English Teaching & Learning

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 189–212 | Cite as

Understanding Teacher Autonomy, Teacher Agency, and Teacher Identity: Voices from Four EFL Student Teachers

  • (Mark) Feng TengEmail author


Scarce studies have been conducted to understand teacher autonomy, teacher agency, and teacher identity exhibited by English as a foreign language (EFL) student teachers. This study was conducted to fill this gap by exploring how four student teachers take control of their teaching, conduct agentic behavior, and negotiate identities in the Chinese EFL context. Data included interviews, school documents, participants’ practicum reports, and lesson plans. Findings revealed that EFL student teachers encountered constraints related to the school curriculum, evaluation mechanisms, and social settings. Constraints affected their capacity to negotiate the gap between reality and ideals and fostered changes and innovations in teaching. These forces, influenced by the social, institutional, and physical settings, also affected the formation of their identities. The different development trajectories during the teaching practicums were found to be related to teacher autonomy, teacher agency, and teacher identity. While concluding with implications for teaching pre-service teachers and running teaching practicums, the present study also argues for considering the three interrelated constructs as essential parts of researching pre-service EFL teacher education.


EFL student teachers Pre-service teachers Teacher agency Teacher autonomy Teacher development Teacher identity 





英語教師 職前教師 教師自主 教師能動 教師身份 教師發展 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author(s) state that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© National Taiwan Normal University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education StudiesHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong

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