I Want to be Successful: Identity and Investment in Language Learning Among Adult Refugees with Interrupted Schooling

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

Casey Keck and Gail Shuck


There are currently about 22.5 million refugees in the world and every year tens of thousands of them are resettled in the United State. Many of these refugees have had interrupted formal schooling because they did not have access to education for several years. This complicates the process of second language acquisition and educational attainment. Research on adult immigrants learning English as a second language suggests that changes in identity, desires, and efforts play an important role in the language acquisition process (Norton 2000). Much less is known, however, about adult refugees with interrupted formal schooling. To address this gap, the proposed study examines identity and investment among adult refugees at a university in the Pacific Northwest region in the United States. Using a case study methodology, I investigated what role interrupted formal schooling might play in identity and investment among refugee language learners in universities. Methods of data collection included interviews and artifact collection. For data analysis, I drew on Bonny Norton’s concepts of identity and investment in language learning. I anticipate that this research will identify multiple perspectives on identity and investment in a refugee context and has important implications for future research, teaching, and policy.

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