Ya-Ting Yang

MA Education TEFL dissertation prize winner 2015

ya ting yang

How Experience of Studying Abroad Affects Taiwanese In-service EFL Teachers’ Development and Professional Identity 

'It is an inestimable personal honour to graduate from the School of Education of the University of Birmingham and to receive the TEFL dissertation prize. The process of exploring and attempting to offer a different perspective to a topic is both a daunting challenge and a rewarding exercise. I dearly appreciate the considered and supportive contributions the academic staff and fellow students provided me in the School of Education. Reflecting on my year in the department, I hope future students can also benefit from an inspiring and knowledgeable faculty that gave me the confidence and encouragement to explore important debates within the field of TEFL.'  


Studying abroad is assumed to be the most beneficial method in acquiring language proficiency for second language (L2) learners (Freed, 1998). Assuming the dual role of L2 learners and language instructors, EFL teachers may also consider pursuing higher education overseas for improving their professional expertise. However, among the limited research literature which discusses learners’ conceptual change after studying abroad (SA), a focus on in-service EFL teachers’ differences in their professionalism following a sojourn is largely neglected. To correct this oversight, the study intends to understand the influence of SA experience in continuing professional development (CPD), and specifically how it contributes to Taiwanese in-service EFL teachers’ change. The study investigates the transformation of four experienced EFL teachers who studied MA courses in the UK and Ireland for one academic year. To examine the anticipated developmental aspects of conceptual change, growth of vision, transformation of professional identity, and change of teaching practice, multiple qualitative methodologies, including reflective journal entries, in-depth interviews, and classroom observation through video recordings, were applied to collect data from each case. The results indicate positive progress in the four categories, and moreover the importance of the teachers’ prior teaching experience, the inspiration teacher reap from SA courses and the impact of cross-cultural interaction. As in-service teacher development is becoming increasingly promoted in Taiwan in recent years, this article may provide informed suggestions evidence for the national educational department, CPD designers, and EFL teachers for conducting effective CPD programs.