EFL Teachers’ Cultural Identity Development through Participating in Cultural Negotiation: Probing EFL Students’ Perspectives

June 1, 2019

Source: Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, vol. 21, no. 1, 115–127

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In the current study, the researcher investigated English as a foreign language (EFL) students’ perceptions on the cultural identity development of EFL teachers who participated in the cultural negotiation programs.
The aim of this study was to track down the perceptions of EFL students about cultural identity development of EFL teachers to examine the cultural identity development of the EFL teachers through the lens of the EFL teachers.

The authors state that this study aimed to investigate the EFL students’ perceptions about the cultural identity development of EFL teachers participating in cultural negotiation programs.
To that end, the narratives authored by the EFL students whose teachers were in cultural negotiation programs during the conduct of this research were collected.
These EFL teachers were participating in a cultural negotiation program aimed to develop their cultural literacy about cultural variations and how to deal with cultural variations in their classrooms.
The setting of this study was an Iranian EFL context in which the EFL students were learning English as a foreign language.
Participants - Four EFL students participated in the current study to help the researchers address the cultural identity development of the EFL teachers in the classrooms.
These students were the English students of the EFL teachers who were participating in the cultural negotiation program.
Three of these students were male and one was female.
Their proficiency level, as stated by their institute officials, was upper-intermediate.
The students were selected based on convenience and their interest to participate in the study.
The interactions with all of the students were not face-to-face, but through different social media.
The students were asked to write down their interactional narratives during three time intervals, at the start of EFL teachers cultural negotiation program, at the middle of it, and at the end of it.
During these three time intervals, the EFL students had different classroom interactions which led them to write their narratives interactively.
Moreover, by going through the narratives written during these intervals, the researchers could draw the students’ perspectives about EFL teachers’ cultural identity development.

Findings and Discussion
The EFL students’ narratives were analyzed to see what their perspectives were about the cultural identity development of their teachers.
Their narratives showed several main themes which are discussed in the following section.

Cultural Engagement
The authors state that the analysis of the students’ narratives indicated that they believed in the development of EFL teachers’ cultural engagement in the classrooms while these teachers participated in cultural negotiation programs.
Some EFL student narratives indicated that these teachers tried to start addressing cultural issues from the first sessions, but they were not that successful since their students did not readily participate in discussions.
However, based on the analysis of the narratives of the EFL students, the teachers were able to address cultural issues sooner than the middle of the semester.
The narratives show that the EFL teachers tried to use cultural issues to continue the process of English language teaching.
Although they were rigid in their ideas at the start of the semester, at the end and when they participated in negotiation sessions, they were less rigid.
This means that these teachers did not position themselves as rejecters of others cultural ideas but tolerated their students’ ideas and discussed them.
The development in cultural engagement of the EFL teachers in their classrooms with their EFL learners show the development of their cultural identity (Rashidi & Meihami, 2017).
The authors note that the EFL teachers' cultural engagement in their classes developed; leading them to become aware about cultural variations in the classes and to engage in cultural discussions with more openness. Consequently, it can be stated that through participating in the cultural identity negotiation programs, the EFL teachers will be aware of the cultural variations and how to deal with them; and in their classes, they will engage in cultural discussions, learning to become teachers who are prudent about their learners’ cultural affairs.

Interaction Types
The authors found that the EFL students’ narrative analysis showed that they believed that the EFL teachers who participated in the cultural negotiation programs used different types of interactions to address the cultural discussions in their classrooms.
The results of narrative analysis indicated that EFL teachers used a teacher-student interaction type in the first sessions, then, they modified it to student-student interaction, and, finally, to teacher-student-student interactions.
None of the students mentioned in their narratives that the EFL teachers used Persian for discussing the issues; showing that the EFL teachers were competent in addressing cultural issues through English language.
The teachers used the context of their classrooms as a discourse arena to practice cultural negotiation.
Identity-in-discourse (Kanno & Stuart, 2011) which is the construction of identity discursively were found by the authors in the narratives authored by EFL students.
Consequently, through establishing different discourses, the teachers intended to discuss different cultural concepts.
The EFL students’ narratives showed that from the early stages to the ending of the program, the EFL teachers’ use of identity-in-discourse developed; meaning that the cultural negotiation programs which the EFL teachers have already participated had positive effects on their cultural identity development.

Teacher Motivation
The analysis of EFL students’ narratives by the authors indicated that the motivation of EFL teachers who participated in the cultural negotiation programs increased in regard to the cultural performances and discussions in the classrooms.
The EFL students believed that the motivation of their EFL teachers flourished to consider cultural discussions in the classrooms.
The authors note that It can be argued that the motivation of the EFL teachers who participated in the cultural negotiation programs changed; leading to their cultural identity development and change in their cultural performances.
Attending the program in which negotiation about various cultural concepts happened led the EFL teachers to be motivated to achieve their teaching goals.
Hence, the development in the motivation of these teachers led them to practice addressing cultural issues in their classes more.

Teacher Emotion
Finally, the EFL students mentioned development in their teacher emotion in their narratives.
The authors state that there is a direct relationship between teacher emotion and teacher identity since by understanding the emotional messages of the class, the teachers make decision how to arrange their teaching (Day, 2018).
The authors state that through participating in cultural negotiation programs, the EFL teachers’ cultural-professional identity developed.
This is so because by using the notions they learnt in the negotiation programs, and by perceiving the cultural status of their classes, they tried to address cultural issues in their classes.
In so doing, they tried to consider the emotions of their students and select their teaching methodology by accordingly.
Owing to this, the classes were transformed to learning-friendly ones in which cultural issues could be discussed and debated.
Moreover, by understanding the emotional messages of the classroom, the EFL teachers conducted “deep acting” (Grandey & Gabriel, 2015) in which they did their best to consider the emotions of their students in their teaching methods.

Day, C. (2018). Professional identity matters: Agency, emotions, and resilience. In P. A. Schutz, J. Hong, & D. C. Francis (Eds.), Research on teacher identity (pp. 61- 70). Cham: Springer.
Grandey, A. A., & Gabriel, A. S. (2015). Emotional labor at a crossroads: Where do we go from here? Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2(1), 323-349
Kanno, Y., & Stuart, C. (2011). Learning to become a second language teacher: Identities in practice. The Modern Language Journal, 95(2), 236ñ252.
Rashidi, N., & Meihami, H. (2017). Addressing cultural identity through negotiation: Analysis of student-teacher-authored narratives. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, 19(2), 21-35

Updated: Feb. 09, 2020