Reality check: Identity struggle and experiences of NESTs living and teaching abroad

Alex Leung, Timothy Yip

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the demand for Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTs) by government and private, commercially driven programs worldwide, not much is known about NESTs’ actual lived experiences. We aim to address the gap by exploring some issues faced by teachers living and teaching overseas. Analyses of interview data collected from 9 NESTs (aged 26–40) who taught in Hong Kong, Japan, Romania, Thailand, and Vietnam showed that participants’ experiences are often complex and vary dramatically depending on locations and programs. Common to all are the shock and anxiety experienced when confronted with reality abroad. Socioprofessional otherization emerged as another key theme, alongside inadequate pre-job training and outside-work support. The native identity provides employment opportunities, but at times it also creates tension and led NESTs to be seen as eternally “foreign.” We underscore the complexity of teachers’ ethnic and professional identities. We also hope to provide a reality check and highlight the importance of preservice training and in-service support to better prepare and facilitate teachers considering a career abroad.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage teacher identity in TESOL: Teacher education and practice as identity work
EditorsBedrettin Yazan, Kristen Lindahl
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429342875
ISBN (Print)9780367359560
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Language Education


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