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The identity construction experiences of teachers of English to young learners in mainland China

Project Scheme:
General Research Fund
Project Year:
2018/2019
Project Leader:
Dr TRENT, John Gilbert
(Department of English Language Education)
The identity construction experiences of teachers of English to young learners in mainland China

A particular contribution of this project is to examine the experiences and perceptions of teachers of English to young learners using the theoretical lens of teacher identity, which in the past decade has emerged as a powerful analytic framework for understanding teachers and teaching.

This project responds to the need for research into the teaching of English to young learners (TEYL), defined as children between the ages of 5-12. Despite the significant increase in popularity of TEYL globally, including mainland China, our knowledge of how TEYL is implemented, the attitudes of teachers, and the challenges they face is scant. This project, therefore, addresses this gap in our understanding of English language teaching and learning by exploring the experiences of one group of primary school English teachers in mainland China. A particular contribution of this project is to examine the experiences and perceptions of teachers of English to young learners using the theoretical lens of teacher identity, which in the past decade has emerged as a powerful analytic framework for understanding teachers and teaching. The results of this project will be of interest to policy makers, teacher educators, school authorities, researchers, and teachers of young learners themselves, both in mainland China and analogous educational settings worldwide. For policy makers, the findings generated by this study will offer insights into how future policies and programs can be tailored to best meet the needs of young English language learners and their teachers in mainland China and beyond. For teacher educators, the results of this study will provide insights into how they can best support the professional identity construction of preservice and inservice teachers. School authorities will benefit from this project as recommendations will be made for school-based professional development programs that support the ongoing identity construction goals of inservice teachers of English to young learners. This project, by documenting the experiences of teachers in mainland China, will also offer new opportunities for researchers as it will represent one of the first steps in establishing a database for comparative research as future studies continue to explore the identity construction experiences of English language teachers of young learners within different educational contexts. Finally, school-based teachers will benefit from this project as the results will contribute to the international sharing of ideas and experiences, which has been identified as crucial in supporting frontline educators responsible for implementing English language programs for young learners around the globe.