Emotions that experienced english as a foreign language (efl) teachers feel about their students, their colleagues and their work

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Teaching and Teacher Education 27 (2011) 235e242

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Teaching and Teacher Education
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/tate

Emotions that experienced English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers feel about their students, their colleagues and their work
Neil Cowie*
Language Education Center, Okayama University, Kita ku, Tsushima-naka 2-1-1,Okayama 700-8530, Japan

a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history: Received 16 October 2009 Received in revised form 4 August 2010 Accepted 25 August 2010 Keywords: EFL teachers Higher education Emotions Teacher identity Carers Moral guides

a b s t r a c t
This study examines what contribution emotions make to the professional lives of experienced EFL teachers. Interviews with EFL teachersworking in Tokyo universities revealed that the teachers had very positive feelings of emotional warmth regarding students, which they expressed through their identity as carers and moral guides. On the other hand, the teachers expressed their relationships with colleagues and institutions in much more negative emotional terms. Two implications for teacher development are suggested: the need forteachers to talk collaboratively about the emotional impact of teaching, and the need to discuss what the moral purpose of EFL teaching is. Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction An EFL teacher’s professional life involves relationships with students, colleagues, parents and many others connected to the institutions that they work in. Such a teacher’s career development maytouch on all these relationships as he or she strives to further their subject and pedagogic knowledge and to develop their classroom skills and competence. Research on teacher development has extensively examined pedagogical and cognitive concerns, especially of novice teachers (Freeman & Richards, 1996), but there has been much less of a focus on how relationships that experienced teachers have withothers in the workplace can effect development. In particular, there has been little investigation of the emotions that being a teacher in these networks of relationships can engender. This is an important omission as teaching is ‘irretrievably emotional’ (Hargreaves, 2000, p. 812) and may be especially so for EFL teachers who, as well as experiencing the anxieties and excitement of teachingitself, may also be in a foreign country with all the emotional challenges to one’s sense of self and identity that that implies. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to examine what contribution emotions make in the professional lives of experienced EFL teachers and to see what the field can learn for fostering teacher development that takes account of the importance of emotions.

2. Role ofemotion in teaching The following section provides background information for the study on emotion and EFL teaching to follow. Research linking emotion and teacher development is surveyed with emerging themes from studies in education being the impact of educational reform and the negative effects of teacher development; and, from the much more limited EFL literature the link between anxiety andstudent learning is prominent. 2.1. Emotion in education Most studies on emotion and teacher development have been carried out by researchers working in general education contexts rather than within EFL. A major theme in such literature is that of the connection between emotion and school reform. This usually means large-scale educational change as instituted by national governments (Darby, 2008;Fullan, 1993, 1999; Hargreaves & Fullan, 1998; Little, 1996). Much of this work has been done by Hargreaves (1998, 2000, 2005) and his co-researchers (Lasky, 2000; Schmidt, 2000) on a project on the ‘Emotions of Teaching and Educational Change’. Hargreaves argues that educational change has focused on trying to improve standards by emphasising the rational and cognitive processes that underlie...
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