EFL University Students' Journey in Claiming Their Foreign Language Identity

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran



Identity and agency, based on the related literature, are the central parts of any learning activities, especially for language instruction. Following a mixed-methods design, identity options and their related indicators were studied among EFL university students. To this end, a sociodemographic-based questionnaire and four writing tasks were utilized as the instruments, which were filled out by 334 EFL university students. The data were then analyzed through a six-phase thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Having deployed a concurrent transformative strategy, the researchers transformed the extracted codes and themes into numbers, then analyzed them descriptively and inferentially. The results of the study showed that five identity options were dominant among the participants. Four identity indicators of "native language", "gender", "major", and "proficiency level" were also found to significantly correlate with the five identity options and affect their intensity and salience. Our findings demonstrated that language learning is a process of constant and continuous negotiation of self-positioning and repositioning. The study also showed that identity options are determined by students' past trajectories, social and relational contexts, challenges, and cultural-based shared perceptions. The study suggests that learners' identities and histories are strategically implemented in pedagogy to develop a supportive space for the students to exploit their potential.