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Emerging Self-Identities and Emotions: An Exploratory Study of Ten Saudi Students’ English Writing Experiences

Almesaar, Oun Fahad O (2019) Emerging Self-Identities and Emotions: An Exploratory Study of Ten Saudi Students’ English Writing Experiences. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

While there is a growing body of empirical research on identity development and the role of emotions in the emergence of L2 possible selves, very little is known about these issues when it comes to Saudi students. This thesis aims to understand the processes of identity construction among Saudi Arabian students by exploring their past, present and future learning/writing experiences and their effect on L2 possible self and identity. The study pays particular attention to the role of experience and emotion and the way they influence and shape Saudi students’ perception of themselves as English writers over time and in various contexts. The study also takes a closer look at the writings of Saudi learners by analysing metadiscoursal features used in their writing samples. This empirical work is exploratory in nature collecting various types of data including a pre- interview questionnaire, two semi-structured interviews, diaries, think aloud protocols, and writing samples. Four types of analyses were conducted including content, thematic, narrative and metadiscourse analyses. Findings indicate that participants shared a similar learning trajectory in Saudi Arabia that was generally negative. They associated emotionally negative states with their English learning experiences occurred in Saudi, partly due to its teaching style. These emotions seemed to be responsible for students’ lack of personal investment, motivation, and effective learning, to the point where they felt they had learnt nothing during those years. In college, there were two types of experiences: those who pursued English studies and saw their L2 possible selves strengthens alongside their skills, and those who pursued non-English related studies and continued to manifest undeveloped L2 self and poor language skills. In the UK, all participants had a positive learning experience and their language skills improved significantly. Their L2 learning experiences played a huge role in the construction of possible selves and in reactivating and creating the desire to become better and more successful writers for most participants. The analysis showed that participants’ views of themselves kept on shifting and changing due to their academic circumstances and emotional states. Findings reinforced the idea that academic writing was, at the beginning, principally an emotional experience. The initial period within the master’s programme were recalled as involving a great amount of negative emotions. The novelty of the environment apparently boosted the frequency or intensity of these states. The emotional intensity apparently decreased with time due to increased familiarity, experienced ease and positivity. Positive emotions were more often associated with motivational and self-confident states, triggering participants’ willingness to continue to succeed. The results revealed various aspects regarding Saudi students’ academic writing. Being in the UK was a factor that participants thought to have a significant impact on improving their writing skills. Some participants also experienced improvement while studying in Saudi Arabia. This suggests that sometimes it was not the country but the people within the pedagogic system (students with initiative or teachers) that can make the difference. As for the metadiscourse analysis, there were no important differences between the participants. It was found that participants in soft sciences slightly employed more metadiscourse in their writing, which is expected due the need in being more explicit in explaining, discussing and arguing their claims.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Oun Almesaar
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 14:14
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 14:14
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24564

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