad analysis and discussion of the results will be offered and participants will be invited to consider the role of national identification in the learning of foreign languages.

“I want them to meet my story”: English, identity and redemptive sequences in student-teachers’ language learning histories

Miriam Tashma Baum (Givat-Washington Academic College of Education, Israel)

SLA research in recent years has largely focused on the multifaceted, situated, and dynamic identity of the language learner. Autobiographical language learning histories (LLHs) do not only reflect the learner’s identity but play a part in its formation, and they are thus a valuable source of information as well as a promising tool with which to increase motivation and promote success. My paper will describe the results of a research project analyzing the LLHs of two EFL student-teachers. A close, process-oriented analysis of their narratives, focusing on both thematic and stylistic aspects, reveals a similar transition from early alienation from English as a school subject, to a current commitment to it. Both paths are ”redemptive” ones, to use McAdams’ term (2006), as for each, the study of English becomes a means towards the advancement of personal and professional well-being and self- fulfillment. This redemptive process is shown to be connected to cognitive and emotional character strengths displayed by the students, who are further empowered by the telling itself. At the same time, each story is unique. The different levels of emotional commitment, the different learning- styles and different outcomes in the two stories are clearly connected to each student’s particular and changing social, familial, cultural, psychological and economic reality. The degree to which each student has benefitted from her learning process is also linked, I argue, to the amount and quality of causal connections (Pals, 2011) – connections that highlight how past events have influenced the changing self – created by the students within their LLHs. The research suggests that encouraging the narration of LLHs in general, and the creation of causal connections within LLHs in particular, may have a positive effect on learners’ self-image and can significantly strengthen intrinsic motivation, thus enhancing the quality of the learning process as a whole.

Insights into the emotional trajectories of language teacher identities

Maria Ruohotie-Lyhty & Josephine Moate (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

In recent years, language learner and teacher identities have become an important field of research in SLA. Identity, which is often understood as a tool through which individuals make sense of themselves and their environment, has been recognized as an important concept in trying to understand language learning and teaching trajectories. Recent research also suggests that development of identity is largely embedded in emotional experiences that form an individual’s relationship with language and teaching. More knowledge is, however, needed to determine the ways in which emotions are present in different moments of the language learning trajectory and how student teachers draw on these experiences in developing their teacher identities. The current study is based on the analysis of 8 student teachers emotional experiences of their language learning career. By detecting the range of emotions in their experiences and the meanings that the student teachers ascribe to these emotions in envisioning their future teaching, we aim to offer insights into the processes of student teachers’ identity development.

A case study of EFL pre-service teachers’ identity construction

Ming-i Lydia Tseng (Fu Jen University, Taiwan)

In EFL contexts, while much research on pre-service teachers is influenced by the reflective inquiry perspective centered on experiential learning (Eyler & Giles, 1999), relatively few attention has been paid to per-service language teacher identity construction in relation to their participation in service learning programs or teaching practicums. Drawing upon Activity Theory (Engeström, 1996, 2001) as a theoretical framework, this study investigated how a group of Taiwanese EFL pre-service teachers (re)constructed their identities as participating in one EFL-teaching-based service learning project with an emphasis on intercultural communication. These Taiwanese pre-service teachers worked with their collaborators, American college students who joined international service learning program, to teach one intensive English course in a local elementary school in Northern Taiwan. Multiple data sources were collected, including the per-service teacher’s teaching journals, interviews, field observations, and records of online and face-to-face discussions. Through data triangulation, the pre-service teacher’s identity was uncovered from two perspectives. Firstly, the pre-service teacher’s identity construction was examined in terms of the cognitive, social, and emotional processes (Yuan & Lee, 2015). Secondly, employing the notion of identity in relation to discourse, practice, and activity systems (Engeström, 1996, 2001; Gee, 2004), this study explored the pre-service teacher’s identity development as being situated within a wider system of social, cultural, and historical relations in which teaching takes place. The findings showed the pre-service teachers constructed their identities as they learnt skills and knowledge cognitively, engaged in various interactions with socio-cultural agents and factors, and dealt with diverse emotions. Also, the pre-service teachers’ identities were found to be discursively constructed. Specifically, by working with their American partners, the pre-service teachers experienced power struggles and negotiated contradictions within and across activity systems, which resulted in consequences on their identities. Based on the findings, relevant implications are provided for pre-service language teacher education.

From learning to become to learning to belong: exploring three EFL teaching assistants’ induction process into the French university culture

Ana Laura Vega Umaña (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, France)

This paper explores the induction process of three EFL teaching assistants into the French university culture and documents how they learned “to become language teachers in [this] particular community of teachers and learners” (Kanno & Stuart 2011). From American or British universities, they acknowledged their limited understanding of the French university culture and felt “left in the dark”, as one of them put it, regarding what was expected of them and what they should expect from colleagues, students, and the administration. Two of the three participants were novice teachers. Recently graduated, they went through a double transition: not only did they have to learn to see themselves as teachers, but they had to do so in an unfamiliar system. In other words, in addition to learning to become language teachers, they had to learn to belong as members of the institution. This implied understanding the functioning of the university, its norms, its values, its expectations of teachers, as well as the students’ learning culture and their views on learning English. How did they make sense of the differences between their educational background(s) and beliefs and the habits and expectations of the new institutional culture they were now part of ? Through a series of classroom observations, semi-guided interviews and self-confrontation interviews, spanning a period of ten months, the evolution of their perceptions of the French university culture and their self-perceptions as foreign (language) teachers within this culture was examined.


Beauchamp & Thomas (2009). Understanding teacher identity: an overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175-189.

Cicurel (2011). Les interactions dans l’enseignement des langues. Agir professoral et pratiques de classe. Paris, Didier.

Kanno & Stuart (2011). The development of L2 teacher identity : Longitudinal case studies. Modern Language Journal, 95, 236-252.

De-jure and de-facto identity formulation in Iranian EFL context: An emic perspective

Farhad Mazlum Zavaregh (Maragheh University, Iran), Mohammad Reza Safi (Payame Noor University, Iran) & Mahdi Dasta (Shahid Beheshti University, Iran)

English language education (ELE) in Iran has gone through interesting ups and downs. Drawing upon Anderson’s ”imagined community” (1991), Wenger’s ”situated learning” (1998) and Markus and Nurius’s ”possible selves” (1986), this paper aims at providing an emic perspective of ELE and identity in post-revolutionary Iran. More specifically, it aims at examining how Iranian educational planners ’do the imaging’ for EFL leaners through offering identity options in recently-developed macro-level national documents and why. Additionally, it is intended to provide evidence on how Iranian EFL (English as a foreign language) learners translate such policy-level identity-imagining. Data come from Iran’s major macro-level educational documents (i.e. Iran’s Comprehensive Roadmap of Science, Philosophy of Education in Islamic Republic of Iran, National Document of Education, National Curriculum, and ELE documents of the Ministry of Education). Document analysis suggest that for educational policymakers, ELE needs to be strategically engineered and managed to not only diffuse its potential threats to EFL learners’ Iranian-Islamic identity but also help with reinforcing Iranian-Islamic nationalism through deconstructing English. Since ELE is inherently associated with ’Western hegemony’, ’cultural invasion’, and ’linguistic imperialism’, English learners’ permeable identities need to be protected against the threats in ’soft war’ and of ’cultural NATO’. Micro-level data, however, indicate that such social nation-state identity imagining is interpreted and propagated at an individual level differently. In other words, encouraged by globalization and the dynamism following it, EFL learners opt for alternative selves and hybrid identities in which identities sit together for ’functional purposes’ and ’cultural exchanges’.