Situating language learner selves in context: Theoretical, empirical, and practical implications

March 24, 2018 – March 27, 2018 all-day

While traditional views of second language acquisition (SLA) typically acknowledge a role for the contexts in which language learning occurs, contexts and learners are nonetheless treated as separate entities within a one−directional relationship, in which the external (i.e., contexts) acts upon the internal (i.e., learner characteristics) (Mercer, 2015, 2016; Ushioda, 2009, 2015). However, the ‘dynamic turn’ in SLA research has increasingly questioned this view and argued for a conceptual shift towards considering individuals’ dynamic interactions with diverse contexts in which the learner and his/her environment are in an ongoing, mutually influential relationship (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015; Larsen−Freeman, 1997, 2015; Ushioda, 2009, 2015). Under this view, contexts are conceived at both micro− and macro−level scales that include cognitive, social, cultural, pedagogical, physical, and temporal factors (Dörnyei, MacIntyre, & Henry, 2015; King, 2016; Larsen−Freeman & Cameron, 2008).

Over the last decade, the construct of second language (L2) motivation has received the most theoretical and empirical attention in this realm, primarily within Dörnyei’s socio−dynamic L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, 2005, 2009; Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2009), which seeks to understand motivational dynamics of possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986) in relation to context and temporal fluctuation (Dörnyei, MacIntyre, & Henry, 2015). While this model has spurred significant research output in the last 10-12 years (Al−Hoorie, 2017), studies have almost exclusively been conducted in instructed contexts of English as a second/foreign language (ESL/EFL). This crucial gap limits our understanding of the range of potentially relevant contextual factors that interact with how learners perceive and construe their possible selves within different learning environments, such as study abroad (Irie & Ryan, 2015) and heritage contexts (Kurata, 2015), and in relation to other target languages, like Chinese (Xie, 2014) and Spanish (Serafini, In Press).

The goal of the current colloquium aims to contribute to closing this gap by fostering productive dialogue around the need to contextually situate learner selves in relation to relevant historical, psychological, social, cultural, and pedagogical factors that characterize contexts where target languages other than English are under study. In this vein, the present call for proposals invites original conceptual, empirical, methodological, and practically–oriented work that sheds light on the dynamic, co−adaptive nature of context and learners’ self-concept in order to not only gain theoretical and methodological insight but also practical insight for educators working in a variety of settings (e.g., Lasagabaster, Doiz, & Sierra, 2014).

2nd Call for Papers:

Please consider submitting a proposal to participate in a colloquium organized around the theme: ‘Situating language learner selves in context: Theoretical, empirical, and practical implications’. Proposals should consist of a title (20 words), an abstract (300 words), and a summary (50 words) and should be submitted in a single PDF to Ellen J. Serafini ( by July 1, 2017. Authors of selected submissions will be notified by July 15, 2017.

We welcome submissions for paper presentations that (i) approach their topic of inquiry from a dynamic theoretical perspective; (ii) explore motivational phenomena in relation to macro– and/or micro–level contexts and timescales; (iii) investigate possible selves in a range of contexts including, but not limited to, instructed or naturalistic L2/FL/heritage settings, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), immersion, study abroad, service learning, etc.; (iv) study participants learning several different target languages; and (v) utilize quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods approaches to address research questions.

We look forward to receiving your submission!

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