Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Academic Discourse Socialization, Scaler Politics of English, and Racialization in Study Abroad: A Critical Autoethnography

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Academic Discourse Socialization, Scaler Politics of English, and Racialization in Study Abroad: A Critical Autoethnography

Article excerpt


"It was nice talking with you, Pramod! Your English is very good, and I appreciate that there was no grammatical inaccuracy in your language use. However, I noticed you occasionally used a nonstandard variety of English that we don't often use."_

This is a response from an interviewer that I received as part of my application for teaching English at an English language institute in Vancouver. Although I was offered to teach parttime, such a comment has been very usual in my life after I left Nepal in 2013.

Born to working-class parents and brought up in a small village in Nepal, pursuing a Ph.D. degree at one of the world-leading universities in Canada is something I had never thought about until I went to study for a MA in TESOL with Applied Linguistics program in the United Kingdom in 2013. However, my journey as an English language learner and teacher has not been very smooth, especially after I moved to the United Kingdom, where my identity as a non-native speaker became a source of contestation, discrimination, and stress. I have learned and used English since my childhood and taught English for about a decade in several countries, yet the authenticity of my English use is oftentimes challenged. I believe my English use has changed at various degrees with my mobility from one country to another. For example, the type of English that I used in Nepal was largely changed after I moved to the UK; during my three years of stay, I worked very hard to fit myself into the local linguistic community. And, now that I am living in Canada, I think there have been some changes in my attempt to fit into the Canadian linguistic community. Yet, my English language identity of "Other" persists, leading to various forms of discrimination.

Over the last few decades, the number of study abroad (SA) students has hugely increased in the thrust of internationalization of higher education. In the field of English language teaching (ELT), there is a high demand of internationally accredited degrees in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), which is motivating many English language teachers from non-Anglophone countries to sojourn to Anglophone countries where they aim to develop both their teaching skills and English proficiency. This was also my motivation to pursue a master's degree in TESOL from an English-speaking country, so I would upgrade myself professionally as well as provide honor to my parents with a degree from the UK. The surge in SA has received huge attention among applied linguists to investigate the process of target language learning during sojourns, including language learners' beliefs (Amuzie & Winke, 2009), motivation (Allen, 2010), identity negotiation/construction (Ai, 2016; Jackson, 2008; Kinginger, 2004, 2008, 2013), lastingimpact (Garbati & Rothschild, 2016), and second language socialization (Wang, 2010) in SA. Applied linguistics researchers have adopted a number of methodological orientations to record SA experiences; however, there is a lack of critical autoethnographic research that potentially captures the everyday lived experience as well as power dynamics among different individuals and groups that are hard to address through conventional research methods (Adams, Ellis, & Jones, 2017).

In this article, using critical autoethnography as a research method, I reflect on my personal experience of English language learning in SA, focusing on the intersectionality of identity (as a non-native speaker of English from a third world country), language socialization, and the hierarchical ideology of English. Against the traditional focus on "product," Wang (2010) suggested to orient the contemporary SA investigation to the "process," which focuses on what actually happens before, during, and after the sojourn. Following Wang's (2010) suggestion, this critical autoethnographic study responds to the trajectory of my English language learning and academic discourse socialization before, during, and after my study abroad. …

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