Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Teaching and Learning
First Committee Member
Steven G. McCafferty
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Fifth Committee Member
Number of Pages
The purpose of this sociocultural study was to analyze the longitudinal process of identity development of international graduate students as their lives unfolded across time and experience in the second languaculture. Furthermore, it was aimed at exploring what role is attributed to second language in this process. The study relied on the mainstream sociocultural perspectives on individual development that originated from Vygotsky’s work and were further elaborated by his followers to address the issues of identity and language development of second language learners. As part of such perspectives, it integrated the unit of perezhivanie into the examination of individual experiences in a new languaculture and explored how perezhivanie as related to different aspects of such experiences figured in transforming identity and second language development. The dissertation employed qualitative methodology, such as in-depth interviews, reflection journals collected over the course of five months, and a focus group, to explore the experiences of five individuals and how the participants made meaning of themselves with regard to such experiences in the context of the U.S. The findings are discussed in relation to the participants’ experiences with second language issues, navigation between cultures, academic practices, and personal life, which appeared to play prominent roles in their identity development in the second languaculture. The data revealed that the issues related to the second language were particularly meaningful indicators of identity development of the non-native speaking graduate students. However, such issues figured differently in each participant’s identity. In some cases, the meanings that the individuals attributed to their English language competence changed over time as a result of internal work of consciousness in the process of perezhivanie. Furthermore, it was found that the individuals’ intentions to adjust in the second languaculture did not necessarily imply that they were willing to adapt to it by absorbing new cultural forms. Instead, in some cases, they were able to find their safe place and restore a psychological equilibrium in the new cultural context by engaging with the cultural practices of their native country that were available to them in the context of the U.S. The data also revealed that the participants’ engagement with academic activity, as a meaningful aspect of their emotional experiences, played a prominent role in their overall identity formation in the U.S. and allowed them to integrate into the broader culture of the U.S. Finally, the participants’ emotional experiences in the second languaculture depended much on their intentionality to engage with informal social networks in the context of the U.S. It was also found that the female individuals’ inability to realize goals in personal life evoked strong emotions and internal conflicts that shaped their perceptions of themselves and the surrounding world in the ways not found for the male participants.
Identity; International Students; Perezhivanie; Second Language; Vygotsky
Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Psychology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Dema, Alexandra, "The development of language and identity: A sociocultural study of five international graduate students living in the U.S." (2015). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2471.
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