ERIC Number: EJ808313
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 51
Narrative and Identity in the "Language Learning Project"
Coffey, Simon; Street, Brian
Modern Language Journal, v92 n3 p452-464 Fall 2008
This article reports on a study that analysed life history accounts of language learning. The key aim of the study was to understand how the experience of language learning was discursively constructed through recourse to particular cultural worlds and narrative strategies. The study contributes to the growing field of research using language learning histories to extend our understanding of the learner as a social actor who derives and acts upon different identity positions that are institutionally and culturally situated but that are also dynamic and individually interpreted. Using the ethnographic concept of "figured worlds" (Holland, Lachiotte, Jr., Skinner, & Cain, 1998), we report here how participants--British adults who have learned a foreign language to a high level of proficiency--structure the "language learning project" through discursive representations of social structures meshed with personalised narratives of individual experience. By combining theoretical and methodological frames for narrative inquiry with an ethnographic perspective, we were able to identify a number of discursive worlds, both material and symbolic, that are figured into the autobiographical accounts. In the concluding discussion, we offer some possible directions for extending this type of investigation and also suggest some practical ways in which our analysis might enrich the teaching and learning of foreign languages.
Descriptors: Biographies, Second Language Learning, Learning Strategies, Foreign Countries, Language Proficiency, Adults, Ethnography, Discourse Analysis, Second Language Instruction
Blackwell Publishing. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8599; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/jnl_default.asp
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom