Unravelling professional identity: a narrative exploration of early-career English Second Language teachers in a rural setting
AbstractThis article delves into the intricate process of how early career English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers construct their professional identities (PI). By qualitatively examining the role of teaching experiences within the ESL classroom, we seek to understand how these educators shape their professional selves. Our study involves four ESL teachers, each with a maximum of three years of teaching experience, all of whom received their education from South African universities. Employing a narrative research design, we provided these teachers with a platform to share their individual stories and experiences during interview-based data collection. The study's findings reveal a noteworthy development in the way these teachers perceive and shape their PI. Through meaningful reflection, the participants began to see themselves primarily as professionals in the field of ESL education. This reflection led us to draw three key conclusions regarding the PI of early career ESL teachers. First, the personal and professional experiences of these educators play a pivotal role in shaping their understanding of professional identity. Second, this conceptualisation holds significant potential to influence their classroom effectiveness and teaching abilities. Lastly, the utilisation of a storytelling approach in our research has proven to be a valuable method for comprehending the PI of early career ESL teachers.
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