Foreign Language Learning and Identity Reconstruction: Learners’ Understanding of the Intersections of the Self, the Other and Power

  • Seyyed Hatam Tamimi Sa’d
Keywords: English as an international language, identity reconstruction, learner identity, other, power


The present qualitative study sought to explore the relationship between English language learning and identity reconstruction from the viewpoints of Iranian language learners. The data were collected by means of focus-group interviews with forty-five male intermediate learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). To define the concept of identity, the participants were found to draw upon notions as diverse as personal and social characteristics, ethnic origins, geographical locations, religious affiliations, national customs and rituals and values, amongst others. Furthermore, the vast majority of the learners held that learning
English had a profound impact on how they perceive their identity. Of these, nearly all the interviewees regarded the above impact as highly positive and beneficial to the course of language learning. The interviewees also expressed strong inclination to integrate and, therefore, to dentify with the target linguistic and cultural norms. Notwithstanding, a number of opposing voices were raised by some learners who resisted identity reconstruction through language learning, claiming that they learned English simply for the sake of instrumental, as opposed to integrative, purposes. These participants also levelled criticisms at what they
viewed as ‘the imposition of Western values on an Islamic country’. The results highlight the vital role of motivation and the status of English as an international language in viewing, redefining and reconstructing identity. In conclusion, the findings confirm the role of discursive practices, power relations, solidarity and otherising with regard to identity
reconstruction in the course of second language (L2) learning.


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How to Cite
Tamimi Sa’dS. H. (2017). Foreign Language Learning and Identity Reconstruction: Learners’ Understanding of the Intersections of the Self, the Other and Power. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 7(4), 13-36.