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Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning

Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning

Masuko Miyahara


Additional Information


This book uses a narrative-oriented approach to shed light on the processes of identity construction and development among Japanese university students of English. The research highlights the instrumental agency of individuals in responding to and acting upon the social environment, and in developing, maintaining and/or reconstructing their identities as L2 users. The study offers unique insights into the role of experience, emotions, social and environmental affordances in shaping their personal orientations to English and self-perceptions as English learner-users. It also examines individuals’ responses to these factors and discusses fluctuations in their motivations. The additional value of this book lies in its detailed account of methodological procedures, challenges and ways to overcome obstacles encountered when undertaking qualitative longitudinal studies.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I found it a thought-provoking and stimulating read for those interested in identities, the self, and emotions, and their interplay with foreign language learning. Additionally, anyone with an interest in
conducting research using learner narratives may use it as an informative guide to the process and be alert to challenges that this type of research might pose.

Christina Gkonou, University of Essex, UK

This book uniquely incorporates Dewey’s work on experience to the development of an understanding of situated learning, imagined communities and the L2 ideal self. Miyahara links social and psychological factors in an effective and innovative way, making for a complex model of L2 identity which she applies masterfully to the English language learning narratives of Japanese university students. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in L2 identities, either from a theoretical or practical perspective.


David Block, ICREA/Universitat de Lleida, Spain

This is a bold study that brings together psychological and sociological perspectives on the motivation to learn English of six young Japanese. Informed both by wide reading and an intimate knowledge of context, Miyahara uses a narrative approach to demonstrate convincingly how the learners' experiences with English in childhood and adolescence colour their attitudes and motivation to learn during their first year at college.

Martin Lamb, University of Leeds, UK

Miyahara’s monograph contributes to identity research by constructing a theoretical framework combining both post-structuralist and psychological theories of identity (...) The explored EFL learners’ identities strengthen the field by shedding more light on the diverse ways in which English learners in EFL (as opposed to ESL) contexts construct their identities as English users in the globalized world. Furthermore, the detailed discussion of narrative analysis provides methodological insights for interested researchers to further develop the approach.

Hui-Jung Tang, University of Rochester, USA

Masuko Miyahara is Lecturer at the International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan. She has been working in the field for over 20 years and her areas of interest include identity studies and language learning, autonomy, emotions in language learning and methodological issues related to language learning research.

Miyahara’s detailed and illuminating narrative study of university students in Japan offers new insights into the role of experience and emotion in language learning in an EFL context. This book brings to life both current theories surrounding identity and motivation in language learning and complex methodological issues that arise in the research of these important concepts. 

Alison Stewart, Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Japan

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
Acknowledgements viii
Overview of the Research ix
Researcher’s Background xi
My Trajectory as a Language Learner, Teacher and a Researcher in Two Cultures and Languages xi
1\tIntroduction 1
Overview of the Enquiry: The Rationale and Aims of the Research 3
Situating the Context of the Research 5
English Education in Contemporary Japan: Teaching English as Communication 5
Diversifying Views of ‘English’ 9
Structure of the Book 11
2\tTheoretical Frameworks 13
Parallels Between the Poststructuralist Account of Identity and Dewey 14
Dewey and Language Learning: A Social Process 17
Points of Convergence: Situated Learning, Imagined Communities and the L2 Ideal Self 18
Creating a Discursive Space: The Ideal L2 Self and Experiential Profile 22
Discursive Space 24
The Ideal L2 Self in the EFL Context: The Notion of International Posture 30
Chapter Summary 32
3\tNarrative Approach: Identity Studies and Emotions 34
Qualitative Research 34
Narratives as Stories of Experiences 36
Narratives, Emotions and the Experiential Experience 44
Narrative Interviews: ‘Parameters of Sensitivity’ 47
Chapter Summary 49
4\tThe Research Design 51
Research Design 51
The Research Site: A Unique University 51
The Participants 57
Data Collection 60
Analysis of the Narrative Data 66
Constructing the Analytical Model 68
The Analytical Model 72
The Role of the Researcher: Some Interim Thoughts 77
Chapter Summary 78
5\tSayaka’s and Maki’s Stories: Authenticate and Strengthen L2 Possible Selves 80
Learners’ Past English-Learning Experiences 81
Learners’ Relationship and Orientation to English in the Past and Present 90
Learners’ View of Themselves as English-Users in the Past, Present and Future 97
Chapter Summary 103
6\tMegumi’s and Yui’s Stories: Desire to Create and Develop L2 Possible Selves 105
Learners’ Past English-Learning Experiences 106
Learners’ Relationship and Orientation to English in the Past and Present 112
Learners’ View of Themselves as English-Users in the Past, Present and Future 120
Chapter Summary 127
7\tHinako’s and Takehiro’s Stories: Ambivalent Desire to Create L2 Possible Selves 128
Learners’ Past English-Learning Experiences 128
Learners’ Relationship and Orientation to English in the Past and Present 134
Learners’ View of Themselves as English-Users in the Past, Present and Future 140
Chapter Summary 144
8\tAn Attempt to Weave the Threads Together 147
Linking the Stories of the Six Participants: What Their Narratives Tell Us 148
Proposing Models of Profiles 162
Chapter Summary 165
9\tConclusion and Afterword 166
Implications for Practice 166
Some Final Thoughts on Narrative Studies 171
Limitations to the Research 179
Afterword 180
References 182
Index 198