Daryl Johnson

MA Education TEFL dissertation prize winner 2012

Daryl JohnsonAn Investigation of the Impact of Three
Postgraduate Chinese Students’ Identities
and their Lived Experiences on their
Learning of English in the UK

'Knowing what fantastic research came out of this year's TEFL MA course, I was elated to have been one of the three students awarded the Dissertation of the Year Award. This recognition is incredibly flattering, but this achievement would not have been possible without the guidance and support of my tutors, supervisor and peers, for which I am sincerely grateful. I've made some wonderful friends this year and had the honour of studying alongside some truly inspiring lecturers who have provided the skills necessary for me to pursue my ambitions as a doctoral student with confidence.'


This dissertation consists of three case studies and is an investigation of the impact of three, female Chinese postgraduate students’ identities and lived experiences on their learning of English during their Period of Study Abroad (PSA) in the UK. This study sought to understand the specific means by which the participants engaged with a process of identity negotiation within their given fields, and exploring their stimuli for embarking on these processes. The data were analysed in light of the poststructuralist approach, primarily exploring the participants’ dynamic identities in terms of Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field and capital. Investigating the participants’ experiences was illuminative of their positioning, investment and agency, which were found to have a direct impact on their L2 use and acquisition. This qualitative study utilized semi-structured, stimulated recall interviews as the primary data collection tool, which were then analysed thematically discovering that the participants experiences of education and social networks were most influential in their identity negotiation. It was found that due to the language ideologies the participants had subscribed to prior to their arrival in England, they were each subject to unequal power relations, and due to each participant’s unique habitus, they each engaged differently with their various encounters in a foreign environment. Ultimately, the participants responded to their restricted learning opportunities depending on the extent to which they found it necessary to achieve their goals, and secondly on their perception of their ability to circumvent the issues they faced.