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Identity and Language Learning Extending the Conversation Author: Bonny Norton

Paperback - 232 pages
04 Oct 2013
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


Identity and Language Learning draws on a longitudinal case study of immigrant women in Canada to develop new ideas about identity, investment, and imagined communities in the field of language learning and teaching. Bonny Norton demonstrates that a poststructuralist conception of identity as multiple, a site of struggle, and subject to change across time and place is highly productive for understanding language learning. Her sociological construct of investment is an important complement to psychological theories of motivation. The implications for language teaching and teacher education are profound. Now including a new, comprehensive Introduction as well as an Afterword by Claire Kramsch, this second edition addresses the following central questions:

- Under what conditions do language learners speak, listen, read and write?

- How are relations of power implicated in the negotiation of identity?

- How can teachers address the investments and imagined identities of learners?

The book integrates research, theory, and classroom practice, and is essential reading for students, teachers and researchers in the fields of language learning and teaching, TESOL, applied linguistics and literacy.


Strengthened by the thorough updates in the new Introduction and the context provided by Kramsch in the Afterword, the book makes a persuasive case for language teachers to regard our learners and their investments in a more holistic light. It may also shed some illumination on our experiences as L2 learners ourselves.

- JALT Journal, 37.1, May 2015
- Anna Husson Isozaki, Gunma Prefectural Women’s University, Japan

In sum, this book is of great value to readers who are familiar with Norton’s work as well as to those who are encountering it for the first time. For graduate students, this book is a must-read, because it provides initial knowledge about identity research and a good example of narrative inquiry. For researchers and educators, this second edition is also a helpful resource; the compelling introduction and the inspirational afterword spur readers to dwell on those “unsettling issues” (p. 19) in identity theory regarding the relationship between societal structure and human agency, identification and negotiation, multiplicity and strategic essentialism.

- TESOL Quarterly, 2015
- Haiying Feng, University of International Business and Economics, China

The book is invaluable for both novice and experienced SLA researchers and scholars interested in inquiring about language learning and identity. Norton has successfully combined international literature on SLA, identity, and social justice with pedagogical suggestions to create a volume that effectively takes a step forward in bridging the gap between research and pedagogy on language learning and learner identity in ESL environments. Even though these chapters center on language learning in ESL context, practitioners working with other languages could benefit from the findings and pedagogical implications. 

- LINGUIST List 25.3857
- Andrea Lypka, University of South Florida, USA

Author Biography:

Bonny Norton is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Canada. She is committed to social change through the power of ideas and the integration of theory, research, and practice. In 2010 she was the inaugural recipient of the “Senior Researcher Award” by the Second Language Research group of AERA (American Educational Research Association) and in 2012 was inducted as an AERA Fellow. Her website can be found at http://www.educ.ubc.ca/faculty/norton/

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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