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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
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/ Ying Zhang
  • Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies at, University of Massachusetts, 170 E Hadley Rd., Unit 23, Amherst, MA, US
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Published Online: 2018-09-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0013

Abstract

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

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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.

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