Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Karen Pennesi


This research examines identity in relation to the Korean language learning experiences of non-Korean and ethnic Korean learners. Based on participant observation and interviews done in Toronto and an international online survey, I use a language-ideological perspective to look at why and how people choose to learn (or not learn) a particular language. Specifically, I analyze how nationalist, functionalist and cosmopolitan language ideologies position learners in various ways and in turn, affect their sense of ethnic, cultural and other forms of identity. I show how these ideologies are interrelated and have different effects on how the identities of non-Koreans and ethnic Koreans are constructed based on their respective statuses as outgroup and ingroup members learning Korean. This research provides a better understanding of the motivations behind heritage and minority language learning, and suggests a less homogeneous conceptualization of heritage language learners.