Learner Identity and Learners’ Investment in EFL Learning: A Multiple Case Study

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Education Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University


Existing research on learner identity stresses a need to explore how the way one perceives oneself as an EFL learner has impacts on his or her investment in the endeavor to learn English. Likewise, examining the factors that influence identity and investment in EFL learning is also essential. In the present study, data were triangulated to explore the way three Chinese college English major students negotiated and navigated identity in the process of English learning. The findings indicated that the learners displayed identity flux within and across various communities. Learner identity shaped their investment in English learning, and vice versa. Learner identity, which can be negotiated and constructed over time, is complex and dynamic, involving at least four factors, which include learners’ cognitive awareness/ideology; perceptions of affordances in English learning community; learners’ sense of agency; and mismatches between the practiced community and the imagined community. Pedagogical implications and areas for ongoing research are discussed.