While studies on English as a foreign language (EFL) students’ identity construction and classroom participation in English language learning have been widely explored, there is a paucity of research addressing how EFL students with physical disabilities develop their identities within classroom participation. To fill this lacuna, the present narrative study looks into how an Indonesian female English student with a physical disability developed her identity through classroom participation and how her identity changed over time. The data were garnered through in-depth interviews and analyzed following Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis. The present study revealed that the participant negotiated her identity gradually in a complex classroom atmosphere through multiple stages: the orientation, the rising state, the shock, the adjustment, and identity development. In addition, the study also portrayed that the participant enacted continued and sustained identity changes for her self-survival amid imperfection into the escalation of competence geared from her site of struggle in the community of practice. Implications from the study’s findings are discussed at the end of this paper.


EFL student, identity construction and changes, physical disability, second/foreign language learning, situated learning

Author Bio(s)

Emy Sudarwati (corresponding author) is a lecturer in the Department of Languages and Literature, Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, East Java, Indonesia. She is now pursuing her doctorate degree in English Language Teaching, Universitas Negeri Malang, Indonesia. She has published research papers in national and international journals. Email: emoy_sanyoto@ub.ac.id.

Utami Widiati is a Professor in English Language Teaching (ELT) in the Department of English, Faculty of Letters, Universitas Negeri Malang, Indonesia. She obtained her professorship in the area of literacy learning in 2009. Her research interests include foreign language literacy, SLA, curriculum and material development, and teacher professional development. She has been active in pre- and in-service teacher education and professional development in Indonesia and has written secondary school English textbooks prescribed by the Indonesian government. She has published extensively in the area of English Language Teaching. Email: utami.widiati.fs@um.ac.id

M. Faruq Ubaidillah teaches in the Department of English Education, Universitas Islam Malang, Indonesia. He is currently undertaking Doctor by Research in the Department of Language Education Science, Faculty of Languages and Arts, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Indonesia. His research interests include identity in language learning and the use of narrative inquiry in second/foreign language education research. Email: mfubaidillah@unisma.ac.id

Luluk Sri Agus Prasetyoningsih is an Associate Professor in the Department of Indonesian Language Education, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Universitas Islam Malang, East Java, Indonesia. She has been involved actively in researching issues of language learning with special needs students in Indonesia for more than 20 years. She can be contacted at luluksap58@unisma.ac.id.

Urip Sulistiyo is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Education, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Universitas Jambi, the Province of Jambi, Indonesia. He has published extensively in reputable international journals. Email: urip.sulistiyo@unja.ac.id


This study had no financial supports from any parties. We are heartily indebted to the participant in this study who had given time for the interview and shared feelings and experiences with us. We also want to thank all parties who supported us to conduct the research. Additionally, we would like to say many thanks to the reviewers and The Qualitative Report for giving us a chance for publishing our research article.

Publication Date


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