Professional teacher identity in the context of literacy education and second language learning for adults

Language training for refugees in a German camp: A female German volunteer is teaching young refugees.

To acquire literacy as an adult is often a challenge, especially when the learners also are to learn a second language and has to put a lot of efforts to find their legs in a new society. In spite of that, there is little research on teachers who teach adult emergent readers in a second language setting.

My research focuses on what it means being a teacher of low educated learners in the SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) educational system, and how the teachers' professional identity is developed. Apart from teaching initial literacy and a second language, the teachers, more informally, often assist the students to establish in the Swedish community.

The focus of the research project is on how the teachers' identity is formed by the communities of practice they are a part of as professionals and how they actively negotiate it. The main theoretical perspective is situated learning (se Lave & Wenger 1991) and data is collected through interviews and observations of the teachers' work

Even if all formal language education (including initial literacy teaching) is under the umbrella of the SFI, there are many different accommodators and the teachers have a mixed background in terms of education and professional experiences. Thus, there is a mix of teachers working in different types of school and also, the sample includes Swedish for immigrant teachers and mother tongue teachers. Both groups are to teach Swedish, but the latter with the students' mother tongue as a tool.