English Majors and Identity Negotiation:

A Case Study from Early 21st Century UKSW Students


    When individuals learn languages, their learning experiences include learning about the locally situated social and political nature of all languages, and thus people(s), that surround them. They explore how and when to deploy complex and growing sets of communicative resources in order to achieve communicative ends. As individuals’ personal communicative repertoires – and thus their experiences with different people and new information and ways of thinking and being in the world – shift and change, their identities do as well, and they learn to orient themselves differently within their multiple daily communities, in short, to maneuver through the world with a nuanced and critical lens. Based on data I collected with UKSW English Majors in the 2009-10 academic year, in this talk I will discuss the identity negotiations of students as they navigated Javanese, Indonesian, and English language learner and speaker identities. As they managed all of these identities and proficiencies, they spent ample time defining and redefining who they were as these labels' significance in their lives shifted and took on new values.


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