Languages in Relation: A Narrative Inquiry into Second Language Development and Support in the Context of Multilingual Couplehood
Yim, Soo Yeon
Date: 30 September 2014
University of Exeter
PhD in Education
The current thesis aims to explore issues regarding the development and support of second languages when two individuals from different linguistic backgrounds come together in romantic, intimate, and meaningful relationship. Based on a thorough conceptualisation of multilingual couplehood and its place within the interdisciplinary topic ...
The current thesis aims to explore issues regarding the development and support of second languages when two individuals from different linguistic backgrounds come together in romantic, intimate, and meaningful relationship. Based on a thorough conceptualisation of multilingual couplehood and its place within the interdisciplinary topic of intercultural relationships and marriage, this exploratory study seeks to highlight the issues pertaining to communication, and even more precisely, language, how this impacts individual and couple identity, and its significance in multilingual couple contexts The study and presentation of the research is built on the foundation of a relational philosophy of being and knowing, particularly in line with Gergen’s (2009) understanding of ‘being-in-relation’. Arguments are presented for a relational ontology and epistemology in hopes of identifying the merits of this perspective, and to promote what I consider a more fitting understanding of identity, relationships, and second language education. On this theoretical basis, the study adopts the qualitative methodological approach of narrative inquiry to investigate the meaning of language, relationship, and identity in the contexts of four self-identified multilingual couples currently living in the UK. Data was collected by means of three stage interviews: one with each individual of the couple and a final interview with both partners present. The audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and subjected to a two-stage narrative analysis. The findings have uncovered a wide variety of issues regarding intimate relationships and matters related to the development and support of second languages. While it is clear that each couple has differing attitudes and perceptions of multilingual couplehood, and ways of addressing them, there are some commonalities that have emerged, particularly in regards to the negotiation and sharing of languages, which has appeared to be a very complex issue in terms of the manifestation of language support and learning motivation within the couplehood. It has also been found that there are various ways in which partners develop and create their multilingual couple identities, which affects and also is affected by the linguistic and cultural identities of the individuals themselves. It is clear that second language development and support is a fundamentally relational process in the intimate context of couple relationships, as the detailed narratives of the couples and their linguistic journeys are highly revealing of what is clearly a complex, intricate, and relational ongoing process.
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