Multiple Perspectives on the Self in SLA

Edited by: Sarah Mercer, Marion Williams

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Multilingual Matters
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234mm x 156mm

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Instead of viewing different perspectives on the self as competing with each other and considering one perspective on the self as being inherently 'better' than another, this book takes the view that a fuller, more comprehensive picture of the self in SLA can be gained by examining and combining insights from different perspectives. This original collection of papers thus attempts to provide a thorough overview of the ways in which the self can be conceptualised in SLA contexts. The editors have brought together a diverse range of theoretical perspectives on the self to allow the reader to appreciate the insights that each approach contributes to overall understandings of the self in the domain of second language acquisition and foreign language learning.

The work collected and edited by Mercer and Williams fills important gaps and
discrepancies between major theories and brings a fresh and different perspective to the field of SLA with the crucial ideas, future directions, and debates it poses. The work brings the theories together to build toward a comprehensive perspective. The book is a very valuable one, especially for graduate students who are looking for conceptual clarity in constructs of the self.

Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 16:1

Overall this is a highly informative volume written in an accessible manner. It has great potential to educate a wide range of readers such as postgraduate students, researchers and language teachers. For these reasons, I echo the enthusiastic praise on the back cover in my evaluation of this edited volume. It is definitely one of the most informative and useful handbooks for readers looking for ideas associated with the 'self' in research and teaching. It is a must-read for those interested in knowing more about the constructs associated with the self in language learning and teaching. 

Independence 67 IATEFL, July/August 2016

The main strength of the volume lies without doubt in its diversity as the editors have successfully managed to bring together a multiplicity of perspectives on the self in SLA, show the ways in which these perspectives can be reconciled and illustrate how they can provide a point of reference for future empirical investigations in this area. The book constitutes an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the study of the language learner's self, be they graduate or doctoral students, or researchers seeking to gain further insights into this fascinating domain.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this insightful volume and I highly recommend it to researchers and students who are interested in the application of self-constructs to the study of SLA. Researchers will appreciate the valuable contribution that the book makes towards more conceptual clarity among the myriad of self-constructs that SLA research has come to entertain, the cogent discussions of past research and original research, as well as the implications for future work in the area. Students with an interest in research on the self in SLA will value the chapters in this book for their accessible and succinct style, their clear structure, the concise literature reviews and the annotated miniature bibliographies, which recommend three key titles that are pertinent to the chapter content.


Along with identity studies, research focusing on the construct of the self has grown rapidly in recent years. These studies have been carried out from a range of theoretical and methodological standpoints. This volume shows that, far from being a weakness, theoretical and methodological diversity is a strength. As such, it is a welcome addition to the growing number of publications that challenge narrow conceptualisations of research in SLA.

David Nunan, Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics, University of Hong Kong

The self has become an increasingly important focus for many areas; it is being highlighted in psychology, philosophy, neurobiology and very prominently, in research on language acquisition. This volume presents a rich variety of studies related to the self, bringing in many ways in which language and the self are intertwined and showing how a greater awareness of the self can lead to more effective language learning.

Jane Arnold, University of Seville, Spain

The history of 'self' in studies of second language identities is a somewhat uneven one and what has always been missing is the big view – not a single monolithic account of this area of research, but a collection of the variety of ways there are to go about it. In this timely book, the editors bring together prominent scholars who provide the reader with a wide range of angles on the construct (from self-efficacy to self-esteem) and offer a stimulating snapshot of the state of play as regards self in second language identities research.

David Block, Institució Catalana de Recerca I Estudis Avançats, Universitat de Lleida, Spain

Sarah Mercer is Lecturer at the University of Graz, Austria. She has been working in ELT in Europe for over 15 years and currently researches in the area of language learning psychology, with particular interest in aspects of the self. Her recent publications include Towards an Understanding of Language Learner Self-Concept (2011, Springer).

Marion Williams was previously Reader at the University of Exeter and is currently Chair of the Academic Board for INSTILL Education. She has 40 years' experience of working at all levels of ELT internationally, is a long-standing member of the ELT Journal editorial board and is a former president of IATEFL.

1. Sarah Mercer and Marion Williams: Introduction to Multiple Perspectives on the Self
2. Nicole Mills: Self-efficacy in SLA
3. Sinthujaa Sampasivam and Richard Clément: The Dynamics of Second Language Confidence: Contact and Interaction
4. Fernando Rubio: Self-Esteem and Self-Concept in Foreign Language Learning
5. Bonny Norton: Identity and Poststructuralist Theory in SLA
6. Chantal Hemmi: Dual Identities Perceived by Bilinguals
7. Florentina Taylor: Relational Views of the Self in SLA
8. Stephen Ryan and Kay Irie: Imagined and Possible Selves: Stories We Tell Ourselves About Ourselves
9. Ema Ushioda: Motivational Perspectives on the Self in SLA: A Developmental View
10. Georg Northoff: Brain and Self: A Neurophilosophical Account
11. Sarah Mercer: The Self from a Complexity Perspective
12. Sarah Mercer and Marion Williams: Concluding Reflections

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