1st Edition

Understanding the Professional Agency of Female Language Teachers in a Chinese University Rhetoric and Reality

By Xiaolei Ruan Copyright 2022
    254 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    254 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Centering on a qualitative study of three female English teachers in Shanghai, China, the book explores female language teachers' perceived discrepancies and agency exercised in their teaching, research and teacher learning practices.

    By adopting multiple research methods, such as narrative questionnaire, metaphor, timeline, interview and classroom observation, this study reveals that female language teachers’ agency is a dynamic entity manifested in the ongoing negotiation of agency belief, agency practice, and agency inclination, as well as the interaction of individual and the environment. Though there are certain limitations concerning representativeness and generalizability, the author provides a thick description of how female language teachers in China are exercising agency to fulfill their career development, which offers insightful suggestions to language education in both China and broader areas globally.

    The book will appeal to researchers studying teacher education and foreign (English) language teaching, university teachers, especially female foreign language teachers, PhD students and graduate students, as well as career women.

    1: Introduction  2: Literature Review  3: Research Methodology  4: The Spinning Top: Zoey’s Aspirations to Reach New Heights in Career  5: The Rainbow: Wendy’s Delicate Emotions to Mediate between her Professional Beliefs and Practices  6: The Sunshine: Linda’s Unremitting Efforts to Boost her Professional Achievement  7: Discussion  8: Conclusion


    Xiaolei Ruan is an associate professor at the School of Foreign Studies, Anhui University (China). Her PhD study explored female EFL teachers’ beliefs and practices in the enactment of professional agency to actualize their career development. Her current research interests are in the areas of foreign language teacher agency, foreign language teachers’ development, and their academic writing practice, especially in the context of teacher learning communities. Her recent publications appear in various peer-reviewed journals domestically and overseas, such as Teaching and Teacher Education and Learning, Culture and social Interaction.

    "This book caught my attention when I, as a member of the female EFL teaching workforce, recently embarked on a new journey in career development – pursuing a doctoral degree while teaching. This intellectually intimidating yet rewarding experience has ignited my interest in exploring teacher agency. The book detailed how my peers mobilise agency to assess situations, propose solutions, and implement actions in pursuit of good teaching practice and research engagement, particularly under pressures of identity tension and work-life balance. Therefore, it provided practical inspiration for me and, potentially, for other doctoral- level teacher-researchers and student-researchers who are venturing into the academic world." - Yueyue Huang, School of Foreign Languages, Guangzhou Xinhua University