Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning

This month we published Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning by Masuko Miyahara. In this post, Masuko introduces the key themes of the book.

Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language LearningThe main purpose of this book is to shed new light on the understanding of the processes of L2-related identity construction and development among learners studying English in a foreign language context. Although the notion of identity in this study is grounded in poststructuralist theory, it attempts to integrate the sociologically and the psychologically oriented take of identity formation, and calls for a more balanced approach to the subject.

The book focuses on English learners at higher education institutions in Japan, and highlights the instrumental agency of individuals in responding and acting upon the social environment, and in developing, maintaining and/or constructing their desired identities as L2 users. The study is particularly unique in the insights it offers into the role of experience, emotions, social and environmental affordances, and individuals’ responses to these, in shaping their personal orientations to English and self-perceptions as English learners and users. The work includes an intricate analysis of how spatial-temporal dimensions are intertwined through the process of narrative construction as participants relate their thoughts and the researcher represents and interprets their stories.

A further characteristic of this book is its discussion of the use of narrative data in the methodological approach. The study frames narratives as a means to understand experience, where human beings create meanings from their experiences both individually and socially, and it maintains that narrative studies are basically interpretative in nature. Although most researchers tend to focus on the ‘success’ of their studies, the ‘messiness’ involved is brought to the fore in this study. In particular, this paper argues the importance for researchers to develop a critical and reflective framework with their narrative data, and to show how their theoretical assumptions are fed into all stages of the research process. The book concludes by calling for more recognition of the diversity of approaches to narrative studies in applied linguistics that includes multiple forms and styles especially in terms of representation.

For more information about this book please see our website.

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