“Stories from No-Man’s Land?” Situated language learning through the use of role models in the context of international Higher Education

Haines, K., 2012, In : Apples : Journal of Applied Language Studies. 6, 1, p. 1-22 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

This article discusses the value of role models in the language acquisition process of international students following an English as Medium of Instruction (EMI)
programme in the Netherlands. Narrative interpretations of qualitative data
provide insights into the identity work involved in the use of role models and the
impact that this work has on the participation of learners in their core learning
community and other communities. The article compares the use of role models in the cases of three students. These learning experiences were recorded through
Language Learning Histories (Murphey, Chen & Chen: 2004), semi-structured
interviews and journal entries. Analysis is grounded in the theory of situated
learning, taking Communities of Practice (Wenger 1998) as the main conceptual
framework. The article also draws on related perspectives from within the field of
Second Language Acquisition (SLA), notably a heuristic understanding of Activity
Theory (Lantolf & Pavlenko 2001; Ivanič 2006) and ‘person-in-context’ (Ushioda
2009). Narrative interpretations of language learning experiences are shown to
provide understandings of the impact of local educational practices on learner
participation in and across learning communities. These interpretations highlight
the need for greater transparency and awareness of the tensions intrinsic to
participation in language learning communities. These tensions are exemplified in
these three cases by the learners’ use or non-use of role models, which is of
particular relevance in the broader context of their experience outside the classroom setting. Such research provides an opportunity to incorporate learner perspectives in curriculum design and evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalApples : Journal of Applied Language Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • communities of practice, role models, narrative, situated learning, person-in-context
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