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English Title

Identity Negotiation and Construction in ESL

Keywords

study abroad, second language learning, identity, intercultural competence, communicative competence, host community

Disciplines

Applied Linguistics

Abstract

This qualitative longitudinal phenomenological study was conducted to investigate identity negotiation and construction in a second language (L2) learning environment. Data were collected from 35 Saudi learners of English in the United Kingdom over a one-year period using a background information questionnaire, three sets of in-depth interviews, which were carried out before, during, and after the study abroad (SA) program, and monthly reflective journals. Data analysis revealed several opportunities and challenges that the participants encountered during their SA period. The findings also showed that most learners succeeded in negotiating and constructing an intercultural identity, which allowed them to actively seek out opportunities to participate in the host community and improve their language-learning outcomes. However, for a few learners, experiencing identity conflicts and failure to construct their desired identity was a primary obstacle to their language development as they tended to withdraw from social interactions. The study concluded by presenting a number of implications for SA programs and directions for future research.

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