Identity and English Language Learning: The Case of Pakistani Elementary Students in Saskatoon
Amble, Chetan Alias Ameya Chandrakant
The purpose of this thesis was to examine identity construction and language learning/use among newly immigrated Pakistani English as Additional Language (EAL) students attending an elementary school in Saskatoon. In recent years, increasing numbers of new immigrants to Canada have come from non-English speaking countries (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2011). For most of these new immigrants, English proficiency is seen as a crucial factor in their professional development and societal integration in an English-speaking host country like Canada. Some new immigrants who come from non-English speaking countries such as Pakistan encounter challenges in the host country, in spite of successful English training in the countries of origin. In the case of families from Pakistan who come to Canada under skilled immigrant categories, for instance, they assume that when they arrive in Canada, they can succeed in both their professional and social life in a foreign culture, given that they were educated in English in their home country. To their surprise, they most often face discrepancies between their expectations and reality after they immigrate to Canada. This thesis examined the identity construction and language learning/ use of four Pakistani immigrant students at a Saskatoon elementary school. An ethnographic research approach was used to conduct this study. The study aimed to identify some of the challenges faced by Pakistani EAL students attempting to integrate into the Canadian schools, despite having good second language (L2) proficiency. Findings from this study show that social categories such as race, religion, gender, and social class tend to influence processes of socialization in students, which in turn have effects on their identity construction and language learning/use. Just as English learning is never only about language, so is being judged as a competent and valued social being is never only about L2 competence (Norton, 2013). The study also shows how gaining “legitimacy” (Bourdiue, 1991) as a competent and valued social being is never just a matter of L2 competence even for EAL students with relatively high English proficiency (Bourdieu, 1987; Shin, 2012). EAL learning for these Pakistani immigrant students involves a complex process in which racial, religious, gender, and class identities are negotiated within a wide variety of social relationships. The thesis concludes with implications of this research for transformative EAL education in Canada.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteePushor, Debbie; Schmidt, Clea
Copyright DateMarch 2016