National identity in EFL learning: A longitudinal inquiry

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This article draws on a longitudinal study of four Chinese students' English learning experiences during their college years and explores the ways in which EFL learning has influenced their sense of national identity. The study captures the changes they have experienced in constructing identities over a prolonged period in the context of mainland China where strong sense of national identity has been historically promoted and where there is currently unprecedentedly close interaction between local cultures and western cultures. Drawing on interviews and diary studies as the primary data source, this study identifies a three-stage development in the national identities of the college students that proceeds from initial admiration of English-speaking cultures, to antagonism towards alien things, before then reaching a stage of conciliation between the national and the global. The findings suggest that China's deeply-rooted culture of collectivism and altruism plays a role in shaping English learners' national identity and that the learners also demonstrate considerable agency in constructing national identities at different stages of English learning. Copyright © 2010 The editors of Changing English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
JournalChanging English
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


Gu, M. (2010). National identity in EFL learning: A longitudinal inquiry. Changing English, 17(1), 57-67.


  • National identity
  • Chinese students
  • EFL learning


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