A quadripolar model of identity in adolescent foreign language learners

Taylor, Florentina (2011) A quadripolar model of identity in adolescent foreign language learners. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Integrating several psychological theories (e.g., self and identity, self-presentation and internalisation, possible selves and self-discrepancy, developmental processes in adolescence), this thesis proposes a new theoretical framework aiming to facilitate a better understanding of foreign language learning. The Quadripolar Model of Identity postulates the existence of four self components (private, public, ideal and imposed), whose pluridirectional interactions may lead to four types of self system (submissive, duplicitous, rebellious and harmonious) hypothesised to differ from one relational context to another (e.g., school, family, friends). For students, these identity processes are expected to fluctuate depending on the subject studied.

A preliminary validation of this new theoretical framework in foreign language learning, the study reported here represents a mixed-method cross-sectional investigation with 1,045 participants (mean age 16.47; 339 boys, 645 girls, 61 of undeclared gender) learning English as a foreign language in five Romanian secondary schools of different specialisms. Of the 1,045 students who completed a new purposefully-designed self-reported questionnaire, 32 participated in individual in-depth interviews, the quantitative and qualitative findings being integrated into a meta-inferential discussion.

The results offered consistent support for the Quadripolar Model of Identity, while also facilitating invaluable unexpected insights. Students’ appreciation as individuals was found to predict the nature of their self system in class, while being also related to their perceived competence in English, their affective affinities with the foreign language, their learning orientation and their attributions for success and failure. In the absence of personal appreciation, an assessment-driven ethos was found to stimulate the manipulative display of various public selves that had little connection with the students’ private selves. Teachers were identified as the principal motivator in the English class and differences in perceived teacher interest were associated with gender differences in perceived L2 competence and context-induced identity display. Implications for research and teaching practice are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mullany, L.J.
Harvey, K.
Keywords: Adolescence, Foreign Language Learning, Identity, Relational Contexts, Self System
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 11931
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2011 13:27
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2017 21:29
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11931

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