Language use and novice teacher identity in an online Community of Practice
This paper investigates how novice Singaporean teachers indicate their professional and personal identities through language in an online Community of Practice (CoP). The six research participants were asked to post daily about their professional experiences of teaching using a social networking site and these were analyzed by Alsagoff’s (2010) Cultural Orientation Model which posits that standard and vernacular English use should not be considered as exclusive categories. The findings reveal that novice teachers shift their deployment of linguistic resources alongside a global and local orientation, expressing a multitude of identities. They index themselves as ‘friends’, a semi-professional identity that assumes supporting and encouraging their peers; as ‘beginning teachers’, recognizing the need for development, while at the same time expressing their confidence. Other identities expressed through language are ‘expert’ offering advice to their peers, and ‘insiders’, who converse in a jargon specific to their field. The data also highlights how growing professional confidence, personal emotions, and negotiations of status within a community contribute to the formation of teacher identities.
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