Shaping your Identity as a Speaker of English: The Struggles of a Beginner Language Learner

Construir su identidad como hablante de inglés: los retos de un principiante

  • Janeth María Ortiz Medina University of Antioquia
Keywords: identity construction, knowledge-power relations, language learning, positioning (en_US)
Keywords: aprendizaje de lenguas, construcción de identidad, posicionamiento, relaciones conocimiento-poder (es_ES)

Abstract (en_US)

In Colombia, political and educational campaigns have promoted English as the language of success and as a fundamental requirement to comply with the demands of a globalized world; nevertheless, little attention has been paid to the individual experiences of Colombians as they learn this language or to what happens to their identities during this process. This paper reports on a study that explored how three young adult learners of English constructed their identities as speakers of English through their positioning in oral tasks in an English class. It focuses on the story of one of the participants: a beginner female English learner. Data collection methods included class video and audio-recordings, interviews, and diaries kept by the participants. Findings indicated that learners’ positioning in spoken interactions not only directly affected their use of English, but also led them to non-linear transformations of their identities as speakers of English. These results pinpoint the need to gain awareness of the centrality of students’ identities in both their learning process and in language teaching practices and the need to observe how positioning operates in the language classroom.

Abstract (es_ES)

En nuestro país, las campañas políticas y educativas han promovido el inglés como la lengua del éxito y como requisito fundamental para cumplir con las exigencias de un mundo globalizado; sin embargo, poca atención se ha puesto a las experiencias particulares de los colombianos cuando aprenden esta lengua o a lo que pasa con sus identidades durante este proceso. Este artículo está basado en un estudio que exploró cómo tres adultos jóvenes, aprendices de inglés, construían sus identidades como hablantes de esa lengua mediante su posicionamiento en actividades orales de clase. El artículo se enfoca en la historia de una de las participantes del estudio: una aprendiz de inglés principiante. Los métodos de recolección de datos incluyeron grabaciones de video y audio de las clases, entrevistas y diarios escritos por los participantes. Los hallazgos del estudio mostraron que el posicionamiento de los aprendices en las interacciones orales no solo tuvo un impacto en su uso del inglés, sino que también los llevó a transformaciones no lineales de sus identidades como hablantes de esa lengua. Estos resultados señalan la necesidad de crear conciencia sobre el papel central de las identidades de los estudiantes tanto en su proceso de aprendizaje como en las prácticas de enseñanza de lengua; así como la necesidad de observar cómo operan las dinámicas de posicionamiento en la clase de lengua.


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How to Cite
Ortiz Medina, J. (2017). Shaping your Identity as a Speaker of English: The Struggles of a Beginner Language Learner. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 19(2), 250-262.
Published: 2017-08-04
Research Articles