Betwixt and between
Language and IETs repositioning in British Columbia
The success of Canada’s immigration policy is intrinsically tied to employment of an immigrant workforce. Teaching is the fourth largest profession among Canadian immigrants, yet immigrants whose occupations are in education are three times less likely to be employed in their matching profession. Failure to incorporate an immigrant workforce not only affects economic success, but has repercussions for immigrant professional identity. This paper reflects on the development of professional identity for twelve internationally educated immigrant teachers (IETs) seeking to reposition themselves as teachers in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. Through qualitative interviews and Life Positioning Analysis (Martin, 2013), this research explored the role of significant others in facilitating or impeding IETs’ inclusion into the teaching force and subsequent effects on professional identity development. Language and linguistic abilities emerged as a pervasive theme. Participants found acceptance and validation of their language and cultural differences through the perspectives of the students with whom they came into contact. In contrast, the professional teaching community’s perspectives in regard to accents and language proficiency caused IETs to question their competence and negatively impacted their professional identities. Implications for practice with respect to supporting IETs repositioning are offered.
Keywords: Life Positioning Analysis (LPA), Internationally Educated Teachers (IETs), Professional Identity
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