CLIL teachers in Finland: The role of emotions in professional identity negotiation

Sotiria Pappa, Josephine Moate, Maria Ruohotie-Lyhty, Anneli Eteläpelto

Teachers’ emotions, Identity negotiation, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), Finnish primary education, Professional identity


Research on emotions has yielded many theoretical perspectives and many concepts. Yet, most scholars have focused on how emotions influence the transformation and maintenance of teacher identities in the field of teacher education and novice teachers, with little research being conducted on either experienced or foreign language teachers. This study explores emotions in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) teachers’ work and their role in identity negotiation. The data is based on interviews with thirteen CLIL teachers working at six different primary schools around Finland, while the analysis draws on Meijers’ (2002) model of identity as a learning process. According to this model, a perceived boundary experience usually generates negatively accented emotions, which are negotiated in light of one’s professional identity by means of two complementary processes, i.e. intuitive sense-giving and discursive meaning-giving. The predominant emotional experiences that were identified were, on the one hand, hurry and frustration, and on the other hand, contentment and empowerment. Intuitive sense-giving mostly entailed reasoning, self-reliance, resilience, and empathy. Discursive meaning-giving mostly entailed the ideas of autonomy and of the CLIL team. This study highlights the need for sensitivity toward teachers’ emotions and their influence on teacher identity. It concludes with suggestions for theory, further research and teacher education.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies