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Postgraduate Thesis: Mutual influences between learners' identity construction and English language learning in the first year of university study in China
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TitleMutual influences between learners' identity construction and English language learning in the first year of university study in China
 
AuthorsHuang, Huizhu
黄慧珠
 
Issue Date2012
 
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
AbstractThis thesis explores the mutual impacts between English learners’ identity construction and their English learning at university level of education in the People’s Republic of China. Grounded in the sociocultural perspective on second language learning and based on the theory of communities of practice and the concepts of imagined communities and investment, the research focuses on two non-English major students’ English learning in a comprehensive university and investigates the social, historical and individualistic factors causing identity continuity and/or identity change in the first year of university study and explores how identity construction and English learning mutually impacted each other. This research adopted a qualitative case study method and employed weekly diaries and interviews as data collection instruments. Data collection lasted six months. Weekly diaries guided by prompt questions were collected per week to track learners’ English learning and identity construction. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted every five to six weeks to gain rich contextual, historical and individual information and to retrospectively find out learners’ English learning and identities before entering the university and in the first semester in university. Their English teacher was interviewed for data enrichment and triangulation. Thematic analysis and Fairclough’s model of discourse analysis were used to identify evidence which shows identity continuity, identity change, and English learning. Findings show that in English learning in the university, language learners experienced either identity continuity or change in English learner identities, future career expectations and the sense of belonging to learning communities in the university. Learners’ imagined identities in future careers and future social status remained continuous in the first year and the imagined identities in future careers and future social status strongly promoted learners’ investments in English learning. By engaging in the learning communities in the university with imagination of learning communities they desired to participate in and imagination of their future, learners built their sense of belonging to the university, their classes and their dormitories. The growth of the sense of belonging reflects learners’ identity change. The sense of belonging facilitated their full participation in English learning in the university, classes and dormitories as learning communities. The findings also show that when congruence between the actual and imagined communities appeared, learners’ English learning were promoted, whereas incongruence negatively impacted English learning. The findings of this study reveal the importance of learners’ imagined communities and imagined identities in future careers and future social status and also reveal the effects of learners’ non-academic factors on their English learning. This thesis suggests that learners’ diverse backgrounds and multiple identities should be taken into consideration when English curricular are designed. Career counselling and buddy schemes are also suggested. Accordingly, this study enhances the understanding of the first-year non-English major undergraduates’ identity construction in EFL learning in China. This study also attracts educators’ and researchers’ attention to the needs of non-English major students’ English learning in China as well as the needs of first-year undergraduates who experience a transition from high school to university.
 
AdvisorsLuk, JCM
 
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
 
SubjectIdentity (Psychology)
English language - Study and teaching (Higher) - China.
English language - Study and teaching (Higher) - Chinese speakers.
 
Dept/ProgramEducation
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.advisorLuk, JCM
 
dc.contributor.authorHuang, Huizhu
 
dc.contributor.author黄慧珠
 
dc.date.hkucongregation2012
 
dc.date.issued2012
 
dc.description.abstractThis thesis explores the mutual impacts between English learners’ identity construction and their English learning at university level of education in the People’s Republic of China. Grounded in the sociocultural perspective on second language learning and based on the theory of communities of practice and the concepts of imagined communities and investment, the research focuses on two non-English major students’ English learning in a comprehensive university and investigates the social, historical and individualistic factors causing identity continuity and/or identity change in the first year of university study and explores how identity construction and English learning mutually impacted each other. This research adopted a qualitative case study method and employed weekly diaries and interviews as data collection instruments. Data collection lasted six months. Weekly diaries guided by prompt questions were collected per week to track learners’ English learning and identity construction. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted every five to six weeks to gain rich contextual, historical and individual information and to retrospectively find out learners’ English learning and identities before entering the university and in the first semester in university. Their English teacher was interviewed for data enrichment and triangulation. Thematic analysis and Fairclough’s model of discourse analysis were used to identify evidence which shows identity continuity, identity change, and English learning. Findings show that in English learning in the university, language learners experienced either identity continuity or change in English learner identities, future career expectations and the sense of belonging to learning communities in the university. Learners’ imagined identities in future careers and future social status remained continuous in the first year and the imagined identities in future careers and future social status strongly promoted learners’ investments in English learning. By engaging in the learning communities in the university with imagination of learning communities they desired to participate in and imagination of their future, learners built their sense of belonging to the university, their classes and their dormitories. The growth of the sense of belonging reflects learners’ identity change. The sense of belonging facilitated their full participation in English learning in the university, classes and dormitories as learning communities. The findings also show that when congruence between the actual and imagined communities appeared, learners’ English learning were promoted, whereas incongruence negatively impacted English learning. The findings of this study reveal the importance of learners’ imagined communities and imagined identities in future careers and future social status and also reveal the effects of learners’ non-academic factors on their English learning. This thesis suggests that learners’ diverse backgrounds and multiple identities should be taken into consideration when English curricular are designed. Career counselling and buddy schemes are also suggested. Accordingly, this study enhances the understanding of the first-year non-English major undergraduates’ identity construction in EFL learning in China. This study also attracts educators’ and researchers’ attention to the needs of non-English major students’ English learning in China as well as the needs of first-year undergraduates who experience a transition from high school to university.
 
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version
 
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation
 
dc.description.thesislevelmaster's
 
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy
 
dc.identifier.hkulb4833017
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)
 
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.
 
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License
 
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B48330176
 
dc.subject.lcshIdentity (Psychology)
 
dc.subject.lcshEnglish language - Study and teaching (Higher) - China.
 
dc.subject.lcshEnglish language - Study and teaching (Higher) - Chinese speakers.
 
dc.titleMutual influences between learners' identity construction and English language learning in the first year of university study in China
 
dc.typePG_Thesis
 
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<item><contributor.advisor>Luk, JCM</contributor.advisor>
<contributor.author>Huang, Huizhu</contributor.author>
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<date.issued>2012</date.issued>
<description.abstract>&#65279;This thesis explores the mutual impacts between English learners&#8217; identity construction and their English learning at university level of education in the People&#8217;s Republic of China. Grounded in the sociocultural perspective on second language learning and based on the theory of communities of practice and the concepts of imagined communities and investment, the research focuses on two non-English major students&#8217; English learning in a comprehensive university and investigates the social, historical and individualistic factors causing identity continuity and/or identity change in the first year of university study and explores how identity construction and English learning mutually impacted each other.



This research adopted a qualitative case study method and employed weekly diaries and interviews as data collection instruments. Data collection lasted six months. Weekly diaries guided by prompt questions were collected per week to track learners&#8217; English learning and identity construction. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted every five to six weeks to gain rich contextual, historical and individual information and to retrospectively find out learners&#8217; English learning and identities before entering the university and in the first semester in university. Their English teacher was interviewed for data enrichment and triangulation. Thematic analysis and Fairclough&#8217;s model of discourse analysis were used to identify evidence which shows identity continuity, identity change, and English learning. 



Findings show that in English learning in the university, language learners experienced either identity continuity or change in English learner identities, future career expectations and the sense of belonging to learning communities in the university. Learners&#8217; imagined identities in future careers and future social status remained continuous in the first year and the imagined identities in future careers and future social status strongly promoted learners&#8217; investments in English learning. By engaging in the learning communities in the university with imagination of learning communities they desired to participate in and imagination of their future, learners built their sense of belonging to the university, their classes and their dormitories. The growth of the sense of belonging reflects learners&#8217; identity change. The sense of belonging facilitated their full participation in English learning in the university, classes and dormitories as learning communities. The findings also show that when congruence between the actual and imagined communities appeared, learners&#8217; English learning were promoted, whereas incongruence negatively impacted English learning.



The findings of this study reveal the importance of learners&#8217; imagined communities and imagined identities in future careers and future social status and also reveal the effects of learners&#8217; non-academic factors on their English learning. This thesis suggests that learners&#8217; diverse backgrounds and multiple identities should be taken into consideration when English curricular are designed. Career counselling and buddy schemes are also suggested. Accordingly, this study enhances the understanding of the first-year non-English major undergraduates&#8217; identity construction in EFL learning in China. This study also attracts educators&#8217; and researchers&#8217; attention to the needs of non-English major students&#8217; English learning in China as well as the needs of first-year undergraduates who experience a transition from high school to university.</description.abstract>
<language>eng</language>
<publisher>The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)</publisher>
<relation.ispartof>HKU Theses Online (HKUTO)</relation.ispartof>
<rights>The author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.</rights>
<rights>Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License</rights>
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<subject.lcsh>Identity (Psychology)</subject.lcsh>
<subject.lcsh>English language - Study and teaching (Higher) - China.</subject.lcsh>
<subject.lcsh>English language - Study and teaching (Higher) - Chinese speakers.</subject.lcsh>
<title>Mutual influences between learners&apos; identity construction and English language learning in the first year of university study in China</title>
<type>PG_Thesis</type>
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<description.thesisname>Master of Philosophy</description.thesisname>
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<date.hkucongregation>2012</date.hkucongregation>
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