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How do international travel and study abroad experiences shift identities: A case study on a Taiwanese adult English learner
|Issue Date:||2017-05-01 11:26:58 (UTC+8)|
Study abroad (SA) has been thought of as a great way to help learners develop foreign language proficiency. The main purpose of this study is to explore how a Taiwanese adult English learner called Wayne experienced short-term SA and international trip to 26 countries and how these experiences shifted his identity, personal growth, the methods and attitudes towards English learning.
Qualitative methods were adopted in this case study through interviewing and recording the experiences before, during and after the international trip. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, journals, observation and documentation. Wayne's English learning experiences were explored by categorizing them into three main phases: the experiences before, during and three months after the trip. By analyzing the data collected, the shifts Wayne had were as following: the shift of language learner identity, the shift of his methods towards English learning, the shift of his attitude towards English learning, the shift of his recognition and attitudes towards the Western world and cultural exchange, and the shift of national identity. In addition, five themes were discussed, including new challenges and new realizations, identity shifts, power issues, e-opportunities for learning English and doing cultural exchanges, as well as the limitations of formal English education in Taiwan.
Furthermore, just as Norton’s (2011) definition of identity, Wayne's identity and his identification with imagined Western communities were also constantly changed during the trip, which led to his realization of his identity and himself as both a language learner and user. In addition, Wayne's responsibility for his own country was also aroused after the trip because he faced the embarrassing situation that his country was not recognized by some countries. He developed a new national identity as a
confident Taiwanese with the duty of engaging in cultural exchanges with international people.
Finally, pedagogical implications and suggestions derived from the study were proposed for planners of international trips, SA program designers, language educators, parents and English teachers in the hope of making international and SA trips more beneficial and helpful for language learners.
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