The Beliefs and experiences of pre-service and novice English language teachers in the UK: A longitudinal study

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study focuses on the experiences of pre-service and early career teachers of English as a second or foreign language in the United Kingdom within the context of the Cambridge English pre-service teaching award known as CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching to Adults). The research is driven by the recognition of a changing world in which there is an increasing focus on the impact of globalisation on English Language Teaching (ELT) and its teachers. This research also aims to bridge gaps in the existing literature. The study of novice teachers’ experiences has an extensive history in mainstream education research, but it has received ‘patchy attention’ in ELT (Garton & Richards, 2008), and there is a dearth of longitudinal studies in particular. This leaves unanswered questions about what happens to people when they finish their initial training programmes, information that could be immensely valuable to teacher educators.

This research was conducted with 17 English language teachers over a period of between 2 and 4 years. The purpose of the study was to investigate the participants’ beliefs about the nature and status of English teaching and their experiences as novice teachers. The primary focus was on the factors that contribute to developing engagement with ELT in order to make recommendations for pre-service teacher educators.

This is a qualitative study, and the main body of data consists of semi-structured interviews and emails. The data were analysed thematically and presented in the form of four teacher case studies and a cross-sectional thematic analysis of the entire cohort. It was found that beliefs about ELT teacher expertise and ELT as a professional community, together with a lack of awareness of teacher networks, all contributed to low levels of engagement. The thesis concludes with an analysis of the CELTA syllabus in the areas of language awareness and professional development, and recommendations are made for input sessions and materials that tutors can incorporate into the CELTA course.
Date of Award1 Oct 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorNick Andon (Supervisor) & Martin Dewey (Supervisor)

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