Iranian EFL Teachers’ Cultural Identity in the Course of their Profession

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of English language and Literature, Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan, Iran

2 Department of English Language and Literature, Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan, Iran

Abstract

Grounded on Hofstede's (1986) dichotomous model of collectivism/individualism, this study explored Iranian English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers' cultural identity. A sequential mixed methods procedure was adopted to examine their cultural orientation and the impact of length of experience on their degree of propensity to absorb the target language culture. A total of 120 female and male teachers of private English institutes with varying years of teaching record contributed to this research. Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions model was developed into a Likert-scale questionnaire, along with a number of complementary demographic questions. To gain a deeper understanding of the teachers' standpoints, six of the teachers were randomly selected to participate, and elaborate on their responses, in a semi-structured interview. The analysis of the findings revealed that Iranian EFL teachers were primarily identified as being individualist, irrespective of the span of their professional experience. The finding tends to contradict Hofstede's survey where Iranians had been identified as collectivists as a whole. Even though career length did not statistically disclose their degree of cultural affiliation, teachers' responses at the interview revealed some underlying trends accounting for their identity shifts. It seems to be the case that exposure to and contact with the English language covertly transformed non-native teachers' cultural identity over time. By extension, it may well be that foreign language teachers apart from their indigenous cultural persuasions, seem to grow into the target culture they are exposed to, without even being physically present in the target community environment.

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