Last month, I presented a paper based on my Masters research project at the 2013 Joint SELF Biennial International Conference and Educational Research Association of Singapore (ERAS) Conference.
My research was a single case study which analyzed the English language learning experience of my student using Bonny Norton’s notion of how identity intersects with social relationships, and James Gee‘s take on Discourses.
For the abstract, read on:
Me and those English-speaking elites: Uncovering the identity of one minority ELL in Singapore
The minority English language learner (ELL) in Singapore is one who does not have English as a home language nor considers English as one’s first language even though Singapore’s education system and virtually every aspect of civic life uses and promotes English as a first and official language. Using the narrative inquiry method, I explore one minority ELL’s (“Rachel”) past and present schooling experiences in learning English. In understanding Rachel’s identity as an English language learner, I consider how her primary Discourse – a Mandarin-speaking working class family background – influences the acquisition of the secondary Discourse of school and English as a first and academic language (Gee, 2012). I also show how her identity is shaped by how inequitable social relationships influence language learning, and how investment in learning English is driven by both real and metaphorical capital to be gained (Norton Peirce, 1995; Norton, 2000). I then suggest that Rachel’s apparent contradictory attitudes of desire and reluctance toward language learning opportunities can be resolved by Gee’s (2012) notion of a mushfaking learner.
Gee, J. P. (2012). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourse (4th ed.). Oxford: Routledge.
Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9–31.
Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. London: Longman/Pearson Education.