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The teacher

For these six teachers in this study, the structure of their lived experience of the teacher includes those who have experienced some catalytic event or process that led to a change in how they viewed their practice. The Chinese notion of responsibility is also at the centre of their perception of the teacher's identity, as is a radical focus on the student in all that they do. Additionally, teachers are concerned with affective issues, especially maintaining strong relationships that fulfil their idea of jiao shu yu ren. Finally, the teachers demand hard work, both from themselves and their students.

Catalytic event

All six teachers in this study experienced some kind of catalytic event or process that changed their conception of teaching from more to less traditional. The teachers generally did not have much pedagogical knowledge from their pre-field training. As P41 put it, 'In the middle school, the first year, you know, I was just a little bit confused' (599). But change came for them through participation in various kinds of professional development experiences. P41 and P31 developed an increased sense of professionalism in going to the UK and United States, respectively, for graduate study. For P1, participating in a summer Chinese-language teaching program run by an American university taught her that teacher talk should be reduced and student talk increased. P21 and P25 both experienced a change in thinking through their MA programs in China, where they were introduced to new theories and had to consider how to apply them in their own contexts.

But P5's experience was perhaps the most interesting because it was different than the other teachers in this study. In the countryside school in the town where his family had been sent in the 1960s and 1970s, the extent of his English teacher's instruction was the command to memorise words. A family friend, however, offered to teach him English, but required P5 to commit to hard work. He began to memorise a new text each week, reciting the previous lessons by memory before learning the new one. After six months, he found that he was reciting for more than two hours at the beginning of each lesson! But he also found that his ability to communicate had far surpassed any of his teachers, to the extent that he was called upon to be the new English teacher in his town upon graduation. Today, this use of memorised texts is central to his teaching practice for beginning L2 students.

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