Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jeannine M. Fontaine, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lisya Seloni, Ph.D.


This study aims to discover how Korean English language teachers navigate and negotiate their professional identities as they were immersed in the U.S. TESOL program. They would ultimately end up teaching English in Korea upon completing the U.S. TESOL program. For this purpose, this study examines the following research questions: (1) How did their experiences influence their teaching identities? (2) How do they come to reconstruct their teachers’ identities as a result of being matriculated in the U.S. Ph.D. TESOL program? And (3) how would they imagine their professional identities as Korean NNES professionals for their future teaching in Korea? In order to explore Korean NNES professionals’ identity changes, I used critical theory, as an epistemological consideration and narrative inquiry, as a methodological tool. I integrated the qualitative methods for the substantial investigation of different aspects of language ideologies through multiple sources: (1) casual conversation, (2) autobiographical accounts, (3) virtual discussions through blog entries, (4) in-depth interviews, and (5) E-interviews. I used a hermeneutic process to analyze data of the Korean NNES professionals’ identity constructions. From K-12 through graduate program, English was one of the gatekeepers and a form of capital for the participants in Korean society. The implementation of English-only classes led the participants, as NNES professionals, to be marginalized from English language education in Korea due to their lack of proficiency in English. The participants ended up enrolling in a U.S. TESOL program to gain U.S. degrees, to increase their oral proficiency of English, and to understand the theoretical background of TESOL. As the participants engaged in community of practice, they became members in an academic community, transformed their perceptions of English and of their teaching, and had constructed their hybrid teacher identities. The findings provide insights into experiences that would affect NNES professionals’ identity construction, paying attention to processes of ideological influences upon their beliefs and attitudes toward English language education in Korea and in the U.S. This study has implications for restructuring curricula in TESOL programs because its findings inform educators about NNES teacher candidates’ experiences and perspectives on English language education.