Identity Construction in Learning English Academic Writing in a Japanese University

James Mckinley

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16 Citations (SciVal)


The construction of writer identity in English L2 academic writing is not usually explicitly addressed in such writing classrooms, yet it plays a significant role for English L2 students learning to write in academic genres. This study investigates the influences on the construction of writer identity by Japanese university students in Japan learning English academic writing, with consideration given to what selves they exhibit in their writing, and how much those selves were shaped by their learning experiences in a required writing course. A total of sixteen students and their four teachers participated in the yearlong study, involving an analysis of students' written texts, supported by monthly student and teacher interviews and classroom observations. The text analysis was done using Clark and Ivanič's (1997) possibilities of selfhood as the main framework, operationalizing Martin's (2000) Appraisal framework for identifying the different selves. Findings showed that the strongest influences on identity construction were from instructors' expectations, while personal beliefs also contributed. The findings also showed that students were more likely to meet writing task expectations where instructors had more reasonable requirements in terms of voice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-243
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of Asia TEFL
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • writer identity
  • L2 writing


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