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Volume 14 Number 2, Summer 2017, Pages 211-379 PDF Download

Negotiating Identity: An Asian Migrant Language Learner Imagining the Future

    Jinah Lee, Judy Hunter & Margaret Franken

Asian migrants that settle in countries like NZ learn English in the hope of accessing mainstream society. However, this process presents many challenges to their identities and their sense of self worth. This paper explores one migrant's journey. The case study of "Jessica" used a narrative approach to investigate her identity construction in trying to get entry to a degree programme. The study focuses on significant events collected from eight in-depth interviews over a period of eleven months. In the process of being originally denied entry to university, then later accepted, Jessica negotiated the negative and limited identity imposed on her, re-constructing her identity as a university student and successful language learner with increased self-value. The findings indicate the significance of imposed identities on self-value, the importance of identity negotiation and the close link to a sense of belonging in mainstream society. Journeys such as Jessica's hopefully make policy makers and language education providers aware of the importance of the sense of self when supporting migrants who are language learners.

Keywords: migrant language learners, negotiating identities, access to higher education