Language, tension and agency: Teacher identity formation in Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) education for ethnic minority kindergarteners

Submitted by: Elizabeth Ka Yee Loh
Abstract: This research investigates the trajectory of identity transformation of a female Pakistani teacher from a CSL learner to a CSL teacher for Non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) kindergarten children of ethnic minority backgrounds (Tse & Loh, 2014). Drawing on sociocultural theories of Learning and poststructuralist theories of language, the notion of discourse (Norton, 2009) is applied to conceptualize the power relationships and tensions between NCS children, parents, teachers and administrators within the activity systems (Engestrom, 1987) of both the kindergarten and university-based project team communities. The study focuses on the discursive construction and negotiation of the Pakistani teacher’s identities (Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2003), development of teacher knowledge as well as her empowerment of the ethnic minority kindergarteners through improving their proficiency of Chinese as one of the mainstream languages under the socio-political systems and language education policies in the Hong Kong multicultural and multilingual society. Following an ethnographic qualitative case study design, the one-year longitudinal research collected various texts including semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, lesson observation videos as well as documents of teacher lesson plans and student works. Both discourse analysis and narrative analysis were adopted to interpret the data addressing research questions focusing on how different sociocultural and institutional discourses shaped and were shaped by the identity transformation of the teacher and how she exercised her creative agencies in motivating the NCS children and enhancing their Chinese language proficiency meanwhile developed her teacher professional knowledge.

Engestrom, Y. (1987). Learning by Expanding: An Activity Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki Orienta-Konsultit Oy.

Norton, B. (2010). Language and Identity. In N. Hornberger and S. McKay (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language Education. pp.349-369. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Pavlenko, A. & Blackledge, A. (Eds.). (2003). Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Tse, S. K. & Loh, E. K. Y. (2014). Zen Yang Jiao Fei Hua Yu You Er You Xiao Xue Xi Zhong Wen (How to teach Non-Chinese-Speaking kindergarten children to learn Chinese effectively?). Beijing: Beijing Normal University Publishing Group.