Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/23765
Title: Linguistic Abilities and Identity in a Globalizing World: Perspectives of Proficient Taiwanese English Users
Authors: MARK FIFER SEILHAMER
Keywords: English, communities, globalization, identity, narrative, Taiwan
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2010
Source: MARK FIFER SEILHAMER (2010-08-31). Linguistic Abilities and Identity in a Globalizing World: Perspectives of Proficient Taiwanese English Users. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Various forces of globalization, all operating in tandem, have served to lessen the extent to which English is considered a foreign language of the 'other' for its users around the world. As more and more people use the language to facilitate communication in diverse and increasingly interconnected communities, it can no longer be assumed that its learners associate English with historically 'native' contexts of English use. Many, some scholars argue, are coming to conceptualize themselves as members of an imagined global community of English users and English as one of their own languages. This qualitative longitudinal study takes a narrative inquiry approach, presenting the stories of four young adult Taiwanese focal participants that are all quite proficient English users. It examines the role that linguistic abilities (particularly English abilities, but also French, Italian, and local languages) play in these participants' identity construction processes, their affiliations with and sense of ownership in the English language, and how their lives are impacted by their internalization of various globalization discourses. These include the discourses of internationalization and competitiveness that are continuously put forth by the Taiwan government, as well as enterprise culture discourses, which emphasize the importance of qualities associated with the 'entrepreneurial self,' such as self-reliance, boldness, and willingness to take risks to achieve goals. With a theoretical lens that incorporates various concepts, such as Norton's notion of investment and Bucholtz & Hall?s sociocultural linguistic approach to identity, this study chronicles focal participants' experiences over the course of the year following their graduation from a college specializing in languages, documenting their participation in different sorts of communities (communities of practice, Discourse communities, and imagined communities) as well as their sometimes shifting language affiliations. The extent to which participants were found to claim ownership in the English language varied, and whether they oriented more toward membership in an imagined global community of English users or associated the English language more with speakers from traditionally English-speaking Western countries was largely dependant on what communities they happened to have found themselves participating in. For all four participants, however, their English abilities have served, throughout their lives (since elementary school in most cases), to differentiate them from others, making someone who is good at English (relative to their peers) an integral part of their identities. All of them also associated English with upward mobility and considered it an essential tool for making one's voice heard in the world today.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/23765
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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