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Second language learners of English in transition: an investigation of female learner identity in a Saudi context

Al-Johani, KM; (2017) Second language learners of English in transition: an investigation of female learner identity in a Saudi context. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This one-year qualitative, multiple case study investigates identity as constructed by four Arab women attending the preparatory programme of a Saudi Englishmedium university and then moving on to their freshman year. From a broadly poststructuralist perspective, constructions of identity are investigated in two different ways: firstly, from a longitudinal view, continuities and changes in participants’ big narratives are examined and secondly, subject positions which emerge in selected small stories are analysed in more detail. Interpretation and analysis were guided by a second language learning theoretical framework which views the learner as integrated in their learning context. However, in order to reach a more nuanced understanding than narrative inquiry studies of identity which focus on extracting themes in terms of the individual learner, self-presentation, performance/positioning devices, the interactive accomplishment of talk and the wider social context were also examined. Shifting identity positions problematized continuity which created a complex picture of EL2 learner identity. Subject positions emerged in interaction which linked participants’ wider social identities to their investments in language learning and their imagined selves. In positioning themselves as members of social groups, participants developed voices of resistance to contest institutional and patriarchal discourses and to create agentive spaces. Thus, through the use of an innovative methodology, this thesis contributes to an understanding of language learner, gender, language and religious identities in the Saudi context. It also makes a contribution to the understanding of transition into Englishmedium higher education in Saudi Arabia. Transition is seen as a destabilizing stage in a learning career and as a renegotiation of identity in order to engage with new learning practices and groups. Post-transition identities were constructed in escape narratives and performances of critical turning points. Only one participant performed a transitional narrative identity which indicated social, linguistic and academic engagement with her new learning/discourse community.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Second language learners of English in transition: an investigation of female learner identity in a Saudi context
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1560937
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