Foreign Language Learning and Identity Reconstruction: Learners’ Understanding of the Intersections of the Self, the Other and Power
The present qualitative study sought to explore the relationship between English language learning and identity reconstruction from the viewpoints of Iranian language learners. The data were collected by means of focus-group interviews with forty-five male intermediate learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). To define the concept of identity, the participants were found to draw upon notions as diverse as personal and social characteristics, ethnic origins, geographical locations, religious affiliations, national customs and rituals and values, amongst others. Furthermore, the vast majority of the learners held that learning
English had a profound impact on how they perceive their identity. Of these, nearly all the interviewees regarded the above impact as highly positive and beneficial to the course of language learning. The interviewees also expressed strong inclination to integrate and, therefore, to dentify with the target linguistic and cultural norms. Notwithstanding, a number of opposing voices were raised by some learners who resisted identity reconstruction through language learning, claiming that they learned English simply for the sake of instrumental, as opposed to integrative, purposes. These participants also levelled criticisms at what they
viewed as ‘the imposition of Western values on an Islamic country’. The results highlight the vital role of motivation and the status of English as an international language in viewing, redefining and reconstructing identity. In conclusion, the findings confirm the role of discursive practices, power relations, solidarity and otherising with regard to identity
reconstruction in the course of second language (L2) learning.
scale study of two Saudi MA in TESOL students at North American university. Journal of Language
and Linguistic Studies (JLLS), 5(2), 62–84.
Blackburn, L. A. (2000). The development of sociolinguistic meanings: The worldview of a deaf child within his home environment. In M. Metzger (Ed.), Bilingualism and identity in deaf communities (pp. 219–254). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Burr, V. (2006). An introduction to social constructionism. London, UK: Routledge.
Cook, V. (1999). Going beyond the native speaker in language teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 33(2), 185–209.
Crystal, D. (2003). English as a global language. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Davies, A. (2007). An introduction to applied linguistics: From practice to theory (2nd ed.). Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press.
Day, E. M. (2002). Identity and the young English language learner. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Deters, P. (2011). Identity, agency and the acquisition of professional language and culture. London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Downes, W. (2011). Language and religion: A journey into the human mind. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Ebtekar, P. (2012). Whose voice is telling the story? An Iranian immigrant woman’s language learning experiences. TESOL in Context, Special Edition S3: November 2012. Retrieved from http://www.tesol. org.au/files/files/269_parisa_ebtekar.pdf
Edwards, J. (2009). Language and identity: An introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Ellis, R. (2012). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Hahn, A. (2001). The “foreign” in foreign language education. In B. Johnston & S. Irujo (Eds.), Research and practice in language teacher education: Voices from the field (pp. 257–267). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition.
Holliday, A. (2009). English as a lingua franca, ‘non-native speakers’ and cosmopolitan realities. In
F. Sharifian (Ed.), English as an international language (pp. 21–33). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Huang, W. (2011). The EFL learner identity development: A perspective of metaphor. International
Journal of Innovative Interdisciplinary Research, 1, 1–13.
Jenkins, J. (2006). Current perspectives on teaching World Englishes and English as a lingua franca.
TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 157–181.
Johnson, K., & Johnson, H. (Eds.). (1999). Encyclopaedic dictionary of applied linguistics. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Johnstone, B. (2008). Discourse analysis (2nd ed.). Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Joseph, J. E. (2009). Identity and language. In J. L. Mey (Ed.), Concise encyclopaedia of pragmatics (pp. 345–351). Oxford, UK: Elsevier Ltd.
Kabuto, B. (2011). Becoming biliterate: Identity, ideology, and learning to read and write in two languages. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kachru, B. B. (1985a). Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: The English language in the outer circle. In R. Quirk & H. G. Widdowson (Eds.), English in the world: Teaching and learning the language and literatures (pp. 11–30). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Kachru, B. B. (1992a). The second diaspora of English. In T. W. Machan & C. T. Scott (Eds.), English in its social contexts: Essays in historical sociolinguistics (pp. 230–252). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Kim, H. (2011). Native speakerism affecting nonnative English teachers’ identity formation: A critical perspective. English Teaching, 66(4), 53–71.
Kinginger, C. (2004). Alice doesn’t live here anymore: Foreign language learning and identity
reconstruction. In A. Pavlenko & A. Blackledge (Eds.), Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts (pp. 219–242). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod. New Jersey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Larsen-Freeman, D., & Cameron, L. (2007). Complex systems and applied linguistics. Oxford, UK:
Oxford University Press.
Lazzaro-Salazar, M. V. (2013). Diving into the depths of identity construction and motivation of a
foreign language learner. Argentinian Journal of Applied Linguistics (AJAL), 1(1), 6–23.
Lefkowitz, N., & Hedgcock, J. (2006). Sound effects: Social pressure and identity negotiation in the
Spanish language classroom. Applied Language Learning, 16(1), 17–42.
Li, L., & Simpson, R. (2013). Telling tales: Discourse narratives of ESOL migrant identities. Novitas-
ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language), 7(1), 1–16.
Lurda, E. (2009). Attitudes towards English as an international language: The pervasiveness of native models among L2 users and teachers. In F. Sharifian (Ed.), English as an international language (pp. 119–134). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2005). Second language research. New Jersey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Morita, N. (2004). Negotiating participation and identity in second language academic communities. TESOL Quarterly, 38(4), 573–603.
Nabavi, M. (2010). Constructing the ‘citizen’ in citizenship education. Canadian Journal for New
Scholars in Education, 3(1), 1–10.
Norton, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9–31.
Norton, B. (1997). Language, identity, and the ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 409–429.
Norton, B. (2009). Identity: Second language. In J. L. Mey (Ed.), Concise encyclopedia of pragmatics
(pp. 358–364). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.
Norton, B. (2011). Identity. In J. Simpson (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 318–330). London, UK: Routledge.
Norton, B. (2013). Identity and language learning: Extending the conversation. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Norton, B. (2014). Identity and poststructuralist theory in SLA. In S. Mercer & M Williams (Eds.),
Multiple perspectives on the self in SLA (pp. 59–74). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Norton, B., & McKinney, C. (2011). An identity approach to second language acquisition. In D. Atkinson (Ed.), Alternative approaches to second language acquisition (pp. 73–94). London, UK: Routledge.
Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. London, UK: Hodder Education.
Paulston, C. B. (1978). Biculturalism: Some reflections and speculations. TESOL Quarterly, 12(4),
Pavlenko, A. (2003). “I never knew I was a bilingual”: Reimagining teacher identities in TESOL.
Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 2(4), 251–268.
Rich, S., & Troudi, S. (2006). Hard times: Arab TESOL students’ experiences of racialization and
othering in the United Kingdom. TESOL Quarterly, 40(3), 615–627.
Ritzau, U. (2015). Self-positioning through beginners’ foreign language. International Journal of
Applied Linguistics, 25(1), 105–126. doi: 10.1111/ijal.12053
Roth, W. (2010). Language, learning, context. New York, NY: Routledge.
Sato, T. (2014). The effects of study abroad on second language identities and language learning.
Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, 5(3), 28–41.
Saville-Troike, M. (2006). Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press Schecter, S. R., & Bayley, R. (1997). Language socialization practices and cultural identity: Case studies of Mexican-descent families in California and Texas. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 513–541.
Scoon, A. R. (1971). Affective influences on English language learning among Indian students. TESOL Quarterly, 5(4), 285–292.
Tamimi Sa’d, S. H., & Modirkhamene, S. (2015). Examining Acculturation Model in an EFL context:
Learners’ attitudes towards target language accent vs. L1 accent. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies, 15(1), 25–38. Retrieved from http://journalarticle.ukm.my/8257/1/5373-22053-1-PB_(1).pdf
Tarhan, H., & Balban, S. (2014). Motivation, learner identity and language learning. International
Journal on New Trends in Education and Their Implications, 5(1), 183–197.
Trappes-Lomax, H. (2004). Discourse analysis. In A. Davies & C. Elder (Eds.), The handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 133–164). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Ushioda, E. (2009). A person-in-context relational view of emergent motivation, self and identity. In
Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 215–228). Bristol,
UK: Multilingual Matters.
Ushioda, E., & Dörnyei, Z. (2009). Motivation, language identities and the L2 Self: A theoretical
Overview. In Z. Dörnyei & E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp. 1–8).
Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Wang, Y., & Phillion, J. (2011). Hui Students’ identity construction in eastern China: A postcolonial
critique. Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, 2(4), 39–51.
Waters, A. (2007). Native-speakerism in ELT: Plus ça change...? System, 35(3), 281–292.
Widdowson, H. (1994). The ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), 377–389.
Wortham, S. (2008). Shifting identities in the classroom. In C. R. Caldas-Coulthard & R. Iedema
(Eds.), Identity trouble: Critical discourse and contested identities (pp. 205–228). New York, NY:
Yihong, G., Zhao, Y., Ying, C., & Yan, Z. (2007). Relationship between English learning motivation
types and self-identity changes among Chinese students. TESOL Quarterly, 41(1), 133–155.
Zacharias, N. T. (2012). EFL students’ understanding of their multilingual English identities. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(2), 233–244.
Zhang, Q. (2010). Attitudes beyond the inner circle: Investigating Hong Kong students’ attitudes
Towards English accents. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Newcastle University, United Kingdom.
In order to ensure both the widest dissemination and protection of material published in CEPS Journal, we ask Authors to transfer to the Publisher (Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana) the rights of copyright in the Articles they contribute. This enables the Publisher to ensure protection against infringement.