Metaphorical construction of self in teachers’ narratives

Judy Woon Yee HO

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to explore, by studying their personal stories, how Hong Kong secondary school teachers make sense of who and what they are in difficult situations, especially when such situations arise as a consequence of their being a part of the institution of education. Teachers’ conceptual mappings of self will be investigated via their linguistic realisations within a context of discourse. Results show that the metaphorical construction of the teacher’s self is largely paradoxical. There is co-creation of a negative self and a positive self. For the negative self, the underlying principle for the coherence of the paradoxical metaphors is the highlighting of the negative aspects of the vehicle domains to explain the ‘grounds’ for understanding the topic in terms of the vehicles. It is constructed out of teachers’ encounters with students’ discipline problems, poor inter-personal relationships in the school, inadequate managerial skills of the principal and heavy demands of the education authorities. On the other hand, the positive self is constructed through the metaphorical use of reference terms understood on specific cultural basis. It is commitment, care and a great sense of responsibility which resemble those of parents that have helped to motivate and sustain teachers when they face challenges. It is suggested that teachers should be encouraged to share their experience in coping with paradoxical roles and construct a positive self in culturally appropriate terms and live by that self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-379
Number of pages21
JournalLanguage and Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Teachers’ narratives
  • metaphor
  • reference term
  • self


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