Imagined Communities, Identity, and English Language Learning in a Multilingual World
Book chapter by Bonny Norton and Aneta Pavlenko in Second Handbook of English Language Teaching by Xuesong Gao (ed.), 2019.
This chapter discusses the construct of “imagined communities” as a way to better understand the relationship between second language learning and identity. It is argued that language learners’ actual and desired memberships in “imagined communities” (Anderson B, Imagined communities: reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. Verso, London, 1991) affect their learning trajectories, influencing their agency, motivation, investment, and resistance in the learning of English. These influences are exemplified with regard to five identity clusters: postcolonial, global, ethnic, multilingual, and gendered identities. We discuss the relevance of “imagined communities” for classroom practice in English education and conclude with a reflection on the future of English language teaching in our increasingly multilingual global community.