Mahmoud Qaracholloo Photo: Pia Nordin
Mahmoud Qaracholloo. Foto: Pia Nordin

Abstract

After the fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty, the new Iranian political system considered English instruction a grave threat to the Iranian and Islamic identity (Kiany, Mahdavy & Samar, 2011). Accordingly, its instruction on the public curricula was exclusively confined to grammar and reading components, at the expense of sociocultural aspects (Borjian, 2013). However, the urge of the new world order favoring ubiquitous access to different forms of capital and social media (Kramsch, 2013) have motivated Iranian English learners to show a fanatical devotion to communicative English learning at private language institutes, leading to the immense popularity of these centers (Mohammadian Haghighi & Norton, 2016; Nasrollahi Sharri, 2017).  

Taking on the Common European Framework of Reference (Council of Europe, 2001) as their main pedagogical framework, these institutes have flourished into learner-centered arenas holding with self-monitoring and goal-setting principles, whereby the integration of learning, assessment, and teaching endorses a simultaneous exertion of the dynamics for both language learning and identity negotiation (Little & Ericson, 2015). Likewise, laying on social constructivist and sociocultural theories (Vygotsky, 1978), they have developed into communities of practice where various aspects of L2 identity are prone to negotiation and reconstruction.

Despite its long research strand going back to the 1960s, L2 identity has undergone extensive investigations only in adult-migrant and study-abroad contexts, putting foreign language context out of the limelight (Block, 2007). In like manner, no study of the type has explored Iranian English learners’ identity within private language institutes. In response to this shortcoming, this study is an attempt to present a general portrait of Iranian English learners’ identity status and structure, and the way they construct and reconstruct their L2 identity through weblog-mediated negotiations.   

In so doing, first, the existing literature was studied for the main dynamics of L2 identity in language institutes. Then, the extracted dynamics were used to develop a questionnaire, some interview questions, and weblog negotiation topics. The data out of the questionnaire administered to 338 language learners from different proficiency levels was analyzed through running descriptive statistics and confirmatory factor analysis to show the participants’ identity status and structure. In the next phases of the study, 12 beginners, and 12 advanced learners who are recruited as the focus group will be assigned to four subgroups of six members to take part in semi-structured interviews before and after weblog negotiation to explore how their identities are negotiated and reconstructed microgenetically.

References

Block, D. (2007). Second language identities. London, UK: Continuum.

Borjian, M. (2013). English in post-revolutionary Iran: From indigenization to internationalization. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kiany, G. R., Mahdavy, B., & Samar, R. G. (2011). Towards a harmonized foreign language education program in Iran: National policies and English achievement. Literacy Information and Computer Educational Journal, 2(3), 462-469.

Kramsch, C. J. (2013). Afterword. In B. Norton, Identity and language learning: Extending the conversation (2nd ed., pp. 192–201). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Little, D., & Erickson, G. (2015). Learner identity, learner agency, and the assessment of language proficiency: Some reflections prompted by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Applied Review of Applied Linguistics, 35, 120-139.  

Mohammadian Haghighi, F., & Norton, B. (2016). The role of English language institutes in Iran. TESOL Quarterly, 51(2), 428-438.

Nasrollahi Sharri, M. (2017). Constructing a voice in English as a foreign language: Identity and engagement. TESOL Quarterly, 52(1), 85-109.  

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bio

Mahmoud Qaracholloo is a doctoral researcher in applied linguistics at Allameh Tabataba’i University of Tehran. His supervisors are Dr. Zia Tajeddin and Dr. Fahimeh Marefat. He has an MA in applied linguistics and a BA in English language and literature from Tehran University. His research interests are sociolinguistics, sociopragmatics, and specifically second language identity. The ways second or foreign language learners establish, negotiate, and reconstruct their self-system in contact with another language is of utmost importance to him. He is generally interested in unraveling the social and psychological factors when it comes to learning a second or foreign language.