A Case study on interactional co-construction of identities in an EFL classroom

Demir Bektaş, Melike
Identity, conceptualized as a social construct, has found its way into SLA research after Firth and Wagner (1997) and Block (2003 ) made their call for a social turn in the field. Drawing on poststructuralist ideas of learning, Norton (1995, 2000, 2013) has established her social theory of identity in SLA, which sees ‘identity’ as multiple, as a site of struggle and as changing over time. Adopting this view, many researchers have published on the ties between identity and language learning (see Norton & Toohey, 2011); however, there is still a need for identity research evidenced by real classroom interactions coming from local contexts of EFL classes. Addressing this gap, this study aims to understand how various identity positions are co-constructed within interaction in an EFL context and how these positions affect language learning processes of the students. Informed by Positioning Theory (Davies & Harré, 1990), a conversation analytic approach is used in order to analyse the video recordings of 17 hours of an Upper-Intermediate level English preparatory class at a private university in Ankara, Turkey. The analysis shows two students as focal cases as their identity construction and negotiation are different from other students. It is found that positioning oneself or being positioned in certain ways in the sequential organization of interactions, such as knowledgeable, attentive, indifferent, silent, funny and so on, come to create students as certain beings, affect the ways that interactions unfold in classroom, and create consequences for participation opportunities. It is hoped that this study will contribute to identity research in Turkey, first, by providing evidence to the relevancy of ‘identity’ as a subject of inquiry at the intersection of discourse and language learning studies, and second, by applying discourse analysis (Positioning and Conversation Analysis) in order to study identity as a social construct.
Citation Formats
M. Demir Bektaş, “A Case study on interactional co-construction of identities in an EFL classroom,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2015.