Opportunities to speak: A qualitative study of a second language in use

Kolstrup, K. L., 2015, [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 180 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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  • Kirsten Lundgaard Kolstrup
This dissertation provides insights into why people are motivated to learn – and continue learning – a second language. It demonstrates this through an in-depth case study of Mulenga, a Zambian woman who married a Dane with a 9-year-old daughter.
Mulenga’s decision to move to Denmark is driven by dreams of ‘a better life’ with ‘a more romantic man’, a double desire that echoes previous studies of marriage migrants moving from the third to first world. Unfortunately the lived reality of her new life, from her relationship, to job prospects, interaction with Danes, and government policy doesn’t live up to her hopes, leaving her frustrated and without a clear vision for life in Denmark going forth. This hinders her motivation to learn Danish, which hampers her development in the language classroom. Conversely, her determination to continue speaking Danish at home is much stronger, anchored in a well-defined image of herself as a valued stepmother who wants to support her new 9-year-old stepdaughter.
This research reveals the importance of looking beyond the individual and the classroom when searching to understand the complexity of an immigrants’ motivation to learn and use the language of their new country. To understand how this changes over time, interview data, observation of the language classroom, naturally-occurring conversations in the home, and changes in Denmark’s immigration policies are analysed and compared. This project’s findings have profound implications for pedagogical approaches to second-language learning as well as government policy on the role of language in social integration of immigrants.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Bot, de, Cornelis, Supervisor
  • Thorne, Steven L., Co-supervisor, External person
  • Dörnyei, Zoltan, Assessment committee, External person
  • Redeker, Gisela, Assessment committee
  • Wagner, Johannes, Assessment committee, External person
Award date4-Jun-2015
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-6203-836-3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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