Liz Ellis
Liz Ellis

Liz Ellis is Associate Professor at University of New England in Australia. Dr Ellis has extensive experience in teaching applied linguistics and English as a Second and Foreign Language, and in educating language teachers. Her research interests are in bilingualism, especially bilingual teacher cognition and bilingual family language practices, and in sociolinguistic perspectives on monolingualism.


Language teacher identity research, despite widespread recognition of the contested, complex and discursive nature of identity, has remained mired in the dichotomy of native- and non-native speaker teachers. Inequitable employment opportunities keep the dichotomy alive in TESOL, even as scholars argue against it by repositioning non-native teachers as 'bilinguals'. The latter initiative both limits the reach of the term 'bilingual' and transfers the stigma of 'non-native' to 'bilingual' via the process of euphemisation. Further, native-speaker teachers are virtually always presumed to be monolinguals. This paper responds to Pavlenko's call (2003:266) for "new discourses, new identity options and new imagined communities" within TESOL. It acknowledges Faez' (2011) framing of teachers' linguistic identities as situated and co-constructed, and chimes with Motha et al's (2012) call for 'translinguistic identity-as-pedagogy'. The paper reports an approach which eschews traditional language identity categories. It proposes that TESOL teachers' languaged lives - their experiences of learning, using and teaching languages - are foundational to the informing and shaping of their identities, and much more significant to their teaching practice than earlier identity ascriptions involving 'nativeness'.

The paper reports selected data from four studies conducted over several years involving over a hundred teachers in several countries. The studies explored teachers' complex 'languaged lives' as L2 learners, users and teachers (Ellis, 2016) and the connections of those lived experiences to their current professional beliefs. The paper employs the concept of plurilingual repertoires (Taylor and Snoddon 2013) and draws on theory in teacher cognition (Borg 2009), teacher identity studies (Motha et al 2012), bilingual lifewriting (Besemeres 2002) and the place of L1 in the learning of L2 (Cook 2007) to argue for a reconceptualization of the role of teachers' language biographies in research on teacher identity and teacher professional learning.

Seminarierna med Dr Liz Ellis var ett samarrangemang mellan Institutionen för språkdidaktik och Centrum för tvåspråkighetsforskning.