Neither Fish nor Fowl: the Contested Identity of Teachers of English in an EFL Context

Malba Barahona, Ximena Ibaceta-Quijanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The literature on language teacher identity describes teacher identity as dynamic, shaped through professional and personal experiences and mediated by peer interaction, the effects of pedagogical strategies and professional discourses (Barkhuizen, 2017). This article reports on key findings from a study that investigated the perceptions of Chilean teachers of English about their work and their identity as language teachers. Data were collected through an online questionnaire with 716 respondents from teachers of English across Chile. The questionnaire included specific questions on teachers’ motivation, the nature of effective teaching practices, types of professional development and factors that contribute to their professional learning. The analysis of two critical open-ended questions related to levels of teacher satisfaction and valorization revealed that although teachers feel generally satisfied with their jobs, at the same time they feel essentially undervalued and somewhat illegitimate. Factors such as standards frameworks which compel teachers to validate their knowledge of the language, constraints in relation to working conditions and modest salary levels directly contributed to the perceptions of satisfaction and valorization. A significant implication of this study is the need for a more complex understanding of the motivations that drive the development of English language teacher identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-363
Number of pages17
JournalRELC Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Chile
  • EFL
  • English for teaching
  • Latin America
  • Teacher identity
  • identity
  • standards
  • teacher training


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