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Title: The social construction of age in adult Mexican English language learners : an exploratory study
Author: Andrew, Patricia Jean
ISNI:       0000 0004 2695 550X
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis investigates the social construction of age in the context of English foreign language learning in Mexico. Specifically, it looks at how adults of different ages experience learning a new language and how they enact their age identities as language learners. By approaching the topic from a social constructionist perspective and in light of recent work in sociolinguistics and cultural studies, this study broadens the current second language acquisition (SLA) focus on age as a fixed biological or chronological variable to encompass its social dimensions. What emerges is a more complex and nuanced understanding of age as it intersects with language learning in a way that links it fundamentally to other social phenomena, such as gender, ethnicity and social class. The research design, a multiple case study, uses a combination of narrative inquiry, semi-structured interviews, audio-taped narrative accounts, and classroom observations to explore the construction of age by a group of adults studying English at a Mexican university. The analysis of the data reveals that (1) the enactment of age and the construction of a language learner identity, whether in the classroom or outside it, have greater salience in particular moments or interactions than in others, (2) the experience of learning a language varies according to each person's position in the lifespan and involves both linguistic and non-linguistic dimensions, and (3) the age identity of foreign language learners is closely interwoven with their other subject positions. The findings suggest that, while narratives of age in contemporary Mexican culture are drawn from the prevalent age discourses of Western society in the main, some important differences exist in the construction of adulthood in present-day urban Mexico. As a conclusion, the thesis reflects on the repercussions that taking a social view of age has for classroom teaching practices as well as for research in the area of second language acquisition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available