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III Chinese Teachers Abroad: Adapting to Other Contexts

Discursive Construction of Chinese Language Teacher Identity

Chun Zhang


In recent years, researchers within the field of TCFL1 (teaching Chinese as a foreign language) have begun to examine the notion of Chinese language teacher identity (Bianco, 2009; Cruickshank, 2011; Gao, 2012; Zhang & Jensen, 2013; Zhang, 2013); however, whilst insightful, this research has not addressed the ways in which Chinese language teachers identify themselves while interacting with students and how they construct their identities as TCFL teachers in other cultures. In this study, I address this research gap by exploring the discursive construction of three native Chinese language teachers (NCLTs)2 teaching Chinese to Danish students. Guided by a framework of teacher identity-in-discourse (Clarke, 2008; Morgan, 2004; Varghese, Morgan, & Johnson, 2005), I examine how three NCLTs construct their teacher identity in response to various discourses that position them in particular ways. To do so, I first examine their interaction with Danish students by looking at how three NCLTs identify themselves, how they relate the interactions to themselves, and how they view the interaction from the perspectives of their own culture and other cultures.

I begin this chapter with a brief discussion of the relevant literature. I then continue to employ the concept of 'teacher identity-in-discourse' to explore the process of constructing identities as TCFL teachers. Rather than conceptualising teacher identity construction as a product, I describe the teachers' identity at various points throughout their work in China and Denmark.

By examining the role of NCLTs in TCFL at tertiary level education in different countries through the lens of teacher identity (Gee, 2000), this study offers an original contribution to the field of TCFL. Furthermore, by drawing upon the experiences of three NCLTs in Denmark, this study allows us to consider the teachers' capacity to construct identities as teachers in an intercultural context.

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