Theorizing and Analyzing Language Teacher Agency

Edited by: Hayriye Kayi-Aydar, Xuesong (Andy) Gao, Elizabeth R. Miller, Manka Varghese, Gergana Vitanova

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This volume examines the agency of second/foreign language teachers in diverse geographical contexts and in both K-12 and adult education. It offers new understandings and conceptualizations of second/foreign language teacher agency through a variety of types of empirical data. It also demonstrates the use of different methodologies or analytic tools to study the multidimensional, dynamic and complex nature of second/foreign language teacher agency. The chapters draw on a range of theories and approaches to language teacher agency (including ecological theory, positioning theory, complexity theory and actor-network theory) that expand our understanding of the concept, while at the same time presenting various analytic approaches such as discourse studies and narrative inquiry. The chapters also analyze the connection of agency to other relevant topics, such as teacher identity, emotions, positioning and autonomy.

This edited volume is a welcome addition to the growing literature on teacher identity with a specific emphasis on teacher agency. The contributors focus on the complexities of teacher agency in a wide range of K-12 and adult education contexts, employing high-level theorizing and innovative research methodologies. This volume is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how teachers can and do make a difference.

David Block, ICREA and Universitat de Lleida, Spain

The chapters in this engaging and important volume span an impressive range of contexts, theoretical lenses, methods, and consequences. An indispensable read for those of us seeking more nuanced understandings of the complex interplay between teachers' agentive possibilities and the limits of individual agency in the face of structural constraints.

Suhanthie Motha, University of Washington, USA

These are increasingly illiberal times that dull the joys of teaching and repress the potential for pedagogies that best serve the interests of students and their communities. Rightly so, the notion of agency has emerged as a crucial construct in language teacher identity work. This timely book combines theory and practice in principled ways that will inspire and inform a transformative potential in second/additional language settings.

Brian Morgan, Glendon College/York University, Canada

This edited collection serves as a tremendous resource to language and education researchers, teacher educators, and other education professionals seeking to develop a nuanced understanding of language teacher agency, its possibilities and its limits, as well as to those individuals seeking to design innovative LTA research. This volume will surely animate rich discussion about the role of language teachers as transformative agents within the multi-layered systems in which they work.

Teachers College Record, 2020

Hayriye Kayi-Aydar is an Assistant Professor of English Applied Linguistics at the University of Arizona, USA.

Xuesong (Andy) Gao is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Elizabeth R. Miller is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA.

Manka Varghese is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA.

Gergana Vitanova is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida, USA.

Chapter 1. Hayriye Kayi-Aydar, Xuesong (Andy) Gao, Elizabeth R. Miller, Manka Varghese, Gergana Vitanova: Introduction     

Chapter 2. Hayriye Kayi-Aydar: Language Teacher Agency: Major Theoretical Considerations, Conceptualizations, and Methodological Choices


Chapter 3. Aliza Fones: Examining High School English Language Learner Teacher Agency: Opportunities and Constraints

Chapter 4. G. Sue Kasun, J. Spencer Clark, A. Jyoti Kaneria & Emmie Staker: "What if you don't have boots," let alone bootstraps? An ELL Teacher's Use of Narrative to Achieve and Generate Agency in the Face of Contextual Constraints              

Chapter 5. Amber N. Warren: Language Teacher Agency and High-Stakes Teacher Evaluation: A Positioning Analysis              

Chapter 6. Alison Stewart: Using Actor-Network Theory to Problematize Agency and Identity Formation of Filipino Teachers in Japan           

Chapter 7. Michele Back: World Language Teachers Performing and Positioning Agency in Classroom Target Language Use       

Chapter 8. Patricia Venegas-Weber: Bi/multilingual Teachers' Professional Holistic Lives: Agency to Enact Inquiry-based and Equity-oriented Identities Across School Contexts  


Chapter 9. Emily Edwards: English Language Teachers' Agency and Identity Mediation through Action Research: A Vygotskian Sociocultural Analysis            

Chapter 10. Wenjing Li & Peter De Costa: Problematizing English Language Teaching in China through a Local Chinese English Teacher Agency Lens     

Chapter 11. Patricia Mayes: Teacher Authority and the Collaborative Construction of Agency in Second Language Writing Instruction

Chapter 12. Karin Zotzmann: Language Teacher Agency: A Critical Realist Perspective     

Chapter 13. Xia Chao: Volunteer Teacher Agency in a Church-based ESL Program: An Ethnography

Chapter 14. Priti Sandhu: English Language Instructors, Medium of Education, and Professional Agency: An Indian Perspective      

Afterword. Anne Feryok


Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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