Multilingualism, Transnationalism and Identity Reconstruction

Author: Jane Jackson (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Speakers: Jane Jackson, Tongle Sun, Yanty Wirza
Topic: Narrative and Metanarrative
CALA 2020 Colloquium Session

Panel Abstract

Throughout Asia, more and more institutions of higher education are increasing opportunities for both undergraduates and postgraduates to gain international educational experience. To better understand the L2 socialization, (inter)cultural learning, and identity reconstruction of participants, applied linguists in various contexts are tracking the developmental trajectories of student sojourners and creating richly detailed case studies. In their work, contemporary scholars are paying more attention to transnationalism, that is, ‘the crossing of cultural, ideological, linguistic, and geopolitical borders and boundaries of all types but especially those of nation-states’ (Vertovec 2004, 2009) (Duff 2015: 57) and identity reconstruction (Darvin and Norton 2015). The close examination of the ‘lived experiences’ of study abroad participants is helping to demystify the complex intersections among language, culture, identity, and transnationalism. In addition to theory-building, research of this nature is providing useful direction for pedagogical interventions.

For this Colloquium, the chair will begin by drawing attention to the significance of qualitative research on academic mobility, and briefly explain the core constructs that underpin the studies that will be discussed. Ms. Tongle Sun will then present a cross-case analysis of Mainland Chinese undergraduates from a Hong Kong university (STEM majors) who joined a semester-long international exchange program in an English-speaking country. In her talk, attention will center on the individual and external variables that appeared to affect the participants’ L2 identities and transnational perspectives. Pedagogical implications will be summarized. In the second presentation, Dr. Yanty Wirza will explain her use of narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly 2000, 2006) to investigate the transitions of Indonesian postgraduates from Indonesian universities who participated in a semester-long study abroad program in the United States. Attention will be drawn to the multiple variables that influenced the identity reconstruction, L2 development, and transnational experiences of her participants. She will also briefly discuss implications for the pre-sojourn preparation and on-going support of second language postgraduates in similar programs. In the third presentation, Professor Jane Jackson will ‘unpack’ the oral and written narratives of semester and yearlong international exchange students from a Hong Kong university who were enrolled in an online intercultural transitions course that was designed to encourage meaningful engagement in the host environment. Through various means, the participants disclosed their evolving L2 identities and transnational experience. A cross-case analysis revealed interesting individual and environmental differences that contributed to divergent learning paths. Ample time will be allotted for discussion.

Keywords: transnationalism, multilingualism, identity reconstruction, case study, academic mobility, L2 socialization