English Language is a fast growing and popular subject at A level but the majority of qualified secondary teachers in the UK have subject expertise and backgrounds in literature. This paper reports on interviews with seven secondary English teachers who discuss the strategies they used when taking on the responsibility of A level English Language teaching for the first time. It highlights the shifting sense of identity that these teachers felt they went through, and as such, explores some emerging issues related to identity from a narrative/personal history perspective. The study reveals that despite feelings of anxiety and low self-confidence, teachers felt that the experience had been a positive one in terms of their own developing identity as an English teacher and had impacted on other aspects of their teaching. The paper raises questions about the value of language-based work for English teachers and has implications for UK initial and continuing teacher education in English.