Contributions of Kumaravadivelu’s Language Teacher Education Modular Model (KARDS) to Iranian EFL Language Institute Teachers’ Professional Identity

Authors

1 , Department of English, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Garmsar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Garmsar, Iran

Abstract

This research aims to investigate the contributions of KARDS (knowing, analyzing, recognizing, doing, and seeing) to Iranian English as a foreign language (EFL) institute teachers’ professional identity reconstruction. The researchers employed purposive sampling to choose twenty teachers. A KARDS questionnaire (Hassani, Khatib, & Yazdani Moghaddam, 2019a, 2019b) was used to classify the teachers into a more KARDS-oriented group (n=10) and a less-KARDS oriented group (N=10) on the basis of their scores on the questionnaire through quartile-based visual binning technique. Pre-course interview, post-course interview, teacher educator and teachers’ reflective journals, and class discussions were employed to gather data. After the pre-course interview, there was an implementation phase during which all twenty teachers became familiar with KARDS. Then, Grounded Theory was applied to analyze the data. Findings showed that there were four big shifts from “uncertainty of practice to certainty of practice”, “the use of fewer macro-strategies to the use of more macro-strategies”, “linguistic and technical view of language teaching to critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching”, and “conformity to nonconformity to dominant ideologies” in teachers’ professional identities in both groups. The changes were analogous and/or identical in nature but not in quantity, and they should be underscored and incorporated in teacher education programs.

Keywords


Introduction

Language teacher education as the whole of all lived experiences or activities through which individuals learn to become language teachers (Freeman, 2001) has witnessed shifting epistemologies from positivist perspective to interpretive perspective (Johnson, 2009) in the course of its development. It has undergone shifts away from knowledge-centered approach, incorporating model-based learning and applied-science model, to person-centered approach, including humanistic and constructivist approaches, to critical, socio-cultural, and sociopolitical approaches.

The knowledge-centered approach and the person-centered approach are different from each other in their theoretical basis, view of knowledge, view of person, view of teacher, perspective, and methods (Roberts, 1998).

The knowledge-centered approach (Roberts, 1998) is rooted in positivist epistemology (Johnson, 2006) and underscores transfer of externally described and pre-chosen teaching techniques and knowledge to language teachers (Richards, 2008; Richards & Farrell, 2005) whose agencies, beliefs, and earlier experiences are disregarded (Freeman, 1989; Johnson, 2006). Learning how to teach is interpreted as learning the dictated content (Cochran-smith, Shakman, Jong, Terrell, Barnatt, & McQuillan, 2009), and teachers are merely asked to practice experts’ theories transferred to them in teacher preparation programs (Khatib & Miri, 2016; Kumaravadivelu, 2003).

The constructivist (individual/social) approach (Roberts, 1998), a subcategory of person-centered approach, is grounded in interpretive epistemology and views teachers as reflective individuals who can create theories out of their pedagogical practices and put into practice their personal theories (Griffiths, 2000; Kumaravadivelu, 2003; Wallace, 1995). Teachers are not seen as empty containers or inactive technicians to be provided with knowledge and skills of teaching. Rather, they possess background knowledge, previous experiences, and personal beliefs and ideas which inform their teaching knowledge and practice (Freeman & Johnson, 1998). Teachers are viewed as active individuals who make use of complex, effective, real, subjective, and context sensitive systems of knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs to make choices in their teaching (Borg, 2003). The role of teacher education programs is to influence teacher cognition which would in turn result in a shift in teachers’ practices (Borg, 2011). This new understanding stimulates an interest among researchers in teacher cognition (Borg, 2003) and teacher professional identity (Nguyen, 2008; Sutherland, Howard, & Markauskaite, 2010; Tsui, 2007).

From 1980s on, teacher education has shifted away from transfer of knowledge to construction of knowledge where teachers mingle theory and research with experiential and reflective study of their own classroom practices (Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). The emphasis has moved away from content, to teacher, to the process of learning (Freeman, 2001). Teacher education has changed itself and its paradigm away from traditional master-apprentice model towards a model which aims to empower teachers to investigate their context and needs with critical looks and construct their own local methodologies in post method era (McMorrow, 2007).

Since the constructivist approach disregards the political, ethical, and emancipatory aspects of teaching (Akbari, 2007; Jay & Johnson, 2002), a critical, sociocultural and sociopolitical approach within which teachers are not viewed any more as reflective individuals but as “transformative intellectuals” (Giroux, 1992) and “cultural workers” (Freire, 2005) surfaced. This cutting-edge approach to language teacher education by Kumaravadivelu (2012) that is the theoretical framework underlying this study is strongly influenced by globalization, rooted in post method and post transmission epistemological perspectives, and closely in accord with the critical, sociocultural and sociopolitical approaches to language teacher education and aims to educate critical, reflective, strategic, and transformative pedagogues.

 

Literature Review

Kumaravadivelu (2006) maintains that teacher education should underline the development of more reflective, independent, analytical, and transformative teachers who can create and think of local solutions for local problems. It is quite essential for language teacher education to change its fundamental principles because of globalization (Kumaravadivelu, 2012). Adopting a post transmission method of teaching, he suggested a modular model for
pre-service teachers leading to the use of critical pedagogy in the classroom. On the basis of sociocultural epistemology, pre-service teachers should think about their own personal teaching styles and cultural ideologies rather than a specific methodology that has been effective for others in the past (King, 2013). Using ideas from post-transmission and post-method epistemologies, Kumaravadivelu presented three principles of particularity, practicality, and possibility to make his modular teacher education model operational. According to Kumaravadivelu, local contextual factors should determine both the goal and materials of teacher education programs, and local pedagogues should face the challenge, construct a suitable model, and change the current ways of carrying out language teacher education (2012).

Knowing, analyzing, recognizing, doing, and seeing (KARDS) are five modules of the model. Knowing enables teachers to learn how to construct a base for their professional, personal, and procedural knowledge. Analyzing concerns how to investigate learner needs, motivation, and autonomy. Recognizing is about how to identify and acknowledge one’s own identities, beliefs, and values as a teacher. Doing underscores how to teach, construct theories, and talk to/with other teachers or colleagues. Seeing underlines how learners, teachers, and observers view one’s teaching. These modules are non-sequential, independent, interdependent, and symbiotic and synergistic in their interactions.

As it was expressed earlier, the ways scholars view teacher function, teacher role and teacher professional identity in teacher education programs have changed with the advent of different schools of thought. It was within the age of constructivism and later in critical, sociocultural and sociopolitical approach to language teacher education that teacher professional identity came into vogue and gathered momentum.

Teacher professional identity (TPI) deals with teachers’ definition of themselves as teachers, teachers’ assessment of their pedagogical abilities and skills, teachers’ motivation and responsibility with respect to their profession and factors influencing their motivation, teachers’ definition of different facets of their job, and teachers’ attitude on their career progress (Kelchtermans, 1993).

TPI, complex, dynamic, and never-ending in nature (Barrett, 2008), has significant impacts on teachers’ growth and performance (Johnson & Golombek, 2011). Even, from a sociocultural perspective, learning how to teach is not a matter of acquisition of knowledge, but it is mostly a process of professional identity construction (Nguyen, 2008; Varghese, Morgan, Johnston, & Johnson, 2005) and a priority in teacher education programs (Smagorinsky, Cook, Moore, Jackson, & Fry, 2004). Therefore, it is believed that teacher education leads to positive shifts and these changes are contingent on the identities teachers take with them to language classrooms and how they are recreated during teacher education (Singh & Richards, 2006).

Seeing teachers as “transformative intellectuals” (Giroux, 1992) and “cultural workers” (Freire, 2005) has been reflected in a number of studies including critical and transformative teacher education (Hawkins & Norton, 2009) effect on student teachers’ critical awareness of the formation and function of power relations in society (Hawkins, 2004), encouragement of future teachers’ critical thinking on their own identity and status in a society (Stein, 2004), and kinds of pedagogical connections between teacher educators and prospective teachers (Toohey & Waterstone, 2004).

TPI has recently been extensively studied in EFL contexts. The contributions of critical teacher education programs (Abednia, 2012; Goljani Amirkhiz, Moinzadeh, & Eslami-Rasekh, 2018; Khatib & Miri, 2016; Sardabi, Biria & Ameri Golestan, 2018), KARDS (Hassani, Khatib, & Yazdani Moghaddam, 2019b),reflective debates (Biria & Haghighi Irani, 2015), an in-service teacher education program based on Cambridge English Teachers Professional Development (Ahmad, Latada, Nubli Wahab, Shah, & Khan, 2018), CAN (critical autoethnographic narrative) (Yazan, 2018), and observation-based learning (Steenekamp, van der Merwe, & Salieva Mehmedova, 2018) to teachers’ professional identity reconstruction have revealed the efficiency of interventions in EFL contexts.

Despite these studies, the contributions of KARDS to teachers’ professional identity reconstruction has rarely been investigated in EFL/ESL (English as a foreign/second language) contexts to the best knowledge of the researchers. Dearth of research in this specific area in the context of Iran, the big amount of weight given to the process of professional identity reconstruction in teacher education, and the globalized exigency to revolutionize teacher education programs drove the researchers to carry out a research on the effects of a critical, sociocultural, sociopolitical, and transformative teacher education course (KARDS) on Iranian EFL teachers’ professional identity (re)construction in the context of language institutes. A stronger reason behind this study is the fact that EFL teacher education in Iran is largely transmissive and does not care teachers’ voices, beliefs, and ideas.

To fill this gap, this research is an attempt to tackle the following questions.

1. In what ways does KARDS contribute to Iranian EFL language institute teachers’ professional identity (re)construction?

2. What features mainly characterize Iranian EFL language institute teachers’ professional identity before the implementation of KARDS?

3. What features mainly characterize Iranian EFL language institute teachers’ professional identity after the implementation of KARDS?

4. What major shifts are made in Iranian EFL language institute teachers’ professional identity during the implementation of KARDS?

 

 

Method

Participants

Twenty out of thirty-six in-service EFL language institute teachers teaching at Marefat, Pishgaman, Montakhaban, Azadi, and Caspian language institutes with the following demographic data (Table 1) made the participants of the study in the context of Tehran, the capital city of Iran. The participants were chosen using purposive sampling. The researchers purposefully chose language institute teachers who had taken part in pre-service and in-service teacher education programs. In addition, participants were given pseudo names to observe research ethics.

Table 1. Demographic Data for Institute Teachers

Variables

Frequency

Percentage

Mean

Age

LKO

 

 

30.4

MKO

 

 

25.3

Gender

LKO

6 (Male) - 4 (Female)

60% - 40%

 

MKO

6 (Male) - 4 (Female)

60% - 40%

 

Degree

LKO

7 (BA) - 3 (MA)

70% - 30%

 

MKO

5 (BA) - 5 (MA)

50% - 50%

 

Major

LKO

8 (Te) - 2 (Tr)

80% - 20%

 

MKO

5 (Te) - 1 (Li) - 4 (Tr)

50% - 10 % -40%

 

Experience

LKO

 

 

8.7

MKO

 

 

5.8

Note: LKO = Less KARDS-oriented; MKO = More KARDS-oriented; Te= Teaching; Li = Literature;
Tr = Translation

 

To divide the sample of teachers (n=36) into less (n=10) and more (n=10) KARDS-oriented groups, the quartile-based visual binning technique (Pallant, 2016) within SPSS was run on participants’ scores obtained through the administration of the KARDS questionnaire. The results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Less and More KARDS-oriented Institute Teachers

Groups

Participant Number

Frequency

Score Range

Min-Max

Less KARDS-oriented

26, 27, 23, 30, 20, 4, 24, 25, 22, 10

10

134-145

More KARDS-oriented

5, 13, 1, 6, 15, 34, 35, 36, 33, 32

10

161-176

 

Instruments

A KARDS questionnaire, semi-structured pre-course and post-course interviews, teachers’ reflective journals, class and self-assessment portfolios, and teacher educator’s journal were the tools employed in this research.

Procedures

The researchers grouped twenty participants into a more KARDS-oriented group (n=10) and a less KARDS-oriented group (n=10) on the bases of their scores after the administration of the KARDS questionnaire.

An interview framework (Abednia, 2012) including a number of questions posed and grouped on the basis of Kelchtermans’s (1993) conceptualization of teacher (professional) identity along with a few questions extracted from the reviewed studies by Abednia was used (to gather data). The semi-structured interviews lasted from 1 to 1:30 hours. Some interviews were conducted in two sessions not to exhaust interviewees. Interviews were conducted in English since the majority of participating teachers had a good command of English, and they could express themselves well in English. In few cases in which Farsi was spoken, the researchers translated participants’ sentences without making any changes to interviewees’ ideas and intentions.

A critical, sociocultural, sociopolitical, and transformative teacher education program put forth by Kumaravadivelu (2012) was implemented. The researchers described the nature of the study to participants. The fourteen-session treatment which is touched upon in KARDS implementation was in fact the implementation phase of the model in which the researchers held (transformative) courses for participants to: (a) make them familiar with the principles of KARDS; (b) arm them with a critical look towards KARDS in particular and second language teacher education in general; and (c) enable them to analyze it for and in the context of Iran.

Since the researchers aimed to interview teachers prior to and following the implementation phase of KARDS, a semi-structured post-course version of the interview framework made by Abednia (2012) was employed (to collect data).

Drawing on grounded theory, the researchers made use of pre-course and post-course interview results, juxtaposition of pre-course and post-course interview results, teachers’ reflective journals, hours of class and group debates, teachers’ class assessments on program procedures and self-assessments of their own progress, and teacher educator’s journal to identify and extract changes which occurred in teachers’ professional identities.

The researchers used grounded theory to analyze the data. They broke and turned the collected data into meaningful units of analysis through open coding. Axial coding was used to reassemble the data to find meaningful connections between the codes derived in open coding. The extracted categories went through conceptual selective analysis in selective coding. During selective coding, a table was drawn to juxtapose the obtained categories from the first interview and other data gathered from each teacher early in the course with those of their second interview and other data collected late in the course. Hence, the researchers were capable of comparing codes which referred to the same facet of each teacher’s professional identity in two interviews. As a result, the researchers found out the process of professional identity (re)construction experienced by each teacher. The researchers made use of memo writing, theoretical sampling and constant comparison during this process to make their analysis stronger and deeper. They used corrective listening, within-method triangulation, and investigator triangulation to make sure that the data was reliable.

 

KARDS Implementation

The teacher education modular model by Kumaravadivelu whose intension is to educate strategic thinkers, exploratory researchers, and transformative intellectuals by creating future teachers opportunities to (1) ponder over their prior experiences and current teaching practices, (2) be sensitive and responsive to local demands and global issues, and (3) construct and reconstruct their identities was put into practice in a “Teacher Education Course” for language institute teachers in Tehran. The classes met twice a week for 7 weeks. Each session lasted for two hours.

The materials of the course mostly came from Kumaravadiveluʼs teacher education model, and there were also analytical readings (Appendix A). Although there were some sessions of more definite and pre-selected academic content on teacher education in general and Kumaravadiveluʼs teacher education model in particular at the outset, the teacher educator and teachers gradually started to negotiate and renegotiate the rest of the course to consider and value teachers’ different needs, interests, styles of development, and pedagogical purposes. Sometimes, the choice of topics was contingent on ideas which originated from class debates, whereas others were introduced independently by the researchers.

The teacher educator, posing problems, participated in learning process as a participant among teachers. The researchers were clear about the philosophy underlying their way of educating teachers. They made clear the pedagogical nature of the course at the outset. At the same time, they supplied some possibilities for teachers to find some other aspects of teacher education for themselves so that they had more ownership in the course and did not merely conform to the teacher educator’s style which would culminate in a banking concept of education.

Teachers were entitled to be involved in decision making. They were asked to study the materials thoughtfully to analyze issues with respect to their real life experiences. They dialogized with each other over major issues in class through group discussions. We did the readings critically and built links between readings and the teachers’ real life experiences and worries. After the debates, the teacher educator demanded them to write journals on one or more dimensions of the discussed topics to construct their personal perspectives.

To realize the dialogical, critical, and transformative promises of the course better, teachers were asked to write two class-assessments on course procedures and two self-assessments on their own progress.

 

Results

Language institute teachers’ professional identity underwent the following four shifts after the implementation phase of KARDS.

1. A Shift from “Uncertainty of Practice to Certainty of Practice”

There were shifts in teachers’ professional identities from “uncertainty of practice to certainty of practice” in a few less KARDS-oriented teachers. Early in the course, three out of ten teachers’ interview transcripts indicated that they have been un/subconsciously using some of the principles of KARDS in their language classes though they did not know their equivalent technical terms. Seven teachers did not speak either explicitly or implicitly about whether they were employing any one of the tenets of the model or not.

Nahid, Yasaman, and Sara said, “We have been heeding social events, exchange of ideas and experiences, interaction, dialogue with colleagues and parents, and learners’ needs, motivation, and independence in our language classes”.

Yasaman stated, “I try to personalize my lessons to make it easier for my learners to learn them. Sometimes, I try to create a link between the lessons I am teaching and social and real life events”.

Sara and Nahid posited, “It is quite natural that every teacher occasionally has problems with lessons, learners, or even the system s/he is working for. In such cases, we get help from our coworkers. We do not know whether we are doing the right thing or not”.

After the course, there were shifts to “certainty of practice”. The teachers believed that the implementation phase has functioned as a mediational awareness-raising tool and consolidated their previously held ideas since teachers now maintain that there has been solid theoretical evidence behind whatever they have been doing in their language classes.

Nahid, Yasaman, and Sara held

We will use our formerly done pedagogical practices with more certainty in the future. From this moment on, dialogizing, exchange of experiences and ideas with our learners and colleagues, social relevance, self and other transformation, interaction with learners, and learner needs and motivation will receive greater weight in our language classes.

The rest of the teachers were greatly affected by the implementation phase. They underscored dialogizing, learner voice, learner autonomy, particularity of teaching context, power sharing, observation, social relevance, learner motivation, transformation on the part of both learners and teachers, exchange of experiences and ideas, sociopolitical and sociocultural issues, learner agency, post transmission, integration of language skills and interaction. They believed, “A teacher should relate his everyday lessons to out of class activities to make the process of learning and teaching natural and easier”. They maintained, “It is the duty of teachers to change themselves and their students and prepare students for life in the future”. They added, “No teacher knows everything. We should benefit from each other’s ideas and experiences when we face unpredictable events in our language classes”. They held, “Teachers should do their best to create as many learning opportunities as possible, and try not to be the sole transmitter of knowledge. They should put more responsibility on the shoulder of learners”. They expressed, “Now, we do not teach language skills separately. Rather, we integrate them at the time of teaching”.

There were shifts in teachers’ professional identities from “uncertainty of practice to certainty of practice” in more KARDS-oriented teachers. Early in the course, seven out of ten teachers’ interview transcripts demonstrated that they have been un/subconsciously employing some of the tenets of KARDS in their classrooms even though they were not familiar with their equivalent technical terms.

The teachers stated, “We paid attention to dialogizing, needs of learners, exchange of ideas, particularity of teaching context, learner voice, learner autonomy, and power sharing”.

Vahid posited, “The commitment of a teacher is not just to transmit knowledge. Rather, s/he should bring about changes in himself and others. It can be a change in learning, behaving, and thinking”.

Fatema emphasized integration of skills, social issues, and cultural awareness. She believed, “Language skills should not be taught separately. We should mix them at the time of teaching. Also, a teacher should raise his/her learners’ sociocultural consciousness to ready them for life in the future”.

Nayere posited, “Learners should be involved in class activities as active agents. They should be given the right to make decisions about class activities”.

After the course, there were shifts to “certainty of practice”. Teachers were pleased that the path they had taken has been logical. Teachers expressed that they would practice their previously held ideas and teaching practices which are aligned with the model with certainty since this model raised their awareness and ensured them that whatever teaching behaviors and practices they have had in their classes are theoretically justifiable and solid.

Some teachers said, “Now, we underscore our learner needs, teaching context, power sharing, learner autonomy, learner voice, dialogizing, and social relevance in our language classes.” They added, “We are working with learners who have different needs in every teaching context. To meet their needs, we should give them power and voice to express their needs freely.”

Fatema believed, “Now, I pay more attention to integration of skills and think of theorizing in my own language classes. Some teachers can theorize if they build the knowledge and the confidence”.

Nasrin expressed, “Now, I try to be more reflective, transformative and critical, and pay more attention to learners’ experiences, sociopolitical issues, and stress-free classes”.

Nayere and Ali profoundly believed in post-transmission. They believed, “It is not just the duty of a teacher to transfer his/her knowledge. Rather, they should look for and bring about (positive) changes in themselves and the learners”.

Mohammad said, “I heed teacher awareness, observation of others’ classes, and exchange of ideas more”.

Ali looked at language as ideology and did his best to maximize learning opportunities. He stated, “In the past, I thought language is a system including phonology, syntax, semantics, … . Now, I think language is for communication of ideas”.

Vahid believed, “Teachers are in fact co-learners, and they should give importance to language and sociocultural awareness”. He held, “A teacher should be a life-long learner too”.

Fatema and Vahid paid more attention to integration of skills and intuitive heuristics. They maintained, “Teachers should help their learners to learn and internalize the rules of a language that deal with grammatical usage and communicative needs on their own”.

Mahyar maintained, “Nowadays, I heed particularity of every teaching context, learner-teacher exchange of experiences, and needs of learners. I also think that a single method will not work in every situation and every class needs a specific method of teaching”.

To sum up, the shift from “uncertainty of practice to certainty of practice” was more tangible and significant in more KARDS-oriented teachers. Seven more KARDS-oriented teachers experienced the shift whereas three less KARDS-oriented teachers underwent the shift.

2. A Movement from “the Use of Fewer Macro-strategies to the Use of More Macro-strategies”

There were shifts in teachers’ professional identities from “the use of fewer macro-strategies to the use of more macro-strategies” in less KARDS-oriented teachers. Early in the course, teachers’ speeches indicated that some of them were using a few macro-strategies. Teachers did not speak about macro-strategies very much during the first interview as if they did not know them or they did not use them very often. After the course, there were shifts to “the use of more macro-strategies”.

Teachers underscored integration of language skills, sociopolitical and sociocultural awareness, maximization of learning opportunities, transformation on the part of both learners and teachers, dialogizing, and social relevance. They said, “From now on, we will do our best to relate a skill we are teaching to other skills”. They added, “It is our duty to promote our learners’ sociopolitical and sociocultural awareness through social events on the basis of the context in which we are teaching”. They believed, “We should relate teaching/learning materials to social events”. They added, “Dialog is the way to success in every educational setting”.

Sanaz believed that this model has raised her teaching awareness. She believed, “I am more creative in teaching, think sometimes of theorizing, and can think strategically now. I now try to maximize learning opportunities in my classes. I try to use more macro-strategies in my classes to create more learning opportunities”.

There were shifts in teachers’ professional identities from “the use of fewer macro-strategies to the use of more macro-strategies” in more KARDS-oriented teachers. Early in the course, nine out of ten teachers’ speeches revealed that they were using a few macro-strategies. After the course, there were shifts to “the use of more macro-strategies”.

The teachers maintained, “We pay more attention to social and cultural issues through classroom participation. In this way, social, political, and economic issues will be important to learners”.

Ali, Mahyar, Arman, Shahab, Fatema, and Vahid underlined integration of language skills. They believed, “At the time of teaching a skill, we should relate it to other skills as naturally as possible”.

Interaction and learner autonomy received great importance from Ali and Mahyar. They two maintained, “There should be learner-learner, learner-teacher, and teacher-learner interactions in language classes”.

Fatema and Vahid emphasized intuitive heuristics. They held, “Teachers should empower learners to discover and internalize the rules of the language they are learning.”

As the results of this part show, the shift from “the use of fewer macro-strategies to the use of more macro-strategies” was more significant in more KARDS-oriented teachers (n=9) than less KARDS-oriented teachers.

3. A Shift from “Linguistic and Technical View of Language Teaching to Critical, Educational, and Transformative View of Language Teaching”

There were shifts in less KARDS-oriented teachers’ professional identities from “linguistic and technical view of language teaching to critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching”. Early in the course, teachers’ speeches indicated that the majority of teachers had an intense linguistic and technical view of language teaching. Teachers did not know enough about the critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching. That may be one of the (weak) points of mainstream second language education that has sacrificed broader sociopolitical issues for linguistic side of language teaching (Pennycook, 1990; Phillipson, 1992; Widdowson, 2000). This technical orientation persuades teachers to agree with and support the most current methods and techniques of teaching without almost any serious thought on ideological and political facets of education (Bartolome, 2004; Freire, 2005).

The majority of teachers believed, “Language is made up of some components we should master. We should teach those components well. We are just transmitters of the things we have learned”.

After the course, there were shifts to the “critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching”. As a result of the teacher education course, teachers did not have a mere linguistic view to language teaching any more. Rather, they considered language as something more than a system including phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. As the course went on, the participants started to rethink their previous perceptions and dealt with a social and educational approach to ELT which gives priority to objectives such as awareness raising and social change. They talked more about consciousness raising and changing the status quo than about gaining experience. Teachers reorganized their professional priorities, and they were more in line with a more humanistic, social and emancipatory approach to education.

Some teachers believed, “We should bring about change in people and society”. Some other teachers put particular stress on raising students’ awareness.

Sanaz believed

This model has raised my teaching awareness. I am more creative in teaching and can think strategically now. This model changed my perspective to teaching as a career. Now, I look for changes in myself and my learners. I try to help them change their minds, outlooks, and lives.

Teachers underlined sociopolitical and sociocultural issues, social relevance, and transformation on the part of both learners and teachers. They said, “There are social, cultural and political issues in every class since every class is a small community in nature. Students should learn how to get along with each other when there are problems in their small community”. They held, “Teachers, should relate their teaching/learning materials to social events. That can be done through personalization of lessons that can create a link between class events and out of class events”. They said, “As we change our clothing styles, eating habits and life styles to keep ourselves updated, we should bring about changes in ourselves and our learners to prepare them for life in the future”.

Nahid stated

Sometimes, I do my best to raise the awareness of my learners’ parents. For example, I ask for their cooperation. I speak to them in person to inform them of the status of their children. I ask them to visit my classes to let them know what is happening inside.

There were shifts in more KARDS-oriented teachers’ professional identities from “linguistic and technical view of language teaching to critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching”. Early in the course, teachers’ statements demonstrated that the majority of teachers had a linguistic and technical view of language teaching. Teachers were not familiar with the critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching.

After the course, there were shifts to the “critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching”. Some teachers held that they should bring about change in people and society. Some other teachers underlined students’ consciousness raising.

Arman and Shahab said

We now try to relate our class activities to out of class activities when it is possible. For example, we ask our learners to create a link between the lesson they read and the society they live in. It sometimes help them to have a critical look. We think learners have voice and power in such activities. They have the right to express their own ideas.

Fatema expressed

Nowadays, I reflect more on my class events to learn from them. In the past, after the class I did not pay any attention to my learners. Now, I am sometimes busy with them during the week. I mean their status, progress, needs …. are more important to me. In addition, I try to raise my learners’ sociocultural awareness through posing challenging activities. These activities tell me how they think, look, analyze, and decide.

Teachers underscored language and sociocultural awareness, learner needs, teaching context, power sharing, learner autonomy, learner voice, dialogizing, and social relevance.

To summarize it, the shift was deeper in more KARDS-oriented teachers (n=9) than less KARDS-oriented teachers (n=7) since their ideas were to a greater extent in line with those of Kumaravadivelu’s before, during, and after the implementation phase.

4. A Movement from “Conformity to Nonconformity to Dominant Ideologies”

There were shifts in teachers’ professional identities “from conformity to nonconformity to dominant ideologies” in less KARDS-oriented teachers. Early in the course, teachers’ speeches indicated that teachers complied with dominant ideologies put forth by well-known scholars, authors, and giants of the field. This orientation was to some extent reflected in some of their early reflective journals. Many of them did not write down their own opinions. They were, in fact, reproducing whatever they had read. Their reflective journals reflected experts’ opinions with a little room left for their own thoughts.

This technical-rational nature of teacher training usually trains teachers who are minimally involved in decision-making. It also minimizes teachers’ involvement in the process of the establishment of educational policies and their contribution to the practical level of teaching (Ben-Peretz, 2001). That is why many policy makers are frightened by teachers’ ideas of constructing their own lessons. Policymakers maintain that teachers should just deliver prescribed lessons (Imig & Imig, 2006). This ideology cripples teachers’ critical stance to the point that many of them dare not to interrogate the superordinate status given on the mainstream reading of education (Bartolome, 2004). It was observed that the teachers taking part in this study were not exempt from this phenomenon. Teachers seemed to have ideologies imposed by authorities including language institute managers, theoreticians, and material developers.

Almost many of the teachers had a submissive stance to ideologies and tenets transmitted by theoreticians, scholars, and material developers. The teachers believed, “Scholars have the right understanding of ELT”. The teachers didn’t seem to have a critical view towards those ideas.  They didn’t heed their own ideas, experiences, beliefs, and values. For example, Yasaman, Mohsen, and Sanaz maintained, “We should refer to teacher’s guide as a thorough recipe”. Hossein and Mojtaba blindly followed the ideas and guidelines put forth in ELT books.

Some teachers were reluctant to express their ideas on institutional rules and adopted a submissive stance not to interfere with the system they were working for. They maintained, “We are the teachers of language institutes, and we should comply with their rules”.

Some teachers preferred to work for a well-known institute in which a specific method was practiced. For example, Yasaman, Hossein, and Mojtaba believed, “We prefer to be obedient to language institute rules since we don’t have the right to express our views about their system and the authorities do not take us seriously”.

After the course, there were shifts to “nonconformity to dominant ideologies”. The second interview, class discussions, and reflective journals written during the course seemed to have encouraged the teachers to define their teacher self and consider and prioritize their professional responsibilities anew. Teachers tried their best to free themselves from self-made or other-made cages and were brave enough to practice their own experiences.

The findings indicate that the teachers had become more conscious of their old uncritical habits and attitudes and had started to change them. They also became more mindful of restrictions imposed on them by authorities and institutions. As a result, they had started to define their own positions, rights, and roles anew.

After the course, some teachers started to behave towards the rules critically and develop and respect their own principles and personal theories based on which they would define their professional responsibilities. For example, Yasaman, Hossein, Mojtaba, and Sanaz said, “We should not accept everything without logic. We feel powerless when authorities make decisions on our behalf. We are teachers, and we should be involved in decision making”. They believed, “Authorities should have authority, but they do not have the right to abuse their power and dictate their ideas (Kanpol, 1999)”.

There were shifts in teachers’ professional identities “from conformity to nonconformity to dominant ideologies” in more KARDS-oriented teachers. Early in the course, teachers’ statements demonstrated that teachers conformed to dominant ideologies put forth by well-known scholars. This orientation was quite visible in some of their early reflective journals. Their reflective journals included reproductions of experts’ opinions.

Some teachers were not willing to express their ideas on institutional rules and adopted a subservient stance not to interfere with the system they were working for. They maintained, “We are just the teachers of institutes, and we should observe their rules though they are not humane”. Some teachers preferred to work for a famous institute in which a specific method was practiced, and they were not supposed to be creative, innovative, and flexible. For example, Fatema, Ali, and Neda believed, “We prefer to observe language institute rules since authorities don’t give us voice and power to comment on their system and they do not take us seriously”.

Almost many of the teachers had a submissive stance to ideologies and tenets transmitted by theoreticians, scholars, and material developers. The teachers stated, “Whatever they express about ELT is right”. The teachers didn’t seem to have a critical look towards those ideas. They disregarded their own ideas, experiences, beliefs, and values. For example, Ali, Mahyar, Nasrin, and Vahid maintained, “Teacher’s guide is a thorough recipe”. Nayere and Arman blindly conformed to the ideas and guidelines put forth in ELT books. The majority of teachers believed, “We must believe in the usefulness and relevance of English textbooks since they are written by well-known authors and publications”.

After the course, there were shifts to “nonconformity to dominant ideologies”. The second interview, class discussions, and reflective journals seemed to have helped the teachers to rethink and restructure their new responsibilities and priorities. Teachers tried their best to get rid of self and other-imposed ideologies and were courageous enough to practice their own experiences.

They started to look atthe institutional rules critically and develop and use their own personal knowledge. For example, Fatema, Ali, Neda, and Arman said, “We should not accept everything blindly. We feel disempowered when authorities decide on our behalf. We are teachers, and we should be engaged in the process of decision making”. They believed, “Authorities should have authority, but they do not have the right to misuse their power and dictate their ideas”.

Teachers’ attitudes toward textbooks changed as well. During the course and after the post course interview, teachers changed their mind and posited, “It is quite logical to adapt books since they are written by authors who do not know enough about the needs, interest, and context of the learners they are writing for”. They gained self-confidence and did not blindly admit all the ideologies expressed through teachers’ guides. Their level of awareness accorded with Freire’s finding that teachers’ critical reflection on their teaching practice does not very much depend on teachers’ guide books which are written by “illuminated intellectuals who occupy the center of power” (Freire, 1998, p. 43).

To sum up, these changes were more noticeable in more KARDS-oriented teachers. They underwent more changes since they were more willing to make changes in themselves. They believed, “Changes are inevitable, natural, and necessary, and they should experience changes to survive in the realm of learning and teaching to keep themselves updated”.

 

Discussion

As the results of the research indicate, there are four major shifts which are similar and/or identical in nature but not in quantity to teachers’ professional identities in both groups.

Teaching is unavoidably uncertain (Flodden & Clark, 1988). Uncertainty, inevitable and essential in nature, is a significant and inseparable part of teaching. It is in fact a stimulus that cannot and should not be removed (McDonald, 1986). Uncertainties of knowledge and action (what is true? and what should teachers do?) are inevitable since teaching embraces variable and impossible to know humans and tensions that make one’s choice of action difficult (Flodden & Clark, 1988).

Teacher education programs can decrease uncertainty of pre-service teachers through arming them with further knowledge, skills, routines (certainty-raising tools) and raising teachers’ knowledge of uncertainty moderately. They should restrict attention to the most important or noticeable uncertainties for inexperienced teachers in pre-service programs, introduce other uncertainties in in-service programs, and help teachers recognize the sources of uncertainty. In-service education may only better teachers’ knowledge of uncertainty and put forth additional strategies for dealing with it (Flodden & Clark, 1988). Since KARDS aims to provide teachers with teaching knowledge and skills, enhance teachers’ cultural, political, and social consciousness, and equip them with macro-strategies of teaching, it can be used to reduce teachers’ uncertainties of knowledge and action.

Teachers can diminish their uncertainties through debating them with other teachers and colleagues and improving their own knowledge and skills. In-service teachers may also profit from instruction or field research in their own classrooms devised to help them in seeing, understanding, and tackling uncertainty (Flodden & Clark, 1988). Teacher candidates should not avoid moments of confusion, but rather adopt them as necessary parts of their learning process (Gordon, 2006). Teachers must keep a “double consciousness” (Scheffler, 1984, p. 163) which empowers them to take action and to probe and revise their practice in the light of empirical and normative consequences. Since KARDS aims at constructing and improving teachers’ professional, procedural, and personal knowledge and skills through dialog, action research and teacher research and drives teachers to rethink and restructure their pedagogical practices based on three principles of particularity, possibility, and practicality, it can be used to decrease uncertainties of teachers.

Teacher educators should size up and adopt any source of intellectual ideas in teacher education contexts and move confidently forward after assessing the possibilities (Flodden & Clark, 1988). KARDS can be considered as an alternative to this end for its principle of possibility which underscores power-sharing by means of which teachers can air their voices. Teacher educators should acquaint teachers with countless uncertainties they may face in their work to call their attention to more far-off, yet inspiring aims, assist teachers in learning to make judgments when it may be worthwhile to increase certainty, and encourage teachers to look at remaining uncertainties as vital driving force in teaching (Floden & Bauchmann, 1993). They should help teachers to attach importance to and stress the importance of confusion and uncertainty and model uncertainty in their teaching (Gordon, 2006).

Making room for confusion and uncertainty in our language classes is necessary for the goal of having citizens who are analytical and independent thinkers (Gordon, 2006). This goal is in line with the principle of possibility.

The findings of this study accord with studies conducted by Ebadi and Gheisari (2016), Maseko (2018), and Johnson and Golombek (2011). Ebadi and Gheisari concluded that teachers’ concepts of teaching and classroom behavior can be modified and constructed through consciousness-raising of and critical thinking on their teaching behaviors. Maseko (2018) maintained that it is quite possible to actualize pre-service teachers’ role as a change agents and reconstruct teachers’ professional identity through transformative praxis affected by critical consciousness. Also, the findings back up the findings of Johnson and Golombek which indicated that the process of professional development for in-service teachers in their conceptualization of present thinking and re-contextualization of their classroom practice must be supported by supplying repeated and suitable dialogic mediation using such tools as consciousness-raising and critical thinking.

The shift from “the use of fewer macro-strategies to the use of more macro-strategies” is in accord with the findings of a study conducted by Birjandi and Hashamdar (2014). They found out that macro-strategies of teaching by Kumaravadivelu (2003, 2006) can be practiced if teachers change them into micro-strategies on the basis of the context in which they are teaching.

The shifts from “linguistic and technical view of language teaching to critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching” and “conformity to nonconformity to dominant ideologies” accord with the findings of the studies by Abednia (2012) and Sardabi, Biria, and Ameri Golestan (2018). The study by Abednia showed that there were shifts from “linguistic and technical view of language teaching to educational view” and “conformity to and romanticization of dominant ideologies to critical autonomy” in teachers’ professional identities who underwent a critical EFL teacher education course in Iran.The research bySardabi, Biria, and Ameri Golestan (2018) who investigated the contributions of a critical pedagogy-informed teacher education course to novice EFL teachers’ professional identity construction indicated that there were two major shifts from “an attitude of conformity to development of voice” and “a narrow view of EFL teaching to a humanistic view of teaching” to teachers’ professional identities. They recommended the application of dialogic discussions and written reflective tasks in teacher education programs to plant the seeds of critical ideas in novice EFL teachers.

 

Conclusion

Shifts from “uncertainty of practice to certainty of practice”, “the use of fewer macro- strategies to the use of more macro-strategies”, “linguistic and technical view of language teaching to critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching”, and “conformity to nonconformity to dominant ideologies” are four big changes to teachers’ professional identities which should be underlined and included into teacher education programs.

Teacher educators and teacher education programs should raise the awareness of practicing teachers’ teaching behaviors, reflect critically on their teaching behaviors, use transformative praxis informed by critical consciousness, decrease but not eradicate teachers’ uncertainties, raise novice teachers’ consciousness of uncertainties moderately and put forth additional strategies for in-service teachers, make room for confusion and uncertainty in language classrooms, help teachers to develop voice and have a broader view of ELT, drive teachers to use more macro-strategies, and raise teachers’ critical autonomy to bring about changes in teachers’ professional identities.

This research may prepare the way for further studies in the area of language teacher education. Further research should look into the contributions of KARDS to teachers’ professional identities in the context of high schools.

The findings of this research may stimulate teacher education programs, teacher educators, and teachers to welcome and embrace uncertainty and confusion, underscore macro-strategies, adopt a critical, educational, and transformative view of language teaching, and prevent conformity to English language teaching (ELT) dominant ideologies in language classrooms. They may supply some worthwhile sagacity for language teacher education policy makers and materials developers, teacher educators, practicing teachers, supervisors, mentors, mentees, and other stake holders in the realm of language teacher education.

 

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