Title

Creating Research Space for Invisible Communities: Using Visual Methodology and Discourse Analysis to Uncover Adult Immigrant Identity and Agency

Location

3033

Format Type

Paper

Format Type

Paper

Start Date

January 2016

End Date

January 2016

Abstract

This study explores the ways in which adult immigrants with limited literacy skills acquire English and use visual methods to embody some of the challenges of a migrant life, including constituting their identities in the target language community while learning literacy and maintaining their first languages. On a methodological level, I discuss how arts-based educational research and visual methodologies, such as photovoice and photo elicitation interviews in combination with microanalysis approaches, such as positioning analysis (Davies & Harré, 1990) can help uncover the lived experiences of adult immigrants whose SLA process is poorly understood and not widely studied. Participants in a community-based English class took photographs of their literacy and L2 practices and engaged in interviews and class discussions about their challenges that prevent them from learning English. Findings reveal that deficient views on immigrant learners and self-ascribed and other-ascribed identities hinder their access to linguistic capital. Learner-created multimodal narratives transcend linguistic boundaries and create opportunities for identity reconstruction and meaning making, revealing the transformative potential of arts-mediated learning. The knowledge this process generated is discussed in terms of its potential to question traditional SLA theories that privilege alphabetic literacy, suggesting that adult immigrants’ learning can be reframed around the concepts of multimodality and translanguaging. Compared to other qualitative research methods, multilevel analysis of visuals and texts offers a more insightful, nuanced, and equitable approach for language educators and researchers to explore adult learners’ layered narratives of agency, identity, SLA and include these learners’ voices in research and classroom.

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Creating Research Space for Invisible Communities: Using Visual Methodology and Discourse Analysis to Uncover Adult Immigrant Identity and Agency

3033

This study explores the ways in which adult immigrants with limited literacy skills acquire English and use visual methods to embody some of the challenges of a migrant life, including constituting their identities in the target language community while learning literacy and maintaining their first languages. On a methodological level, I discuss how arts-based educational research and visual methodologies, such as photovoice and photo elicitation interviews in combination with microanalysis approaches, such as positioning analysis (Davies & Harré, 1990) can help uncover the lived experiences of adult immigrants whose SLA process is poorly understood and not widely studied. Participants in a community-based English class took photographs of their literacy and L2 practices and engaged in interviews and class discussions about their challenges that prevent them from learning English. Findings reveal that deficient views on immigrant learners and self-ascribed and other-ascribed identities hinder their access to linguistic capital. Learner-created multimodal narratives transcend linguistic boundaries and create opportunities for identity reconstruction and meaning making, revealing the transformative potential of arts-mediated learning. The knowledge this process generated is discussed in terms of its potential to question traditional SLA theories that privilege alphabetic literacy, suggesting that adult immigrants’ learning can be reframed around the concepts of multimodality and translanguaging. Compared to other qualitative research methods, multilevel analysis of visuals and texts offers a more insightful, nuanced, and equitable approach for language educators and researchers to explore adult learners’ layered narratives of agency, identity, SLA and include these learners’ voices in research and classroom.