The Social Construction of Age: Adult Foreign Language Learners

Author: Patricia Andrew

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Multilingual Matters
Number of pages:
234mm x 156mm

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This book explores the social construction of age in the context of EFL in Mexico. It is the first book to address the age factor in SLA from a social perspective. Based on research carried out at a public university in Mexico, it investigates how adults of different ages experience learning a new language and how they enact their age identities as language learners. By approaching the topic from a social constructionist perspective and in light of recent work in sociolinguistics and cultural studies, it broadens the current second language acquisition focus on age as a fixed biological or chronological variable to encompass its social dimensions. What emerges is a more complex and nuanced understanding of age as it intersects with language learning in a way that links it fundamentally to other social phenomena, such as gender, ethnicity and social class.

In this beautifully written and highly readable book, Patricia Andrew elaborates an incisive critique of the Critical Period Hypothesis, before proposing an innovative social constructivist approach to research examining the interrelationship between age and additional language learning. Drawing on an exploratory study of adult English language learners in Mexico, she eloquently shows how age is an eminently complex identity inscription, emergent in a wide range of life experiences, and inextricably linked to other identity inscriptions, such as gender and social class.

David Block, University of London, UK

This elegantly written and accessible book is an invaluable counterweight to studies in second language learning which view age exclusively in biological terms. In understanding age as also socially constructed, this book sheds much-needed light on the experiential and identity-related aspects of second language learning, while drawing attention to the centrality of factors such as social class, gender and ethnicity. It will appeal not only to second language researchers, but to all teacher educators and teachers interested in exploring the social dimensions of second language learning.

John Gray, Institute of Education, UK

Andrew's presentation and organization of her study make it an enjoyable read. The book is well organized to include concise previews and summaries of each section. The data excerpts and narratives of the seven learners make it an insightful exploration of age discourse within the L2 classroom, within a classroom setting, and as an exemplar of age studies.

Trini Stickle, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA on the LINGUIST List 24.1518 (2013)

Patricia Andrew is Professor of Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, and English as a Foreign Language at the National University of Mexico. Her research interests include identity construction, sociocultural perspectives on second language acquisition, and age studies.

Introduction: A First Glimpse of Age
Part I Framing Age as Socially Constructed
Chapter 1 The Age Factor and Second Language Acquisition
Chapter 2 Present-Day Approaches to the Study of Age
Chapter 3 Viewing Age through a Social Constructionist Lens
Part II The Social Construction of Age in Mexico
Chapter 4 Constructing Age in Later Adulthood
Chapter 5 Constructing Age in 'Middle' Adulthood
Chapter 6 Constructing Age in Young Adulthood
Final Reflections

Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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