In Iran’s higher education English language teaching (ELT) context, we explored the moral nuances embedded in two conversation courses offered to undergraduate students majoring in English Literature at one of the branches of the Islamic Azad University (IAU) in Tehran. We collected data through classroom observations, field notes, and semi-structured individual and focus group interviews. Our content analysis revealed a range of moral values embedded in significant incidents, which we categorized into five themes: (a) relations, (b) rules and regulations, (c) assessment, (d) curricular substructure, and (I) culture. These themes were further subcategorized into more specific concepts that emerged from our data. We selectively focused on two subthemes, Class Initiation and Turn Taking, as well as the main theme of Assessment, as these were the most morally loaded, with a higher frequency of moral values extracted from related class episodes compared to other categories. This selection allowed for a deeper exploration of the complexities and nuances within these themes, providing further support on the role of ELT teachers as moral exemplars for their students.


morality, English language teaching, language teacher, higher education, content analysis

Author Bio(s)

Leila Tajik is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Literature, Alzahra University, Vanak Street, Tehran, Iran. Please direct correspondence to tajik_l@alzahra.ac.ir

Seyyed-Abdolhamid Mirhosseini is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong. Please direct correspondence to mirhosseini@hku.hk

Mahsa Kashkooli is pursing the Master’s in English Language Teaching in the Department of English, Faculty of Literature, Alzahra University, Vanak Street, Tehran, Iran. Please direct correspondence to mahsa.kashooli@gmail.com


We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, which greatly enriched our understanding and prompted valuable reflections on our work.

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