Kohei Kaji

MA Education TEFL dissertation prize winner 2014

Kohei KajiProfessional development of experienced non-native English-speaking teachers during an MA TEFL course in the UK

‘It was a nice surprise to me when I was informed that I got the TEFL Dissertation Prize. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank my participants, my supervisor, and all the instructors who supported me all the way through this particular year. Furthermore, the learning experience in the MA TEFL course was far more than I had expected, which gave me enough confidence to develop my teaching career. I am back to teaching now and really enjoying every single moment with my students!’


This study reports on a qualitative case study that explored how a MA TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in the UK professionally developed its students (experienced nonnative English-speaking teachers) to teach in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts, and how their identity development, through conceptual changes, occurred during the course, grounded in the notion of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (SCT) along with relevant literature. The participants included 6 postgraduate students with years of teaching experience from EFL countries. Student interviews, diaries and course-related reflective writings were collected to provide an analysis of the coursework and their transitional identity. Six case studies illustrate that the students faced major challenges in demystifying the notion of native speaker superiority, and developing the notion of ownership of English language, which was necessary for them to become more confident and be recognized as legitimate teachers. Most of the students also attempted to generate images of ideal language teacher selves by using their experience of these major challenges, which were influenced by the coursework. Pedagogical implications and future research are also discussed.