University Instructors’ Enactment of Professional Agency in Teaching Spoken English as a Foreign Language

Lan Wang*, Ricky C K Lam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Although previous studies on teacher agency have examined its manifestations
and significance from the socio-cultural perspective, university English as a foreign language (EFL)-speaking instructors’ professional agency has been underrepresented in the Chinese context. Based on a narrative inquiry approach and cross-case analysis, this qualitative multiple case study explores how four university EFL-speaking instructors exercise their professional agency and the key factors facilitating their agency enactment. The study finds that EFL-speaking instructors work as agentic practitioners to translate their career pursuits into concrete teaching duties, teacher learning, and researching. Their different professional agency enactment is closely related to their agency competence, agency disposition, and identity commitment as well as
multifarious contextual factors. The findings imply that understanding the trajectories of teachers’ career development and fostering their teacher agency can assist more practitioners in getting ready for future challenges. It is suggested that frontline teachers hold onto the notion of life-long learning, build academic research profiles, and conduct active reflections to enhance their agency. University administrators should consider creating a more conducive environment to boost EFL-speaking instructors’ agency to facilitate their professional development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number909048
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Education
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • EFL-speaking instructors
  • agency competence
  • agency disposition
  • identity commitment
  • professional agency


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