The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Michael Schwartz

Second Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Third Advisor

Rami Amiri

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

language, identity, heritage, Somali, code-switching


Research in second language teaching and learning has many aspects to focus on, but this paper will focus on the sociolinguistic issues related to language usage and identity. Language usage is the lens that is used to understand the identity of Somali males in America. Language usage in social contexts gives us the opportunity to learn the multiple identities of Somali males in America. Being multilingual and having multiple identities in America is a constant battle for Somali males in America. They are constantly negotiating identity on a day to day basis. The findings are based on three Somali males in America in their early ‘20s who are all enrolled in a 4-year institution in the Midwest. This study sheds light on the identity of Somali males in America through their language usage. This study finds that language learning is more than a simple linguistic system and signs, but it engages the identity of the learned. Language is the number one factor that makes someone Somali according to these participants. Somali males in America are caught between their American community and Somali community. They are not accepted fully in either community. They are too foreign for many Americans, and too American for their Somali community. The findings of this study hope to educate conscious citizens, policy makers, and educators in an effort to reduce, if not eliminate, stereotyping of Somali males in America. Through the language they use in their social settings, we have seen the many different identities they employ and negotiate in their daily lives. Somali males in America have a foot in each of their communities and are constantly figuring who they are.