Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Imagined Destinations: The Role of Subjectivity and the Generative Potential of Lived Experiences in Adult English Learners' Paths to Fluency
by Palumbo, Christine, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2015, 205; 3731939
Abstract (Summary)

Focusing on a Vygotskian theory of cultural historical psychology, this dissertation features a narrative analysis to examine the role of subjectivity and the generative potential and agency manifested in Non Native English Speaking Teachers’ (NNESTs) successful development of L2 (English) fluency. My research creates another view of a Vygotskian theory by means of the imagination. Building on a cultural-historical approach, I conducted a qualitative analysis of how these teachers’ pathway to fluency evolved from their Imagined Destinations. This term is defined as a goal or objective in the mind of the learner that mediates, and is mediated by, his or her lived experiences.

The concept I coin as Imagined Destinations surfaced in my three initial pilot cases and took shape while working with NNES Panamánian teachers, from the analysis of online survey data with 27 of these experienced teachers, and detailed case study analyses of the language learning of eight of these teachers. These data revealed how participants dynamically create and recreate their environments through agentive roles that support the transformation of their environments to advance their goals.

These transformations have implications for how subjectivity, agency, and acquisition of the target language intertwine throughout the participants’ lived experiences or pathways to learning, thus providing an additional way to look at subjects and subjectivities within a Vygotskian theoretical frame. The findings also indicate that teachers’ language trajectories are continuous, emergent, and the result of taking on very deliberate ecological roles in their bilingual success despite recurring salient and limiting circumstances. These findings about the centrality of Imagined Destinations in learning “smudges” the perception that societal power outweighs the dynamic and agentive roles of individuals as active molders of their lives.

Finally, this dissertation also seeks to enrich scholarship by demonstrating how NNESTs use their bilingual identities built from their trajectories to bilingualism as ways to influence and inspire their own students’ second language learning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moll, Luis, Tardy, Christine
Commitee: Ariew, Robert
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Second Language Acquisition and Teaching
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 77/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: English as a Second Language, Adult education, Teacher education
Keywords: Cultural historical psychology, Imagined destinations, Second language learning, Sociocultural theory, Subjectivities, Vygotsky, Lev
Publication Number: 3731939
ISBN: 978-1-339-18523-1
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