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Identity and Language Learning in Study Abroad



Identity, and related conflict, can influence both qualities of language learning experiences in study abroad settings and learners' choices of language to appropriate or reject. The article offers an overview of research examining the role of identity in student sojourns abroad. This research includes (1) holistic, qualitative studies of the ways in which identities shape language learning opportunities, and (2) studies examining the development of specific, identity-related pragmatic abilities. After defining identity and study abroad, the researcher organizes this article in terms of salient demographic categories represented in the literature: nationality/“foreigner” status, gender, linguistic inheritance, age status, and ethnicity. Where possible, examples of both holistic and pragmatics-oriented research are included for each category. The conclusion suggests implications for language education and the design of study abroad programs along with some avenues toward greater ecological validity in research of both kinds.