Date of Award

Fall 10-22-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Gertrude Tnker Sachs

Second Advisor

Joyce Many

Third Advisor

Joel Meyers

Fourth Advisor

Diane Belcher


In foreign language education the classification native or nonnative speaker of a language often evokes thoughts related to degrees of competence in language teaching (Braine, 2004; Davies, 2004). This comparative case study focused on Spanish teachers in a United States context. It contributes toward the literature base in research related to native and nonnative speakers of languages other than English within the local context. Using the threefold theoretical framework of role identity theory (Stryker, 1968; Stryker & Burke, 2000), teacher efficacy (Tschennen Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001) and social constructivism (Schwandt, 2007), the study aimed at developing understandings about the lived experience of foreign language teachers given the native/ nonnative speaker construct. It investigated how their personal perception of their role impacted the execution of professional duties. It also explored their conceptualization of the language teacher, given their extensive observation of teachers of various languages. The questions guiding the research were: (a) How does each participant conceptualize her role identity as Spanish teacher in a predominantly English speaking setting?, (b) How viable is the native/nonnative speaker construct when teacher efficacy is considered?, and (c) how has the experience of supervising teachers of differing linguistic backgrounds in the language they teach (native/nonnative speaker teachers) influenced the participants’ understanding of the language teacher construct in the USA? Data collection was done through interviews, focus group discussions and classroom observations. The participants were four veteran Spanish teachers who had been in the department chair position for more than ten years. Two grew up speaking the language while the others learned the language in an academic setting. Findings revealed that there was great similarity in the way teachers conceptualized their role as Spanish teacher and that they gave no credence to the native/ nonnative speaker construct as an indicator of language proficiency and competence in language teaching.


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