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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

Michael Schwartz

Third Advisor

Eddah Mutua

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

identity, Global English, imagined communities, investment, sojourn, language ideologies


This qualitative study investigates the process of identity negotiation and formation of 10 Brazilian English language learners (ELLs). Participants were asked to share their experiences in formal as well as informal English language learning environments, and to discuss how these experiences potentially impacted their ability to create an imagined identity and join an imagined community of the target language. Data was generated through comprehensive semi-structured interviews with ten ELLs who have either attended university or professional-level English classes in Brazil and/or in an English-speaking country, but have also spent extensive time (at least 1 month) in an English-speaking country. Participants completed a brief demographic and language learning experience inventory and a post-interview verbal questionnaire about their experience of the interview itself. The researcher used an interview guide with definitions of key terms, notes, and the completed inventories during the interviews, and email-correspondence and to clarify certain responses. Data analysis will follow strategies of grounded theory and content analysis, with a special poststructuralist theoretical focus on imagined communities (Norton, 2010) and the call to decolonize English language teaching (Morgan & Ramanathan, 2005). The findings show that participants view informal language learning contexts as much as more instrumental in formation and negotiation of their identities, and that learning English in these two contexts and globally and locally has different consequences for not only language acquisition but also access to opportunities and agency in the target language community as well as the reentry in the home context. Participants used a variety of identity negotiative and constructive strategies and had complex, critically self-reflective metacognitive descriptions of their process of identity negotiation or change over time and space.


2021 Distinguished Thesis Award Winner



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