Social Construction of Language Learners: A Bakhtinian Analysis of EFL Learners’ Subjectivity in the Multilingual Context of Pakistan

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Imdad Ullah Khan
Ayesha Perveen
Akifa Imtiaz

Abstract

ESL/EFL scholarship has traditionally adopted a cognitivist and psychoanalytical approach towards learning a language based on the premise that languages are abstract unitary systems. In recent decades, however, there has been a greater emphasis on the role of social, cultural, and autobiographical factors in language learning. Bakhtin’s socially-oriented philosophy of language offers a useful lens to view EFL learning as a situated activity and EFL learners as multidimensional social actors who configure their English learning trajectories within broader social and institutional factors. Based on a broader ethnographic study, analysis in this article takes a Bakhtinian perspective to understand how multilingual EFL learners in northern Pakistan construct their identity at the intersection of social, domestic, and future-oriented factors. The analysis shows that local languages, school, and family language policies, and imagined Englishspeaking communities have significant implications for learners' orientation
and motivation towards learning EFL. The article suggests that responding to
the social turn in applied linguistics, EFL classroom, and pedagogy in
Pakistan needs to broaden its purview to support individual learners
effectively negotiate their complex learning trajectories and build empowering
learner identities.

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Author Biographies

Imdad Ullah Khan

Department of English and Foreign Languages, University of Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Ayesha Perveen

Department of English, Virtual University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Akifa Imtiaz

Department of English, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.