Autonomy in English Language Teaching: A Case Study of Novice Secondary School Teachers in Hong Kong

Jing Huang, Kenny Yau Ning Lock, Feng Teng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Following years of pre-service teacher education, novice teachers are often enthusiastic about embarking on the journey in the teaching profession. However, they may not always possess the internal capacity and institutional support to take effective control of their teaching. This paper reports on a case study of the teaching lives of two novice secondary school ESL (English as a second language) teachers in Hong Kong, drawing on qualitative data gathered through individual face-to-face interviews, and supplemented by email exchanges and telephone conversations, over a one-year period. The study investigates how novice English teachers develop their teacher autonomy, and what factors contribute to their development as autonomous English teachers. The paper concludes that novice English teachers in Hong Kong possess the capacity and are also ready for autonomy, and that an invitational, supportive and collaborative school environment plays a decisive role in affording ample opportunities for novices to develop their autonomy in language teaching. The study suggests that novice teachers should become critically aware of the affordances (opportunities, possibilities, invitations, enablements) in their working conditions, and should meanwhile exercise their teacher agency to act on these affordances to pursue their personal-professional development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalChinese Journal of Applied Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • affordances
  • novice teachers
  • professional development
  • teacher agency
  • teacher autonomy


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