This dissertation reports my collation of the language learning narratives of international students taking degree programmes taught through English in the Netherlands. Narrative representations of the experiences of seven internationally-oriented students reveal learner perspectives of language acquisition beyond the formal classroom. Meanwhile,I have used personal narratives to represent my own interaction with participants and data, resulting in a portrayal of my growth from teacher into qualitative researcher. I record the learning experiences of the participants through Language Learning Histories (Murphey, Chen & Chen: 2004), semi-structured interviews and journal entries. This has enabled me to show how local participative practices have impacted upon language acquisition at different stages of the participants' educational lives. Narrative interpretations of the data provide a record of the identity work required for participants to achieve participation and negotiate agency in their core learning community (ICF) and other communities. The narratives of these learners are grounded in notions of situated learning. I use Communities of Practice (Wenger 1998) as the main conceptual framework during this investigation, discussing language acquisition in terms of participation in communities through legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) and mutual engagement. However, I also draw on perspectives from within the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), notably a heuristic understanding of Activity Theory (Lantolf & Favlenko 2001; Ivanic 2006). This research provides an example of how narrative interpretations of language learning experiences can provide an understanding of the impact of local educational practices on learner participation in and across communities. I conclude that there is a need for greater transparency and awareness of the relationship between language learning, identity work and participation.
|Date of Award||2008|