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Mateus Yumarnamto
SLED-April 18, 2014
Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
School of Education
Research Question
In the backdrop of Johnston’s (1997) echoing question “Do
EFL Teachers Have Careers?” this current study is
intended to explore a life history of an Indonesian EFL
teacher. Indonesia is a developing country where English is
becoming more important as the country strives to position
itself economically and politically in Asia and in the world.
The main question of this study is:
• How were professional identities of an Indonesian
EFL teacher shaped and reshaped in her life story?
ELT in Indonesia
• English is taught since 4th Grade of elementary school
• The curriculum is based on the national standards—
competency-based curriculum
• English teacher should have formal education track to
become a teacher: college degree in Education—Master
Degree in Education.
• Four Years Language Teacher Education.
• Although not explicitly required, to become a tenure
professor at a school of education, a candidate should
have a college degree in education and advanced degree
in the aligned field.
Framework 1:
Critical Event in narratives
• Webster and Mertova (2007) suggest that "a critical event
as told in a story reveals a change of understanding or
worldview by the storyteller" (p. 73). Further, they outline
the characteristics of a critical event as having the ability
to impact story teller’s performance, having a traumatic
component, attracting public interest, and bringing about a
• For students, critical events can promote their learnings
and for teachers, critical events can bring about teacher
change and they can also “maintain a particular definition
of reality and identity” (p. 358). In this positive end, Woods
(1993) sees opportunities for teachers to bring about
change and growth in the profession.
Framework 2:
Identity in discourse
• Current research on identity has informed us that
identity is dynamic, changes through time, and it is
maintained and shaped in discourses (Duff & Uchida,
1997; Franzak, 2002; Johnson 2003; Tsui, 2007;
Soreide, 2006, 2007; Atay and Ece 2009; McAdams
2011; Barkhuizen 2011).
• In discourses, identity can be seen from the subject
position; “different subject positions give access to,
for example, images, expectations, practices,
opinions and values, and are therefore central in the
construction of different understandings of the world
and our place in it.” (Soreide 2006, p. 529).
The Story Teller
• Ratna, an English teacher with a bachelor degree in
agriculture and a master degree in English education.
She studied three years in a U.S. elementary school; her
English was excellent.
She worked as a consultant and translator in a Dutch
agency; she worked in a bank as a credit analyst for 11
years prior to her marriage.
Turning to a different profession is a big problem because
she did not have a formal background in education—so
she took a master degree in TESOL.
Her undergraduate degree in agriculture—was always
questioned when she entered education profession
although she already had a master degree in TESOL.
Language Teacher/Educator Identity
• Canagarajah (2012): In his autoethnography, he
described his professional identity formation as marked by
his struggle to be accepted as a member of professional
community in TESOL in the US.
• Tsui (2007) described the complexity of identity formation
of her subject (Minfang) in which his identity formation is
marked by his struggle to adopt CLT.
• Alsup (2006): teacher professional identity is marked by
clash and integration between the personal and the
The Narrative Data
• Interview
• Field notes
• Email Correspondence
• Notes on personal conversations
• Group Discussion
• Identity Claims: analyzed by identifying the subject
positions (Soreide 2006)
• Critical Event Analysis ( Webster and Mertova 2007)
Getting Married
Failing to secure a
teaching position
Professional Identity Formation
around two Critical Events
(1) Getting Married (Identity claims: I am good at English, I
am intelligent, I am a good teacher, I know my students; I
am caring; I am diligent)—as opposed to professional
identity maintained in the society: English teacher needs
formal tracks of education)
(2) Failure in securing a teaching position (Identity in
contestation: I am good—but in doubt because of the
agriculture degree; colleagues did not see me as a full
teacher; the needs to prove herself as a competent English
Conclusion and Significance
• EFL teacher identity formation: always in relation to the
outside authority—it needs to claimed and reclaimed. In
the case of Ratna, her professional identity formation was
marked by her struggle to claim her teaching authority as
it was always in clash with the society standards that
require formal education to get the professional
• Formal teacher education in Indonesia is important—it is
the gate keeper of getting into the profession.
• Awareness: Struggle and tensions characterized a
moving force for identity formation and professional

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