Vol. 24 No. 1 (2022): January-June


Research Articles

English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings

Construcciones de identidades de género de profesores de inglés en sus acciones, discursos y relaciones


  • Angela Milena Rodriguez University teacher


Key words: Gender identities, pedagogical practices, practice architectures: doings, sayings, relatings, FPDA. (en).


Palabras clave: identidades de género, practicas pedagógicas, arquitecturas de práctica docente: acciones, discursos, relaciones, AFPD. (es).

Author Biography

Angela Milena Rodriguez, University teacher



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How to Cite


Rodriguez, A. M. (2022). English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings . Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 24(1), 105–118.


Rodriguez, A.M. 2022. English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings . Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal. 24, 1 (Apr. 2022), 105–118. DOI:


Rodriguez, A. M. English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings . Colomb. appl. linguist. j 2022, 24, 105-118.


RODRIGUEZ, A. M. English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings . Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, [S. l.], v. 24, n. 1, p. 105–118, 2022. DOI: 10.14483/22487085.17903. Disponível em: Acesso em: 28 jun. 2022.


Rodriguez, Angela Milena. 2022. “English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings ”. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal 24 (1):105-18.


Rodriguez, A. M. (2022) “English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings ”, Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 24(1), pp. 105–118. doi: 10.14483/22487085.17903.


A. M. Rodriguez, “English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings ”, Colomb. appl. linguist. j, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 105–118, Apr. 2022.


Rodriguez, A. M. “English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings ”. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, Apr. 2022, pp. 105-18, doi:10.14483/22487085.17903.


Rodriguez, Angela Milena. “English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings ”. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal 24, no. 1 (April 22, 2022): 105–118. Accessed June 28, 2022.


Rodriguez AM. English Teachers Gendered Identities Constructions in their Doings, Sayings and Relatings . Colomb. appl. linguist. j [Internet]. 2022Apr.22 [cited 2022Jun.28];24(1):105-18. Available from:

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Recibido: 21 de abril de 2021; Aceptado: 15 de septiembre de 2021


This article explores a feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis study carried out in a private University in Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia. This study intended to explore the relationship between two EFL university teachers’ pedagogical practices and their gendered identity constructions. Said practices were framed in the practice architectures of doings, sayings and relatings proposed by Kemmis at al. Some classes of the aforementioned teachers were video recorded within a period of two months. Subsequently significant moments framed by the research inquiry were identified from the transcripts of the videoed classes and fragmented in excerpts that were examined using the feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis framework. It was revealed that the practice architectures of doings, sayings, and relatings were sites for and outcomes of teachers’ gendered identity construction. Additionally, teachers’ gendered sayings, doings, and relatings were interweaved, juxtaposed, complemented, and contrasted sites where teachers performed different masculinities and femininities based on their capacities to adapt, resist, contest, and oppose to heteronormative and patriarchal discourses such as gender roles and normative masculine and feminine features. Those gendered constructions were identified as having possible consequences upon students’ English language leaning and gendered identity construction.


femininities, feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis, gender identities, femininities, masculinities, pedagogical practices, teaching practice architectures, doings, sayings, relatings.


Este artículo explora un estudio de análisis feminista y posestructuralista del discurso realizado en una universidad privada de Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia. Este estudio pretendió explorar la relación entre las practicas pedagógicas de dos docentes universitarios y la construcción de sus identidades de género. Dichas prácticas fueron enmarcadas dentro de las arquitecturas de práctica docente: acciones, discursos y relaciones propuestas por Kemmis at al. Algunas clases de los profesores mencionados anteriormente fueron video grabadas por un periodo de dos meses. Posteriormente se identificaron los momentos significativos enmarcados en el tema investigativo a partir las transcripciones de las clases, y se fragmentaron en extractos que fueron examinados usando el enfoque de análisis del discurso feminista y posestructuralista. Se reveló que las acciones, discursos y relaciones de los docentes fueron el origen y el resultado de la construcción de sus identidades de género. Igualmente, los discursos, acciones y relaciones generizados de los docentes fueron sitios complementarios, entretejidos, yuxtapuestos y contrastados donde los docentes construyeron diferentes masculinidades y feminidades de acuerdo con sus habilidades para adaptarse, resistir y oponerse a los discursos patriarcales y heteronormativos que incluyen roles de género y características normativas de feminidad y masculinidad. Se identificó que las construcciones de genero de los docentes tenían posibles consecuencias en cuanto al aprendizaje de inglés por parte de los estudiantes y la construcción de sus identidades de género.

Palabras clave

análisis del discurso feminista y posestructuralista, identidades de género, feminidades, masculinidades, practicas pedagógicas, arquitecturas de práctica docente, acciones, discursos, relaciones.

Stating my research concern

Sharing an office space with colleagues allows teachers to talk about students and discuss teaching practices, activities, methodologies, among other aspects related to teaching. From these daily chats, I noticed that my colleagues related differently with students and had contrasting perceptions about them which further led to certain pedagogical decisions. To understand this situation in depth, I conducted observations in the form of raw field notes of my colleagues’ informal conversations about their classes and students, which I later analyzed with theory on teacher-student relationships based on a gender perspective.

The following paragraphs illustrate two examples of these field notes, which were vital to framing my research concern. The first field note reports a conversation that occurred when a colleague and I checked the attendance list of a class we shared.

My male colleague saw the name of a girl in a list and immediately reacted with anger. I asked him about his reaction, and he stated that the student tried to flirt with him as a persuasive act for approving the subject. He also added: “In class, that girl used to hang out with a male gay student, and they became unbearable by making certain comments that one sometimes does not know how to handle in class. I obviously know that the sexual preferences should be respected but it is difficult to manage that”. (Field note 1, August 24, 2017)

I can relate the above to Baxter (2003) who explains that “subjects can be multiply positioned in terms of their agency to adapt to, negotiate, resist or take up dominant subject positions within specific discursive contexts” (p. 31). In this vein of thought, the male teacher maintained a political position of respect towards sexual preferences, but he was placed in a position in which he did not know how to deal with his students’ inappropriate comments. Thus, his way of handling this situation was not to express his opinion on these comments with his students. Furthermore, Litosseliti (2013) states that, by making choices, we adopt different gendered selves. Therefore, the teacher seems to have taken on a gendered identity by commenting that a girl tried to flirt with him and expressing difficulties to handle topics related with sexual orientation in class.

Another reported conversation in my field notes happened while two teachers were discussing their students’ lack of attendance and bad attitude in an English class they shared.

A female teacher expressed her frustration towards that class. She claimed: “I make my best effort, I plan games, I take videos to class, and the students are incredibly quiet. They ignore me; they do not even speak”. A male teacher replied by saying “I tell them that if they come to class as an ornament, it is better that they don’t come. I grade those students who do something, not the ones who just occupy a chair.” He also referred to a male student like this: “There is also a boy, Pesca. He pretends to know everything. He is arrogant. He is not passing the subject with me. I want to see his arrogance lowered”. On the contrary, the female teacher highlighted Pesca as the student who saves her class when nobody participates. After that, they agreed on a topic to carry out in the next classes and finished the conversation. (Field note 2, September 5, 2017)

These two teachers had different feelings and perceptions about their lessons´ outcomes and students, and they made decisions based on them.

On the one hand, the male teacher seemed to be stricter and more discipline-oriented. On the other hand, the female teacher expressed her frustration towards the situation and expected to be advised on improving her students’ attitude toward her classes. Litosseliti (2013) explains that the construction of gender occurs within relationships and the extent to which people identify themselves with others. Therefore, these teachers might have constructed gendered identities as their perceptions and level of identification with students, and specifically in the case of Pesca, it led them to make some pedagogical decisions. Additionally, teachers could have enacted another gender construction through identifying with a discourse related to complaining about students despite their individual differences.

Hence, I considered that the relationship between the teachers’ pedagogical practices and the construction of their gendered identities is an area that needs to be further researched. Additionally, I conducted a literature review of literature at the international and national levels, and I discovered that, although gender in English language teaching and learning has been addressed ( Baxter, 2002. Benavides-Buitrago, 2017. Castañeda-Peña, 2008, 2012. Durán, 2006. Hruska, 2004. Rojas, 2012 ;

Rondón, 2012. Mojica and Castañeda-Peña, 2017. Sunderland, 2000 ), teachers’ pedagogical practices and their gendered identities is an area that is yet to be addressed. Hence, the following question guided my research.

How do EFL university teachers’ pedagogical practices relate to their gendered identity construction?

Pedagogical practices framed into sayings, doings, and relatings

I conceptualized pedagogical practices from the perspective of feminist poststructuralist theory ( Weedon, 1987 ), which relies on the subjective construction of the human being through language and meanings assigned to words. Thus, human beings are constructed through discursive practices within specific contexts. Humans also assign meanings to the world in order to understand, adapt, oppose, or resist their own reality.

Hence, teaching under the feminist poststructuralist theory should be a relational process, not a mechanical one. It goes beyond designing lesson plans and implementing teaching methods ( Castañeda-Peña at al ., 2016 ). Thereby, Kemmis at al . (2014) conceived pedagogical practices to be as socially established as any other human activity, and as complex and unfixed spaces where individuals might adopt different positions according to the dynamic nature of settings, discourses, and situations. In other words, practices are intersubjective spaces in which we shape and are shaped by discourses, actions, and interactions.

For Kemmis at al . (2014) , practices are framed into the architectures of sayings, doings, and relatings, which take place withing culturaldiscursive, material-economic, and sociopolitical arrangements.

As shown in the Figure above, cultural-discursive, material-economic, and sociopolitical arrangements are preexisting conditions for practices within semantic, physical, and social spaces. Therefore, sayings involve the discourses, topics, issues, or problems addressed in practice. Doings are related to the way the classroom is set up, the materials or resources used, and the activities implemented. Finally, relatings correspond to power positionings and arrangements during the interactions between teachers and students. The way a practice takes place is determined by the conditions given within a particular time, space, and discourses. It also comes into being through individual and collective participation. The participants could leave memories, interactional capacities, material, and social spaces that could come into existence in other practices.

Doings, sayings, and realtings are a product of the pluralism, instability, and variation of teachers’ discourses, interactions, and actions. Kemmis at al . (2014) invite us not to consider just teaching practices, but also the relationship these practice architectures could have with other practices as webs of human social activity. Hence, sayings, doings, and relatings might interweave, occurring at the same time and influencing other practices such as students’ learning, educational research, or educational administration.

Figure 1. The media and spaces in which sayings, doings, and relatings exist

Figure 1: Figure 1. The media and spaces in which sayings, doings, and relatings exist

Source: Kemmis at al. (2014, p. 34)

Construction of gendered identities

It is important to highlight that gender is not equated with sex. Hence, according to Butler (1999) , the sexed body serves only as an instrument to assign cultural meanings to the world. However, we cannot consider sex only as a category that classifies males and females according to their genitalia and bodily functions. Therefore, gender should not be seen merely as a social construction shaped by context and interactions. Gender and sex are “systems assembled from bodily, cultural, and intersubjective subsystems” ( Fausto-Sterling, 2019, p. 11). This means that gender structures might change biological functions, and biological structures affect gender identity.

Regarding the above, being male or female does not entirely define our gender identity because it is socially constructed and developed according to time, context, interactions, or circumstances. Thus, we construct gender every day by “making use of discrete, well-defined bundles of behavior that can simply be plugged into interactional situations to produce recognizable enactments of masculinity and femininity” ( West and Zimmerman, 1987, p. 135 ). In other words, our gender identities are shaped as we adapt, contest, negotiate, or oppose normative, hegemonic behaviors.

We cannot put ourselves into normative boxes and behave according to what is supposed to be feminine or masculine. Depending on their situations and interactions, women and men could enact or construct varying personal femininities and masculinities. This implies that “as humans we construct our identities in various ways, some of which are related to ideal typical forms of masculinity and femininity, and some of which are not” ( Paechter, 2006, p. 262). Therefore, any person, woman, or man, can enact masculinities and femininities, as they are diverse and varied gender identity constructions. Additionally, talking about femininities and masculinities in plural implies that there are many forms of masculinity, and many forms of femininity that entail individual performances, power positionings, and levels of identification with others.

Paechter (2007) suggests considering communities of femininities and masculinities by understanding these gendered constructions from a local perspective since what is considered as masculine or feminine could vary from one culture to another. Thus, for the data analysis section in this paper, I will refer to masculinity and femininity constructions as to how teachers adapt, oppose, and challenge normative or hegemonic features of what should be feminine or masculine. For instance, I will argue that a male teacher is constructing femininity because his language style is normatively considered feminine. Additionally, I will explain a female teacher’s masculinity construction as she engages in a playful discourse with male students.

For this research concern, the preexisting semantic, physical, and social spaces where sayings, doings, and relatings take place are places where teachers can enact various masculinities and femininities while constructing their gendered identities.

Feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis (FPDA)

In theoretical terms, the FPDA approach is based upon the third wave of feminism, which detaches from men and women dualisms and recognizes that there is also diversity among women. Hence, third-wave feminism conceives gendered identities as plural and conflicting variables constructed within institutional and contextual constraints ( Mills, 2013 ). Additionally, Baxter (2003) claims that, from a poststructuralist perspective, discourses determine power relations, and meanings are negotiated according to the speakers’ positions. This means that a person could be in a privileged position in one discursive situation but unprivileged in the other. We shift positions as there is dynamism in our discourses, interactions, and relations.

FPDA framework has been implemented by some Colombian scholars. Castañeda-Peña (2008) , one of the pioneers in this field, used this framework to analyze power struggles during classroom races identifying teacher and peer approval discourses which had an impact on language learner identity and the construction of assertive masculinities and femininities. He also found that girls dealt more with conflict resolution and that boys seemed to be marginalized in this area. In a later study conducted at an all-girl preschool classroom, Castañeda-Peña (2010) analyzed a ‘talk cycle’ class segment under FPDA parameters, which led to a deep discussion regarding EFL classes being sites for girls to construct, foster, and dimmish femininities through an interplay of competitive discourses.

Rojas (2012) implemented the FPDA methodology to identify the telling cases in which female students exercised power by being involved in activities such as debates and disputes. The findings of this research highlighted the multiplicity of gender identities that students can construct in EFL classes. Finally, Rondón (2012) used FPDA to identify lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and, queer (LGBTQ) EFL students’ discourses to negotiate, resist, or adapt to heteronormativity. Apart from unveiling a constant shift of power positions among students, findings revealed that EFL teachers performed heteronormative discourses leading to marginalization and patriarchy.

The context and participants

This study was carried out at a private university in Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia. This institution has around 5.300 students and offers 23 undergraduate and 10 postgraduate academic programs. These programs are distributed in departments, and the language area belongs to the department of human sciences.

The language area offers four English courses for all academic programs. Each course has a theoretical and a practical component. Hence, there is a teacher who orients grammar and vocabulary acquisition (theoretical component), and there is another one in charge of implementing strategies for students to improve their listening, reading, writing, and speaking abilities (practical component).

From the eighteen teachers who belonged to the languages department, I initially contacted five teachers to be part of my study. Afterwards, I used convenience sampling ( Creswell, 2007 ) to select the participants from whom I could easily collect data, as they were available because of their class schedules and their willingness to be video-recorded during their classes. As a result, I had a male and a female teacher who agreed to participate and signed a consent form.

Additionally, these teachers agreed to be interviewed and chose their pseudonyms for the research. Hence, the female teacher is Mona, and the male teacher is Humberto. Both teachers are in their early thirties. One holds a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages and the other in Foreign Languages from a public university in Tunja, Boyacá. Additionally, these teachers work in the aforementioned private university, and they have more than three years of experience teaching at the university level.

The students captured in the video-recorded classes belonged to English levels 1 (Humberto) and 4 (Mona). These students were enrolled in the different academic programs offered by the university. Their ages ranged from 16 to 25 years old. Some of them were interviewed to include a variety of voices and to give a voice to the silenced and silent in the analysis. These students were also named under pseudonyms and signed consent forms to be video-recorded and interviewed.

Data collection, management, and analysis

To collect data, I carried out a piloting stage in which I video-recorded one class per teacher. This piloting stage allowed me to foresee any technical mishap. Additionally, it helped my participant teachers and the students to get familiar with the recording process. Afterwards, two paid people and I recorded four classes per teacher. Then, I selected the video clips that represented the starting and ending points of a set of teacherstudent and student-teacher interactions. I thoroughly observed the video clips and named them capturing the content of the interactions that took place.

Lastly, I followed Baxter’s (2003) advice of identifying the significant moments pertaining the research focus. Thus, from the video clips, I selected the excerpts in which teachers’ interactions with students seemed to represent power struggles, different subject positionings, divergence of opinions, and conflicting relationships.

Following a feminist poststructuralist framework to analyze the significant moments selected implied considering my interpretations, a literature review, and the voices of the teachers and students as supplementary or interconnected. Concerning

Baxter’s (2003) principle of finding a feminist focus, I oriented my analysis in identifying the sayings, doings, and relatings in which the two teachers constructed their masculinities and femininities.

The considerations above led me adopt the principle of self-reflexivity, also proposed by Baxter (2003) , who claimed that “researchers need to draw attention to the choices they make in determining exactly how they are going to analyze texts, and then be prepared to justify or explain the effects of those choices” (p. 61). Hence, I considered my position as a researcher to make the choices I considered pertinent during the analysis, acknowledging and being responsible for the subjectivity that those decisions might entail. For instance, I focused the analysis on privileging some turn constructional units over others that were more telling regarding the teachers’ gendered identity construction. Additionally, I included teachers and students’ voices in certain parts of my analysis which I considered that needed to be supplemented, contested, or juxtaposed with other voices.

In practical terms, FPDA implies carrying out the analysis on two levels: denotative and connotative. The denotative level “aims to give a concrete description of what is going on within a text, […], by making close and detailed reference to the verbal and non-verbal interactions of the participants” ( Baxter, 2003, p. 75). Thus, I made use of conversation analysis to understand how talk was organized within the selected excerpts ( Heritage, 2005 ).

The connotative level of analysis is an emergent feature of the interactional patterns found through conversation analysis. Thus, the purpose of connotative analysis is to provide an interpretive commentary, which, in this case, was focused on exploring the teachers’ gendered identity construction within their sayings, doings, and relatings. Therefore, this level of analysis required the consideration of Bakhtin’s (1981) principles of polyphony and heteroglossia.

For Baxter (2003) , implementing the principle of polyphony implies providing space for different sources of data that might juxtapose, contradict, or co-exist. I followed this principle, firstly, by identifying and analyzing the ways in which the teachers could probably construct their gendered identities within their doings, sayings, and relatings. Secondly, I included theory and literature that provided a supplementary or contesting view to my interpretations. Thirdly, I interviewed teachers and students regarding some parts of the excerpts that needed to be confirmed or contested.

Bearing in mind that heteroglossia seeks to locate patterns of subordination and marginalization, I also used my interpretations, the literature, and open interviews to identify and to include voices who might have been silent or silenced by male or female counterparts ( Baxter, 2003 ). In total, I analyzed 20 excerpts from both teachers’ classes. Thus, to provide an overview of how the analysis was conducted, the following paragraphs illustrate two excerpts taken from the original study.

Two samples of FDPA analysis

Sample one: Teacher Mona adapting to boys’ double entendre discourse [1] (turns 110 to 124)

This excerpt was taken from a class where English level 4 students were playing a group game in two rounds. In the first round, the groups had to make the other groups say “yes, I can”, and, in the second round, the groups had to make their counterparts say “no, I can’t”. They were awarded a point on the blackboard if their counterparts answered what they originally had to make them say.

110. T→SS Eh, ahora qué vamos a hacer.

#Eh, now what we are going to do#

111. Vamos a cambiar la dinámica del grupo.

#We are going to change the group dynamic#

112 se van a enfrentar entre grupos, ¿ok?

#You are going to compete among groups? ok? #

113 tienen que hacerle al otro grupo decir #You must make the other say#

114. “Yes, I can” y el otro #and the other# “No, I can’t”, ¿ok? ¿Listo? #all right#

115. Pero, ya usen otros, LOS QUIERO MÁS


#But use other expressions I want


116. Vamos a pensar en cinco preguntas

#Let´s think of five questions#

117. N→T ushh

118. T→SS ¡No! Más atrevidos en el sentido bueno, more

Daring in the good sense#

119. I→N ¡Cochino! #naughty#

120. T→N ¿y por qué cochino? #And why naughty? #

121. SS (laughs)

122. T→SS en el sentido más académico posible #in the most Academic sense as possible#

123. SS→T ah, bu:::enoo #ah ok (they say it at the same time)

124. T→SS Listo, vayan pensando. Creen, por lo menos, Cinco cosas que puedan hacer #All right. Start thinking. Let’s create at least five things that you can do#

Denotative analysis

In turn 110, Mona explains the dynamics of the activity. In turn 115, she encourages students to be more creative by using different questions. She also suggests that students be more daring, which causes Nicolás, a student, to utter the back channel “ushh”. The teacher understands Nicolás’ intention and, in turn 118, she clarifies that ‘daring’ is used in an academic sense. Mona’s turn constructional unit of clarification guides Iván to treat his classmate Nicolás as a ‘naughty’ man. In turn 120, Mona requests that Iván justify the reasons why he treated Nicolás as a naughty person. This request causes laughter in the students. Therefore, in turn 122, Mona repeats that the activity should be done under academic terms. The students receive the message and respond affirmatively to the teacher’s statement. In turn 124, Mona returns to the pedagogical agenda by asking students to start doing the activity.

Connotative analysis

By implementing the dynamics of the activity (doings), the teacher’s sayings start interweaving when she says “I want you to be more daring” (turn 115). A male student’s comment, “ushh” (turn 117), is the first interpretation of the teacher’s utterance. That “ushh” might have to a twofold interpretation. Firstly, the student might consider that what the teacher said is not appropriate for the academic context they are in. Secondly, the student could be amazed by the teacher’s resistance towards fitting in the social expectations, wherein, according to Johansen (2017) , women are expected to display good manners through the avoidance of improper and double entendre language.

Relatings appear in sayings in two moments. Firstly, the teacher clarifies that ‘more daring’ should be taken in the good sense (turn 118). At the same time, Mona rejects that ‘ushhh’ comment.

Secondly, another student treats his classmate as ‘cochino’ (naughty), maintaining the double entendre discourse (turn 119). Instead of correcting this student’s behavior, Mona proceeds to ask this student the reasons to call his classmate naughty. Finally, she highlights again the academic connotation of her comments. I asked Mona about her positioning towards sexist comments in class.

When students say something like ‘naughty’ and things like that, I like to challenge them, because not everything needs to have a double meaning. Sometimes I like to create humorous environments with those comments to generate a more comfortable atmosphere in class. I like them to see me in their same level. They might be alarmed because it is the teacher who is promoting that. A girl never comes up with something like that. Male students are more likely to make those comments; they get less shocked than female students and are more open to that.” (Mona, personal communication, 2018)

Mona’s response might be seen as she was ‘othering the girls’ ( Coates, 2013a ) due to her conception that female students avoid and reject those comments. This phenomenon of adjusting to male comments whether appropriate or not was confirmed by French and French (1984) , who also asserted that boys use their abilities to grab the teacher’s attention without caring about the suitability of their contributions.

Additionally, the teacher’s allowance of nonacademic comments from boys agrees with Sunderland’s (1998) study, wherein boys’ nonacademic comments were more likely to be approved by the teacher. Thereby, the teacher’s position of adapting and trying to fit in male discourse opposes Kelly’s (1998) findings regarding teachers providing attention to males as a way of controlling their disruptive behaviors and discipline.

By analyzing this excerpt and making women’s voices visible, I questioned some female students about their opinions regarding the sexist comments made by the male classmates and the teacher in class.

“Those comments are uncomfortable” (Vivian, personal communication, 2018) “It’s not comfortable” (Daniela, personal communication, 2018)

“Yes, in that sense, boys feel freer, because let’s say, as women we do not find that easy and not even for me, I don’t feel comfortable. In a class, certain level of respect is needed, and it is not appropriate to make these comments”. (Mary, personal communication, 2018)

Female students do not feel comfortable when hearing double entendre comments in class, and they do not seem willing to make a comment of this kind. They consider this a lack of respect. Thus, by stating their position of not wanting to utter sexist comments in class, female students are resisting to this masculine practice, which is performed by two male students and Mona. Hence, women do not fulfill Mona’s approval discourse, as they do not make debatable contributions and are not willing to accept and make double entendre comments in class. Consequently, women are inhibited in terms of their opportunities, not just to practice the English language, but to be an active part of class discussions as well.

Sample 2: Humberto uses humor to construct a self-assured masculinity (turns 61 to 73)

This is part of a lesson about ordinal numbers. Humberto read the information from the projected slides and provided examples for illustrating the uses of ordinal numbers.

61. T→SS ok (.) you can use (.) uses of the ordinal numbers.

62. For places para lugares (repeats in Spanish) primer

63. Lugar, Segundo lugar, tercer lugar #first place, second place, third place# time

64. o sea, las veces que se hace una

65. acción, por primera vez, Felipe está

66. viendo esta clase por segunda vez y así #I mean the number of times you do an action for the first time, Felipe is attending to this class for the second time and so on #

67. SS (laugh)

68. F→T (laughs) ay no, profesor. se pasa.

#ay no, teacher. you exaggerate#

69. T→F no↑ (laughs)

70. T→SS So (.) floor when you live in a

71. building (.) entonces

72. En los pisos de un edificio (0.2) #so on the floors

73. Of a building# on the first floor, on

74. The second floor (.) ok?

Denotative analysis

The interaction starts with Humberto’s taking time. Thus, from turns 61 to 66, he highlights the uses of ordinal numbers. In turn 62, he mentions that ordinal numbers are used for indicating order of places. In 63, he provides the examples: “first place, second place, third place”. In turns 64 and 65, the teacher clarifies that he is referring to the number of times an action is done and utters an example mentioning a male student in the class (turn 66). Subsequently, all the students laugh in turn 67, and, in turn 68, Felipe replies to Humberto, contesting what he previously said. Humberto answers with a rising intonated “no” and laughs (turn 69). Finally, in turn 70, the teacher continues with the explanation agenda and mentions that ordinal numbers are also used for naming the floors of a building.

Connotative analysis

Humberto introduces his lesson using hedges (sayings) that are normatively attributed to women (Coates, 2013b). Firstly, he reformulates the utterance “you can use” (turn 61) and utters “uses of ordinal numbers”, (turn 61), thus searching for the right way to convey meaning. Although Humberto tries to make himself clearer by using reformulation, he expresses doubt or little confidence in his discourse.

Secondly, after mentioning that ordinal numbers are used to indicate places and giving some examples (turns 62 and 63) Humberto utters “o sea” [I mean]. The use of this hedge implies not just little confidence on Humberto’s explanation and examples, but it also indicates that another statement is needed to convey his message clearly.

Hence, Humberto’s doings take place by mentioning the situation of one of his students as an example. The teacher claims: “Felipe is attending this class for the second time and so on” (turns 65 and 66). The first outcome of this statement is students’ laughter at Felipe’s situation (turn 67), which implies that Humberto could have used that comment as a joke. Francis and Skelton (2001) state that these kind of humorous situations are normatively initiated by men to consolidate heterosexual masculinity. Crawford (2003) and Coates (2013a) corroborate this assertion and mention that men use a hostile, formulaic, and competitive humor to express dominance over unprivileged groups of people. Thus, I could assert that Humberto’s humorous discourse is framed in masculinity, engaging in a competitive environment, and overcoming his powerless position when using hedges.

An outcome of this gendered construction in Humberto’s doings and sayings derives in Felipe’s response, in which he maintains a somewhat playful discourse started by Humberto and taken for granted by his classmates. He goes outside of the paradigms of good behavior and contests what the teacher said, which somehow invades Humberto’s personal space. I asked Felipe about his perceptions and feelings upon this comment, and he stated the following:

Well, yes. I am attending the class for the second time. I did not get annoyed, but I said something like “ay, teacher”. I was embarrassed. But, to tell you the truth, the teacher is the authority, and I could do nothing because that was true. (Felipe, personal communication, 2018)

Although Felipe denies his annoyance with Humberto’s comments, he manifests that he feels embarrassed, which places him in a powerless position regarding his teacher and classmates. An aspect of his private life was revealed, and he accepts his incapability to do anything because of Humberto’s authority.

To Felipe’s claim, “ay, teacher, you exaggerate” (turn 68), Humberto answers with a clear and emphatic “no” (turn 69). Thereby, I asked Humberto about his reasons for bringing up Felipe’s case in class and for answering negatively to Felipe’s refusal.

I always try to bring examples from the class. So, in that case, unfortunately, the student was taking the course for the second time, and we were studying ordinal numbers. So, I was like “Felipe is taking the class for the second time”, and, in that moment, that student was like “no teacher”, as if I were bullying him, but I think it was not my intention. I like to relate with students in a funny way. I answered no. That is the truth. I mean, you fail the subject, and you are taking it for the second time, so that is the clearest example that I had. (Humberto, personal communication, 2018)

Humberto recognizes that, when Felipe said “ay, teacher, you exaggerate” (turn 68), this student was probably feeling questioned. However, he maintains his position of power and does not recognize or seems worried about revealing a private and embarrassing issue of one of his male students in front of the class. Humberto supports this by stating that what he said was the best example for addressing the topic and bringing up familiar aspects to class. Additionally, he considers mentioning Felipe’s example as useful to create a joking environment in class.

Thereby, his ‘no’ answer indicates that he is not exaggerating or harming anybody and decides to continue the lesson (turns 70 to 73). Humberto’s denial of the possibility to hurt students’ feelings might refer to the masculine feature of emotional detachment (Appleby, 2014; Bird, 2009; Bowen, 2006). This is corroborated in a part of an interview I did with him:

Because of the society we live in, one tends to think that a man has to be strong and rude. A woman tends to be more delicate. (Humberto, personal communication, 2018)

Hence, Humberto’s masculinity construction around expressing emotional detachment leads him to perform unequal gender relatings, sayings, and doings, as he is treating this male student based on his expectations about how a man should be or behave.

Therefore, Humberto is aware of his hegemonic practices, in which he is also othering girls because, according to what he answered, he would not use these examples with women, as he considers them to be more delicate. Moreover, the fact that teacher uses humorous language with a male student portrays a male dominant power which was not contested by female students.

Realizing that those women were othered and somehow marginalized in the playful discourse held by Humberto with Felipe implied following the principle of heteroglossia. Thus, I should have interviewed female students to make their voices visible regarding male dominant humorous discourses. However, the emphasized femininity I enacted as a researcher analyzing this excerpt led me to take for granted the marginalization of female students, as I am also used to be othered when men engage in humorous and formulaic discourses. Hence, I was not able to identify this situation in that moment, and I acknowledge this as a possible limitation of my study.


Answering the research concern pertaining the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical practices and their gender identity constructions implies addressing two aspects: firstly, an overview regarding the most common doings, sayings, and relatings that Mona and Humberto performed. Secondly, an exploration of the ways in which teachers’ doings, sayings, and relatings are related to their gendered identity construction.

Mona’s doings intended students to communicate by asking questions to make their classmates say “Yes, I can” and “No, I can’t”. Mona’s sayings interweaved when she asked the students to be ‘more daring’. This teacher’s relatings took place when she maintained a playful discourse with male students upon the latter.

Humberto’s doings were oriented towards teaching the use of ordinal numbers by employing a specific example. Humberto’s sayings entailed the example given to illustrate the use of ordinal numbers. This teacher’s relatings occurred during his interaction with Felipe, which caused a humorous environment in the class.

Mona and Humberto’s gendered identity construction was a dynamic process in which they shifted power positions within their discourses, actions, and interactions. Regarding the first excerpt, the double entendre discourse held by Mona with two male students was the point of departure for various interpretations. Firstly, Mona constructed a masculinity in her sayings when she challenged students to be more daring and then used playful discourse around the expression ‘cochino’. Additionally, Mona did not contest their disruptive behavior.

I support her masculine construction because she was detaching from the normative conception of women being expected to portray good manners and use delicate language ( Johansen, 2017 ). Hence, her masculinity was being constructed based on what femininity is not ( Sunderland, 1992 ). Mona explained this construction in her interview when she argued that she liked to be at the same level as male students, including them in her approval discourse ( Baxter, 2003 ). Unfortunately, her approval discourse marginalized girls, as they were not able to make debatable contributions.

In excerpt two, Humberto’s gendered constructions originated from his communicative styles. At first, his sayings were oriented towards the use of hedges, reformulation, and mitigated language, which are regarded as “womanly communication styles” ( Coates, 2013b, p. 34). Then, his doings and relatings changed as he mentioned an example of a male student’s personal life, making fun of him and causing a humorous environment in class. By using humor, Humberto was able to show his heterosexual and dominant masculinity. According to Bird (2009), Crawford (2003) , and Francis and Skelton (2001) , this practice is usually initiated by men to express or maintain patriarchy. The cause of Humberto’s relatings with Felipe might be in line with his gender ideology about men being emotionally detached, strong, and independent ( Haase, 2008. Robinson, 1992 ).

Thereby, I assert that the two teachers’ preconceived notions on sexist roles influenced their gendered identity constructions in their doings, sayings, and relatings, thus implying consequences in terms of students’ learning opportunities and gendered identity construction. For instance, Mona did not expect debatable contributions from women. Thus, it was evident that her practices were oriented towards giving more interactions to male students, who would make her class more interesting. Hence, it is possible that women could feel inhibited to participate and practice the language, as they were not willing to maintain a playful discourse with the teacher. Additionally, their gendered constructions might have originated from their emphasized femininity ( Schippers, 2007 ) because they normalized their unprivileged position.

Humberto did not consider Felipe’s feelings because he conceived men as strong and emotionally detached individuals. Thus, this gender ideology could lead Humberto to establish power battles with male students under the use of rude and formulaic language. This can have some impact on students’ gendered identities, as they could be placed in an unprivileged position by this teacher’s communicative styles. Also, some students might contest Humberto’s sayings by resisting to participate and practice the English language.

It is important to state that the findings of this research could have varied if more participants were included, or if the sociocultural context were different. Thus, as it was mentioned above, individuals are constructed in words and within a specific context. This means that what was unveiled in a single event could be contrasted or contested in the immediate next interaction or contextual situation.

Transformative actions

The outcomes of this study could be a point of departure to consider teachers’ gendered constructions within their practices in the EFL setting. Hence, as it was evident in these research findings, teachers gendered constructions are derived from certain pedagogical decisions, which included sexist practices and silencing students’ voices. Therefore, without noticing, teachers could lessen egalitarian practices in class. It is paramount that EFL teachers analyze and reflect upon their actions, discourses, and interactions (doings, sayings, and relatings) with students to create a more gender-equitable environment. Hence, I invite my colleagues not to consider gender as an isolated or irrelevant term that only implies a set of features assigned to men and women. It is necessary to acknowledge that we and our students construct our gender identities when speaking, interacting, making decisions, or relating with others. As soon as we understand these dynamics, we can identify unequal or unfair situations and take agency to change our practices and surroundings.


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Double entendre discourse refers to something that is understood in two ways –one could have a sexual interpretation (Cambridge Disctionary, n. d.)


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