What students talk about when they talk about reading: a study of self-concept in reading in a second or foreign language
Walker, Carolyn Rosemary
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Intention to publish in one or more journals
The self, the self-concept and identity are contested areas in various domains of enquiry. In cognitive psychology, the self is seen as a powerful explanatory construct. Indeed, in the education context, self-concept has been associated with achievement and motivation, though sociocultural approaches have highlighted the failure of certain schools of thought to take account of contextual and relational self processes. Nonetheless, despite the importance of the concept of self for learning, it has only fairly recently become of significant interest in the field of second or foreign language learning (L2). This longitudinal study focuses on the nature of, and changes in, students’ L2 reading self-concepts. In order to navigate the complexity of the theoretical issues surrounding the self construct, the approach of Rom Harré (1998) was adopted in which the self is seen as a frame for the discourse of personal attributes, reflexive self-beliefs and action. This perspective underpinned a mixed methods approach to enquiry with a group of international students taking a nine-month business pre-masters pathway programme. Based on the work of Pollard and Filer (1996), a framework for the narrative description of L2 reading self-concept was devised which provided a broad account of self-views of L2 reading, showing how these are linked in important ways to personal histories and the situational context. It was found that perception of competence was the main area of L2 reading self-concept change. Findings also included the importance of competence perceptions and the role of language knowledge in distinguishing L2 reading self-views. It is hoped that the model of L2 reading self-concept developed will enhance understanding of students’ experience of reading and learning through a second or foreign language. This should enable educators to support students more effectively, especially in international education contexts in which students study through another language. Areas for further research into L2 reading self-views in this type of context are suggested.
EdD in TESOL