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Taking the very first overseas study trip: a case study on a junior high EFL learner’s identity change and challenges
Wu, Yi Hsuan
Chao, Chin Chi
Wu, Yi Hsuan
language learner identity
|Issue Date:||2013-02-04 09:44:10 (UTC+8)|
Study abroad (SA) has been regarded as a great way to help learners develop foreign language proficiency. The major purpose of this study is to explore how short-term SA experience can affect the learning trajectory and the identity (re)construction of a Taiwanese junior high school student called Jenny through investigating her short-term study trip to the U.S.
A qualitative method was adopted in this case study. Data were collected through diaries, documentation, and three semi-structured interviews. Jenny's English learning experiences were explored longitudinally by categorizing them into three main phases: the pre-SA experience, the during-SA experience, and the three-month-later post-SA experience. By analyzing the data collected, the difficulties and challenges that Jenny encountered in the foreign context, her changing imagined communities and identity, and the impact this short-term SA experience had on her perspectives on English leaning and herself as an English learner were discussed.
It was found that Jenny encountered some difficulties during the trip and she struggled to (1) build up relations with members of her host family, (2) resolve the conflicts in school context, and (3) deal with the difficulties when interacting with target language speakers. Moreover, just as Norton’s(2011) definition of identity provided, Jenny's identity and her identification with her imagined American community had been constantly challenged and revised during the trip, leading to the deeper realization of her identity and herself as a language learner. Other than that, after the trip Jenny's commitment toward her native country was strengthened because she cultivated a new perspective toward her identity as a Taiwanese and redefined her relationship with her vernacular world.
Finally, pedagogical implications and suggestions derived from the discussions were proposed for SA program designers, language educators, and English teachers to make the SA trips more fruitful and beneficial for language learners.
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