Responding to globalisation, a ubiquitous obsession with English has pervaded South Korea and led to the employment of tens of thousands of expatriate English teachers. However, native-speaking English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers may be subject to marginalisation and acculturation difficulties as they navigate overseas employment contexts. Moreover, scholars question the legitimacy of their careers and challenge the bias for their native-speaker expertise. Against this contentious backdrop, this study explores how the experiences and beliefs of native-speaking EFL teachers both promote and hinder their professional identity constructions. Adopting a qualitative, interpretivist approach, interviews are mobilised to document the participants’ lived realities. Resultant to a thematic analysis, an original typology of five conceptualisations of professional identity is presented, contributing to contemporary identity discourse by revealing that expatriate teachers find their sojourns characterised by much ambivalence, and whilst limited positive professional identity is attainable, there are salient barriers to its development.


Professional Identity, Korea, EFL, Native-Speaker, English Teacher, Thematic Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Natalie-Jane Howard is a lecturer in the General Academic Requirements Division of the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates. She has 15 years’ experience in English language teaching, materials development and teacher training in several countries, including South Korea. Her research interests include language teacher identity and the native-speaker ideology in ELT. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: nhoward@hct.ac.ae.

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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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