Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Shelley K. Taylor


This is a narrative study of Hong Kong post-secondary students’ English learning experiences, focusing on: i) the meanings that the student participants attached to their English learning; and ii) their identity (re-)construction during the course of English learning. Theoretically informed by Norton’s (1997, 2000) work on identity and English learning, this study pays particular attention to how the interactions within the participants’ English classroom have shaped and informed their English learning experiences and their English learner identities. A multi-method approach was adopted in order to capture a more complete picture of post-secondary students’ English learning. Data collection techniques included pre-interview questionnaires, interviews with student participants and post-interview classroom observations. The collected data were used to develop a narrative of each student’s English learning. The narratives were used to demonstrate the connections between the various stories told by each participant and how they made meaning of their English learning. A thematic analysis of the data was also conducted to highlight both common and idiosyncratic aspects of Hong Kong post-secondary students’ English learning. Findings demonstrate that the participants constantly (re-)constructed their identities as situated and multiple in accordance with their immediate and imagined learning communities. Their investment in English learning was inextricably tied to their prior learning experiences, multiple identities, and hopes and desires for the future. Through documenting students’ lived English learning experiences, this study helps raise post-secondary English language educators’ awareness of students’ prior English learning and multiple identities so as to provide students with the support and help they need.