Curriculum Discourses Within a TESOL Program for International Students: Affording Possibilities for Academic and Professional Identities


  • Roumiana Ilieva Simon Fraser University
  • Bonnie Waterstone Simon Fraser University



curriculum discourses, international education, TESOL


This article investigates the curriculum discourses circulating in a TESOL Masters Program for international students at a Canadian university. It focuses on issues around academic and professional identity constructions and language viewed through dialogical (Bakhtinian) and ecological perspectives. The article examines possibilities for agency for the students who accommodate, negotiate and resist identities, practices and program discourses inflected by broader neo-colonial and global/local tensions. The authors, two teacher educators in the program, interrogate their own practices in an attempt to denaturalize and historicize discourses available in the program and in current conditions of internationalization of higher education. The study illuminates the symbiotic relationship that develops between the discourses circulating in an educational setting and the internally persuasive discourses/identities that are available for uptake in this setting. The authors conclude that certain ideologies and discourses in the environment limit the possibilities for students to see themselves as ‘successful’ graduate students in the new for them academic context or, as they complete their degree, to imagine themselves successful within the profession. Other forces afford relations of possibility that yield positive academic and professional identity formation of these students. The curriculum of TESOL programs needs to engage head on with powerful broader discourses which impact the construction of academic and professional identities of international students in these programs in order to align TESOL programming with ethical practice.

Author Biographies

Roumiana Ilieva, Simon Fraser University

Assistant Professor Faculty of Education

Bonnie Waterstone, Simon Fraser University

Lecturer Faculty of Education