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Identity Trajectories of Adult Second Language Learners

Identity Trajectories of Adult Second Language Learners

Cristiana Palmieri


Additional Information


This book explores the motivations of adult second language (L2) learners to learn Italian in continuing education settings in Australia. It focuses on their motivational drives, learning trajectories and related dynamics of identity development triggered by the learning process. Central to the study are adult L2 learners, who are still a largely under-researched and growing group of learners, and readers will gain a better understanding of the learning process of this specific group of learners and ideas for sustaining L2 adult learning motivation in continuing education settings. Furthermore, the book discusses the role played by the Italian migrant community in Australia in making Italian a sought-after language to learn. It explores how a migrant community may influence motivation, and highlights and expands on the notion of L2 learning contexts, showing the existence of sociocultural environments where second language learning trajectories are affected by the presence of migrant groups.

Cristiana Palmieri is a research affiliate within the Department of Italian Studies, School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research interests lie in adult education, lifelong learning and sociolinguistics, with a focus on adult second language learning motivation and identity.

Given the dominance of English in L2 motivation research, a detailed analysis of learning Italian as a foreign language is more than welcome. Our appetite should be further whetted by the fact that the study employs an integrated theoretical approach that draws on several paradigms, from integrativeness to the ideal self and identity formation. Add to this blend a mixed-methods research design and the result is a motivational cocktail that most readers will find highly pleasing if not fantastico!

This thorough analysis of the integrative search for expanded cultural homes probes why English-speaking adults in an Australian cosmopolitan city, facing the Pacific and oriented to Asia, choose to learn Italian. What new identities do they seek and forge? Palmieri sheds light on cultural enrichment reasoning via contemporary methods of second language identity formation.

Focusing on non-heritage adult learners of Italian in Australia, Palmieri skilfully integrates various theoretical frameworks to analyse the dynamic interplay among ‘identity’ and ‘community’ (imagined community, local migrant community, classroom community…) in shaping their motivation to engage with this language. This is a richly illuminating study of a less researched learning context in the L2 motivation field.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
DOI iv
Contents v
Tables and Figures vii
Acknowledgements ix
1 Introduction: Learning a Language as an Identity-Shaping Journey 1
2 L2 Learning Motivation, Identity and Community: Reshaping Social Identity through L2 Learning 7
3 Learning Italian Outside Italy: Culture, Lifestyle and Italophilia 35
4 Learning Italian in Australia: Theoretical Framework andResearch Method 55
5 The Ideal L2 Selfand Italian Learning Motivation: A Quantitative Investigation 73
6 Community and Identity: A Qualitative Exploration of Drivers for Learning Italian 102
7 Italian Learning in Australia: Under the Spell of a Cultural Icon 144
Appendix A Questionnaire 154
References 161
Index 177