This article reports on an interpretative inquiry into 14 tertiary vocational students' educational experiences on the Chinese mainland with a focus on their strategy use in learning English. Using sociocultural theory, the inquiry reveals the profound impact that the learning context had on the research participants' strategy use. The data reveal that the participants' exam-oriented learning strategies were at the core of their efforts to pursue desirable identities in a competitive academic environment. They also indicate that the participants' strategy use was closely associated with an internalized sociocultural discourse that conceived learning as the means to achieve social mobility. Pedagogic practices that often imposed markers on the participants and tense peer relationships that prevented the participants from adopting alternative strategies were found to be 2 important motivators for the participants' adoption of their exam-oriented learning strategies. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
CitationGao, X. (2008). You had to work hard 'Cause you didn't know whether you were going to wear shoes or straw sandals! Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 7(3/4), 169-187.
- Sociocultural theory
- Language-learning strategy
- Tertiary vocational education
- Chinese mainland