Adrienn Fekete

University of Pécs, Hungary;


Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal.     Volume 2020-2(4).  (Re-)Shaping One’s Identity with Language, pp. 84-99



The paper examines Hungarian English majors’ emotional and identity responses to second language acquisition (SLA) and proposes that the two are inherently linked. The theoretical underpinnings of the study draw on the holistic post-structuralist approach that looks at learners in their entirety and complexity (Kramsch 2009) and language learning as an embodied experience (Damasio 1994) that can be more or less transformative for the learner. The participants’ multilingual identities are mapped in terms of desire (Kristeva 1980) and pain (Lacan 1977) in SLA, imagination (Anderson 1983), symbolic language use (Kramsch 2009), and conceptual blending (Fauconnier & Turner 2002). The paper is based on a multiple case study that involved 31 English majors as participants from the University of Pécs, in Hungary. Data were collected via a structured written task that contained three open-ended questions about the participants’ language learning experiences and preferences. The questions addressed the participants’ emotional and identity responses to SLA. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis in an iterative manner. The findings confirmed that language learners respond emotionally to language learning and these emotional responses shed light on their identities associated with SLA. The magnitude of the learner’s transformation resulting from SLA corresponds to the magnitude of their emotional responses, shaping their multilingual identity accordingly. Emotions were frequently captured with the help of metaphors as a result of conceptual blending. Three recurring emotional responses emerged from the data addressing the experience of desire, pain, and freedom associated with English learning.

Keywords: identity, emotions, post-structuralist research, imagination, desire in SLA, symbolic pain, conceptual blending

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