Language Teachers as Materials Developers: Identity as a Lens

Year: 2021

Author: Li, Jiao, Cui, Xuehai

Type of paper: Pre-Recorded Individual Paper

Pre-recorded presentation link: years, language teachers have been increasingly expected to design, or adapt materials amid the changing educational environment. Technological developments have motivated teachers to utilize multimodal resources such as videos, augmented reality games, and pictures as pedagogical materials (Guerrettaz and Johnston, 2013). In addition, the rise of English as a global lingua franca have urged language teachers, particularly those in EFL contexts to design locally appropriate materials to claim ownership of English. However, most studies on materials development have focused on materials evaluation, materials use and the procedures and principles of designing materials, while language teachers as materials developers in designing locally appropriate materials remains under-explored (Garton & Graves, 2014; Guerrettaz et al., 2018). Considering the challenges facing English language teachers to shift their role from materials users to materials developers (Ramos & Aguirre), it becomes urgent to understand teachers’ experiences in taking up this role of materials developers.  The study employed a multimethod approach to investigating the challenges experienced by language teachers in designing pedagogical materials in China and the strategies they used to deal with these challenges. At the first phase of the study, we interviewed language teachers who had designed or were designing materials to gain a general understanding of their experiences; at the second phase of the study, we investigated four teachers in an in-depth way by collecting interview data, policy documents, artifacts and so forth over the period of designing materials. From a sociocultural perspective, this study adopted teachers’ professional identity as a lens (Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004) to unravel the complexity of becoming a materials developer in participating in a community of materials development. Preliminary findings revealed that teachers had challenges in relation to knowledge and emotion that were influenced by such contextual factors as institutional policy requirements, the publishing market and community cooperation. Additionally, teachers employed a wide range of strategies to deal with problems in taking part in the activity of materials development. This study fills up the knowledge lacunas in terms of teachers’ experiences of developing locally appropriate materials and shed light on the complexities of materials development through the lens of teachers’ identity construction.