Narratives of second language identity amongst young English learners in Hong Kong

Sharon Besser, Alice Chik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports on an exploratory study responding to the problem of understanding how young learners position themselves as speakers of a foreign language. A group of 24 Hong Kong primary-school children (ages 10-12) who are in the process of simultaneously learning English and developing narratives of identities as English speakers, participated in a photo-elicitation project. Two distinct narratives of identity were found. 'Cosmopolitans' seemed to draw on multiple resources, largely based on their access to the social and economic benefits of using a great variety of English learning opportunities and popular culture media. 'Pragmatists' had fewer resources and were more uncertain about their future learning opportunities. This study demonstrates the importance of considering how educational policy, cultural values, and distribution of resources may impact on young learners studying in similar contexts. Implications are explored and suggestions made for ways teachers can support and foster identity development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberccu026
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalELT Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Narratives of second language identity amongst young English learners in Hong Kong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this