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CLER Conversation - Understanding tertiary EFL teacher learning & identity development: A cultural-historical activity theory perspective


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Although current scholarship has conducted much research on teacher learning and teacher identity respectively, there are limited empirical studies examining the combination of these two constructs. This study, drawing upon cultural-historical activity theory, aims at exploring two tertiary EFL teachers’ specific learning processes and how they develop their identities through learning. Data sources include observations, interviews, informal communications, and artifacts concerning the two participants’ learning and identity constructions.

The findings reveal that teacher learning is an expansive learning process that starts with triggering events, and reflection permeates all phases of the teachers’ expansive learning. Besides, teacher learning is driven by multiple contradictions. Facing these contradictions, teachers exert their agency, negotiate with significant others, and cross various boundaries in their learning activities, which eventually promotes their identity development. The findings provide implications for further explorations of teacher learning and teacher identity.

Xia Li is an associate professor of applied linguistics at the School of Foreign Languages, Jiangsu University, China. She received her PhD from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. Now, she is a visiting scholar at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include teacher education, foreign language teaching, and second language acquisition. Her publications have appeared in various journals, including the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, RELC Journal, the Journal of Education for Teaching, and the Asia Pacific Journal of Education.