Identity construction through English language learning in intra-national migration: A study on Uyghur students in China

Xiaoyan Grace GUO, Ming Yue Michelle GU

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2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study explores how a group of Uyghur minority students construct their identities in and through English language learning experiences as they move from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to study in a prestigious East coastal university in China. The research findings show that the processes of English language learning enable the ethnic minority students to develop multiple yet powerful identities, that is, a situated elite identity constructed as opposed to other Uyghur members and a positive heritage identity negotiated within the academic community, and allow them to imagine multilingual and multicultural memberships for themselves. The favourable identities thus forged are found to facilitate their adaptation to the host community. However, these minority elites are confronted with a series of problems in learning English compared to their Han counterparts, which hinder their socialisation into the society and upward social mobility. Finally, implications for policy-makers, the host institution, and ethnic students are discussed. Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2430-2447
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume42
Issue number14
Early online dateJul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Citation

Guo, X. G., Gu, M. M. (2016). Identity construction through English language learning in intra-national migration: A study on Uyghur students in China. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42(14), 2430-2447. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2016.1205942

Keywords

  • Identity construction
  • English language learning
  • Intra-national migration
  • Uyghur minority students
  • China