Language Learner Identities and Sociocultural Worlds

Kelleen Toohey and Bonny Norton

in The Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistics

Second edition

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195384253
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Language Learner Identities and Sociocultural Worlds

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This article briefly reviews an increasingly large body of research that seeks to understand the relationship between language-learner identities and their sociocultural worlds. Rather than seeing learner identities as developed individually and as expressive of the essence of individuals, current identity theorists have argued that identities are complex, multilayered, often hybrid, sometimes imagined, and developed through activity by and for individuals in many social fields. This complex notion of selves has been accompanied by a great deal of recent research on language and learning, drawing primarily on postmodern and poststructuralist theories. It begins with a consideration of current understandings of these fundamental concepts, and then reviews some of the foundational studies, before focusing on more recent research on identity and language learning. This is an exciting field that is stimulating many researchers and much debate. It is being informed in diverse ways by work in anthropology, sociology, postcolonial and cultural studies, and education.

Keywords: identities; language learner identities; language learning; foundational studies; anthropology; sociology; postcolonial; cultural studies

Article.  4839 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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