The negotiation of Thai EFL teachers' indentities and their classroom practices : a case study of a Thai public university

  • Juthamas Thongsongsee

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This research aimed to investigate the complex interrelationship between Thai EFL teachers' identities and their pedagogical practices. Drawing on Wenger's (f998) theory of learning as a dual process of identity formation and negotiation of meanings, this study examines the lived experiences of Thai EFL teachers and explores the way in which these teachers' identities shape, and are shaped by their classroom practices. This study was conducted at an elite university in Thailand, and six Thai EFL teachers with different educational backgrounds and teaching experiences participated in the study. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, stimulated recall, teachers' reflection notes/talks, field notes, research diaries and document review. Using a combination of Wenger's (1998) concept of communities of practice and Tajfel's (1981) notion of social identity, the data analysis uncovers several key factors affecting the Thai EFL teachers' identity formation. The findings firstly suggest that the participants' language learning trajectories and their English proficiency contribute significantly to their personal identity formation within the TESOL profession. Secondly, the reputation of the language institute, the status of university lecturers, and the fact that teachers are highly respected in Thai society play a pivotal role in the way in which these teachers construct their social identity. Finally, their qualifications, ELT knowledge and expertise, research experience, definition of teaching success, professional recognition, and involvement in the ELT professional organisations greatly influence their professional identity formation. These key findings are interrelated and context-specific, and reflect a complex nature of identity formation. It was also found that the Thai EFL teachers' beliefs and decision-making, their roles and positioning, their ELT knowledge and expertise, and their instructional strategies play a key part in informing their pedagogical practices. It became evident that the participants in this study enacted their identities as they engaged in practice. Since teaching is not an isolated activity, and practice does not exist in vacuum, there are many other factors influencing the participants' identities formation and their classroom practices. These include the Thai National Higher Education policies, KCLI curriculum and course syllabus, the assessment practice, students' English proficiency and their learning styles, and the changing nature of the ELT field. The insights gained from this study pose implications for professional development for in-service teachers and provide recommendations for SL TE for pre-service teachers.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRichard Kiely (Supervisor)

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