Teachers’ Professional Identity: Contributions of a Critical EFL Teacher Education Course in Iran

Jul. 01, 2012

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 28, Issue 5, (July, 2012), p. 706-717.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article is a report on contributions of a critical EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher education course to teachers’ professional identity reconstruction.

The participants were seven Iranian student teachers, who studied critical EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher education course.
Data were collected through pre-course and post-course interviews with participants, their reflective journals, class discussions, and the teacher educator’s reflective journals.


Three major shifts were observed in the participants' professional identities:

1. From conformity to and romanticization of dominant ideologies to critical autonomy
The findings reveal that the participants seemed to have entered the course with a romanticized view of ideologies promoted by authorities including language schools managers, theoreticians, and authors of English instruction textbooks.

In the early sessions and toward the middle of the course, the student teachers seemed to have a similarly conformist and uncritical approach to some teaching methodology course materials.
They didn’t seem to have a critical view of imported ideologies and didn’t think of their own ideas to be worthy of much credit.
During the course, however, the student teachers seemed to have started to redefine their teacher self and reconsider and reprioritize their professional responsibilities.
The participants had become more aware of their old uncritical habits and attitudes and had started to reconsider them.
They had also become more conscious of limitations imposed on them by authorities and institutions.
As a result, they had started to redefine their own positions, rights, and roles.

2. From an instrumentalist orientation to a critical/transformative orientation of teaching
Early on in the course, it was found that thoughts and attitudes of most of the participants were, to a great extent, in line with the market demands, and the rest of the teachers appeared to lack attitude altogether.
On the whole, the teachers had started teaching for either no particular reason or gaining experience, making money, etc.
Toward the end of the course, however, some changes in the teachers’ attitudes and reasons for teaching seemed to be taking place.
They had started to reorder their professional priorities and tend to talk more about awareness raising and transforming the status quo than about making money and gaining experience.

3. From a linguistic and technical view to an educational view of English Language Teaching
The findings indicate that the participants seemed to have entered the course talking about language proficiency and technical expertise as the major factors involved in good teaching.
During the course, however, they started to reconsider their former perceptions of effective and appropriate ELT materials and adopt a social and educational approach to ELT (English Language Teaching) which prioritizes such objectives as awareness raising and social change.

Updated: Mar. 09, 2015