This study aims to unravel challenges experienced by two novice English teachers in a Korean independent school, the steadily growing education sector worldwide. The author spent 13 months in the participants’ natural environment, observing and collecting data through observation field notes, interviews, questionnaires, and cultural probes. A grounded theory approach was adopted to guide the recursive data analysis and identify the themed findings – personal factors (e.g., unrealistic expectations) and sociocultural factors (e.g., school policy and structure). These findings suggest that novice English teachers should obtain accurate information about their new school and actively seek formal and informal support from multiple sources. It offers several practical suggestions for novice teachers and school administrators that would help beginning teachers sustain and succeed in the new teaching environment. More research grounded in this ethnographic approach should be done to address this critical issue in an in-depth, contextualized, and sociocultural manner.


Novice English Teachers, Ethnographic Research, Independent School

Author Bio(s)

Ju Seong (John) Lee is a PhD Candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interest includes Ethnography (Qualitative) Research, Teacher Preparation/Development, Computer-Assisted Language Learning (particularly Videoconferencing and Informal Digital Learning of English), and English as an International Language (EIL). Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: jlee682@illinois.edu.


I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Mark Dressman at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his warm support and guidance, anonymous reviewers, and the editors for their comments and support.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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