Identity re/construction of cross-cultural graduate students
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This research explores the identity reconstruction of graduate students in additional language (AL) contexts. It addresses not only the issue of language proficiency in self-representation, but also more complicated factors that influence self-positioning and perceived social positioning in an additional culture, as well as ways of establishing the self in academic writing. The research is grounded in language learning theories in second language education and identity theories in linguistics, sociology, and cultural studies. Eleven graduate students participated in the study, among whom five were international students at a Chinese university and six were Chinese students at a Canadian university. Data were drawn from a questionnaire, writing samples, interviews, and email correspondence. Commonalities and divergences were found between groups and within groups. I developed a framework of writer identity for AL graduate students prior to the study and modified it in the discussion. Based on the data, I elaborated on the connections of personal identity and writer identity, and conceptualized for AL speakers a mediated space incorporating home culture and host culture but going beyond the overlap of the two, as well as a mediated self that is achieved through negotiation with the available options in their respective social context.