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

James Robinson

Second Advisor

John Madden

Third Advisor

Sharon Cogdill

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

Somali, identity, Somali college students, Race and identity among Somali college students, ethnicity and language learning, East African


Somali youth in the U.S. are introduced to a culture of racial division and an array of identity choices, and whatever trajectory they take will eventually be determinant of their language development. Race is a very key aspect to my research in discovering the effects of race and identity in the perceived development of immigrant English language learners in the school systems in America. Identity is potentially one of the most important factors in development of the learner’s motivation toexcel in college. My research questions are the following: How are Somali college students molded into an ethnolinguistic category? How does the choice of their identity affect their perceived academic achievement in colleges/universities? What invokes Somali College students to black culture?

My participants were from Somalia, an East African country. The Somali participants I chose for the study were all immigrant males whose ages ranged from 18-34yrs and all were enrolled in college or university for a minimum of one semester. It was crucial that each participant have been in the U.S. a minimum of two years or more. This assumed that each participant had spent enough time in the U.S. to begin adjusting to the culture and, therefore, has had ample time for formation of identity. My study reaffirmed that attitudes of Somali nationalism were prevalent and ultimately held true to be a central component of Somali identity amongst those immigrants to America. Phenotypical divisions based on race did not have much meaning or significance to Somali immigrants. Rather, Somalis were found to be very ethnocentric and most could not relate to divisions between White or Black. . Because of their identity. some felt their resources and networks were limited as a direct result of their identity. Phenotypical divisions based on race did not have much meaning or significance to Somali immigrants.