Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education and Human Development

Committee Chair/Advisor

Golnaz Arastoopour Irgens

Committee Member

Luke Rapa

Committee Member

Mikel Cole

Committee Member

Jacquelynn Malloy


This study examined the identity tensions and negotiations of novice three English teachers in Costa Rica, and English as a foreign language context. Grounded in a Communities of Practice framework, this research describes how teachers’ identities are constrained and enabled in complicated academic, social, and political settings. In this study, identity tensions referred to dilemmas that juxtaposed internal and external expectations, values, and practices. Negotiations referred to teachers’ choices, proposals, and changes that denoted their appropriation or contestation of practices and meanings of their communities of practice. I used narrative inquiry to collect and analyze teachers’ experiences learning English and teaching it. Data sources included three interviews and teaching-related artifacts to elicit and examine stories of their lived experience. Data analysis combined two-cycle qualitative coding, discourse network analysis, and short story analysis.

Findings suggest that teachers’ identity tensions emerged from a personal and institutional desire for English native-like proficiency associated with professional competence. Specifically, language tensions were mainly about feeling inferior to a native speaker or real English, feeling ashamed, and feeling not good enough. The teachers recognized a gap between their English level and an imagined and superior English speaker. Teaching tensions derived from traces of institutional and governmental neoliberal agenda instilling desire for the English language, which commodified English and constrained teachers’ development. Teachers’ identities were impacted by a gap between theory and practice, a mismatch between teacher education and teaching context, and inconsistencies of the English education program they were teaching. Teachers’ negotiations of their language tensions focused on dedicating to their teaching activities, changing idealized desires or goals for their linguistic proficiency, and understanding the underlying mechanisms of their tensions. Teaching negotiations involved teachers’ transformation, compromises, and development of a teaching style. Altogether, these negotiations underline the need to cultivate teachers’ linguistic and pedagogical diversity.

This study contributes to language teaching education and teacher development by providing insights into the role of imagined identities, emotions, and narratives.

Author ORCID Identifier




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