Although teacher identity has become an emergent theme in the fields of both general education and language teaching, there have been few investigations into the identity of teachers of language to young learners. This paper reports on a study that explored the identity of six primary school english-language teachers in vietnam. Data for the paper were collected through life-history interviews in which the participating teachers were encouraged to use metaphors as a means to understand themselves and their work. The findings reveal that the participating teachers projected their images as teachers of english to young learners through a wide range of metaphors, which were subsequently classified into five groups: ‘artists’, ‘mothers’, ‘trial judges’, ‘intercultural promoters’ and ‘democrats’. These findings offer important insights into primary school english-language teachers’ multiple identities, the particularity of teaching language to young learners, and vietnamese teachers’ construction of identities in relation to the local context. They also offer some implications for the fields of teaching english to young learners and second language teacher education. 2016 Elsevier ltd.