Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Global Chinese

Ed. by Wei, Li / Yanbin, Diao

2 Issues per year

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Language teacher identity construction: Insights from non-native Chinese-speaking teachers in a Danish higher educational context

Chun Zhang
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Culture & Society, Aarhus University, Nobelparken, Bldg. 1465/326, Jens Christian Skous Vej 7, 8000, Aarhus C, Denmark
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ying Zhang
  • Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies at, University of Massachusetts, 170 E Hadley Rd., Unit 23, Amherst, MA, US
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-09-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0013


This qualitative study concerns foreign language teacher identity construction, where the focal participants are four non-native Chinese-speaking teachers (NNCSTs) working in a higher educational context in Denmark. The study aims to go beyond the current prevailing research on native speaking (NS) teachers by making NNCSTs’ challenges and contributions visible and meaningful. It attempts to raise awareness of NNCSTs’ voices and seek better understanding of their identities as foreign language teachers. Data are gathered from in-depth questionnaires, audio-recorded interviews, classroom observations and field notes over a period of four years. Participants’ perceptions of native Chinese-speaking teachers’ (NCSTs) pedagogical practices and their critical reflections on personal and professional traits as effective language teachers are examined. The roles of non-nativeness in a non-Chinese working environment are also explored. The study concludes that being a NNCST does not create barriers in a local Danish context. Rather, non-native speaker status has positive advantages over teacher-student relationships and interactions. NNSCTs’ beneficial personality traits, comparatively high sensitivity to linguistic and cultural differences, empathetic understanding of students’ learning trajectory, along with their constant and conscious development of locally appropriate practices, altogether enhance the process of professional identity construction.

Keywords: language teacher identity; non-native Chinese-speaking teachers (NCSTs); Chinese as a foreign language (CFL); Danish higher education


  • Baynham, Mike. 2015. Identity: Brought about or brought along? narrative as a privileged site for researching intercultural identities. In Fred Dervin & Karen Risager (eds.), Researching identity and interculturality, 67–85. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Borg, Simon. 2006. Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum.Google Scholar

  • Braine, George. 1999. Non-native educators in English language teaching. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar

  • Bridges, David & Richard Smith. 2007. Philosophy, methodology and educational research. http://philpapers.org/rec/BRIPMA-2 (accessed 10 May 2017).

  • Cortazzi, Martin & Lixian Jin. 1996. Cultures of learning: Language classrooms in China. In Hywel Coleman (ed.), Society and the language classroom, 169–206. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Creswell, W John & Cheryl N Poth. 2007. Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. London: Sage.Google Scholar

  • Danielewicz, Jane. 2001. Teaching selves, identity, pedagogy and teacher education. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar

  • Dervin, Fred. 2015. Introduction. In Fred Dervin (ed.), Chinese educational migration and teacher mobility, 1–8. London: Palgrave MacMilliam.Google Scholar

  • Flick, Uwe. 2009. An introduction to qualitative research. 4th edn. London: Sage.Google Scholar

  • Gao, Fang. 2012. Teacher identity, teaching vision and Chinese language education for South Asian students in Hong Kong. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 18(1). 89–99.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gee, James Paul. 2000. Identity as an analytic lens for research in education. Review of Research in Education 25. 99–125.Google Scholar

  • Ho, Pingti. 1959. Aspects of social mobility in China. Comparative Studies in Society and History 1(4). 330–359.Google Scholar

  • Hofstede, Geert. 1986. Cultural differences in teaching and learning. International Journal of Intercultural Educational Research 29. 301–320.Google Scholar

  • Johnson, Karen E. 2006. The sociocultural turn and its challenges for second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly 40(1). 235–257.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kramsch, Claire. 1998. Language and culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Kumaravadivelu, B. 2012. Language teacher education for a global society: A modular model for knowing, analyzing, recognizing, doing and seeing. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Lee, Thomas H.C. 2000. Education in traditional China: A history. Leiden Boston & Koln: Brill.Google Scholar

  • Li, Huichun & Xiangyun Du. 2013. Confronting cultural challenges when reconstructing the teacher-student relationship in a Chinese context. In Mads Kirkebæk, Xiangyun Du & Annie A Jensen (eds.), Teaching and learning culture, 79–94. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar

  • Orton, Jane. 2011. Educating Chinese language teachers: Some fundamentals. In Linda Tsung & Ken Cruickshank (eds.), Teaching and learning Chinese in global contexts: CFL worldwide, 151–165. London: Continuum international publishing group.Google Scholar

  • Phillipson, Robert. 1992. Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Starr, Don. 2012. China and the confucian education model. http://universitas21.com/RelatedFile/Downlad/300 (assessed 1 May 2017).Google Scholar

  • Varghese, Manka, Brian Morgan, Bill Johnston & Kimberly A Johnson. 2005. Theorizing language teacher identity: Three perspectives and beyond. Journal of Language, Identity and Education 4(1). 21–44.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Walkinshaw, Ian & Oanh Thi Hoang Duong. 2012. Native and non-native speaking English teachers in Vietnam: Weighing the benefits. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language 16(3). 1–17.Google Scholar

  • Wang, Danping & Bob Adamson. 2014. War and peace: Perceptions of confucius Institutes in China and USA. The Asian-Pacific Education Researcher. Springer Open Journal. DOI: . (accessed 9 May 2017).CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wang, Danping & Andy Kirkpatrick. 2012, Code choice in the Chinese as a foreign language classroom. Springer Open Journal. http://www.multilingual-education.com/content/2/1/3 (accessed 12 December 2016).

  • Wang, Li & Annie A Jensen. 2013. Cultural influences on Chinese language teachers’ perceptions and beliefs in a danish context. In Mads Kirkebæk, Xingyun Du & Annie A Jensen (eds.), Teaching and learning culture, 95–112. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar

  • Wang, Yu. 2012. 国际汉语合作项目现状分析 [Analysis of current international Chinese-language collaboration projects], 世界教育信息 [World Education Information 5]. 62–66.Google Scholar

  • Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Wu, Hsu-pai, Deborah K. Palmer & Sherry Field. 2011. Understanding teachers’ professional identity and beliefs in the Chinese heritage language school in the USA. Language, Culture and Curriculum 24(1). 47–60.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Zhang, Chun. 2015a. Discursive construction of Chinese language teacher identity. In Fred Dervin (ed.), Chinese educational migration and teacher mobility, 129–143. London: Palgrave MacMilliam.Google Scholar

  • Zhang, Chun. 2015b. ‘We are servants’: identity construction of new native CFL teachers. 复旦汉学论丛 [Fudan Chinese Forum], vol. 9, 18–34. Shanghai, China: Fudan University Press.Google Scholar

  • Zhang, Chun & Annie A Jensen. 2013. Professional identity construction of non-native Chinese language teachers. In Mads Kirkebæk, Xiangyun Du & Annie A Jensen (eds.), Teaching and learning culture, 113–127. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar

  • Zhang, Chun & Danping Wang. 2017. Becoming professional: Exploring identity construction of non-native cfl teachers. In Jin Tinghe & Fred Dervin (eds.), Interculturality in Chinese language education, 89–106. London: Palgrave MacMilliam.Google Scholar

  • Zhang, Ying. 2016. Beyond error treatment: Complicating interactions with L2 Chinese writers’ texts for social meaning. Paper presented at the 4th International Symposium on Chinese Language and Discourse, Bryant University, USA. 10–12 June.Google Scholar

  • Zhou, Minglang. 2011. Globalization and language order: Teaching Chinese as a foreign language in the United States. In Linda Tsung & Ken Cruickshank (eds.), Teaching and learning Chinese in a global contexts: CFL worldwide, 131–149. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-27

Published in Print: 2018-09-25

Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 271–291, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0013.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in