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DESTINATIONS: AN ANALYSIS OF SLA SUCCESS THROUGH THE IMAGINATION

Abstract

Focusing on a Vygotskian theory of cultural-historical psychology, this article 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 second language (L2) fluency. My research takes another view of Vygotskian theory by considering the imagination. Taking a cultural-historical approach, I conducted a qualitative analysis of how NNESTs pathways to fluency evolved from their Imagined Destinations. Imagined Destinations is defined as a goal or objective in the mind of the learner that mediates and is mediated by his or her lived experiences.  From the analysis of online survey data with 27 Panamanian NNES teachers and a detailed case study analysis of the language learning of eight of these teachers, the concept I coin as Imagined Destinations surfaced. These data revealed how participants dynamically create and recreate their language learning trajectories that support the transformation of their environments to advance their L2 learning goals. These transformations have implications for how factors of the environment and goal setting intertwine throughout the participants’ lived experiences “through the processes of collaboratively transforming the world in view of their goals” (Stetsenko, 2008, p. 471). Findings 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 research 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.

Keywords: agency; imagined destinations; sociocultural theory; second language learning; sociocultural theory; subjectivities; generative potential

Keywords

agency, imagined destinations, sociocultural theory, second language learning, subjectivities, generative potential

How to Cite

Palumbo C., (2016) “DESTINATIONS: AN ANALYSIS OF SLA SUCCESS THROUGH THE IMAGINATION”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 23(0). p.36-54.

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Authors

Christine Palumbo (University of Arizona)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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