Visiting 'home': contacts with the homeland, self-reflexivity and emergent migrant bilingual identities

Alan Williams, Charlotte Setijadi-Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been increasing interest recently in the way that additional language learners' identities are affected and changed by their experiences in developing proficiency in another language. In the case of migrants, this is also affected by familiarity with their new country and language, and their transition into life in a new social and cultural environment. National and linguistic elements of identity are only part of people's multifaceted identities. However, these are of particular significance for language teachers and central to identity shifts involved in language acquisition and settlement in a new country. We present data from two adult EAL (English as an additional language) learners' accounts of their developing bilingual identities in the Adult Migrant Education Program (AMEP). In particular, we focus on one student's self-reflexivity as she described how her experiences of travelling back to her homeland of People's Republic of China (PRC) contributed to the development of her emerging bilingual identity. This is supported by a shorter extract from a Colombian student's experience, as she described her difficulties in communicating something of her Australian experience to her family in Colombia. The study suggests ways in which language teachers can assist their adult immigrant learners to explore this aspect of their growth as bilingual speakers in their new language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-56
Number of pages17
JournalTESOL in Context
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • bilingual identity
  • language proficiency
  • self-reflexivity
  • teaching


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