Classroom Participation as a Performative Act of Language Learners’ Identity Construction

Open access


In the first part of this study, we briefly present different approaches used to define the concept of second language learners’ identity. Then we introduce Butler’s theory of performativity (1988) and we attempt to apply its main concepts as tools for describing L2 learners’ identity. In the second part of the study, we try to answer the following question: What are typical performative acts of a good and a poor language learner in the language learning classroom? Our research suggests that performing a good language learner identity refers to the learner’s frequent and repetitive participation in utterances whose content is related to the language classroom, regardless of the chosen communicative resources. As for performing a poor language learner identity, it appeared that it refers to the learner’s repetitive and frequent participation in utterances whose content is not related to the language classroom, regardless of the chosen communicative resources.

Austin, J. L. (1970). Quand dire, c’est faire. Paris: Editions du Seuil.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). The economics of linguistic exchanges. Social Science Information, 16(6), 645–68.

Butler, J. (1988). Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory. Theatre Journal, 40(4), 519-531. doi: 10.2307/3207893

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. New York, London: Routledge.

Duff, P. A. (2012). Identity, agency, and second language acquisition. In Gass, S. M. & Mackey, A. (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition (pp. 410-426). London: Routledge.

Hall, J. K. (1993). The role of oral practices in the accomplishment of our everyday lives: The sociocultural dimension of interaction with implications for the learning of another language. Applied Linguistics, 14(2), 145-165.

Lalonde, R. N., Lee, P. A., & Gardner, R. C. (1987). The common view of the good language learner: An investigation of teachers’ beliefs. Canadian Modern Language Journal, 44, 16-34.

Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural Theory and The Genesis of Second Language Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (1997). How Languages are Learned (7th Impression). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Charos, C. (1996). Personality, Attitudes, and Affect as Predictors of Second Language Communication. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 15(1), 3-26. doi: 10.1177/0261927X960151001

MacIntyre, P. D., & Noels, K. A. (1996). Using psychosocial variables to predict the use of language learning strategies. Foreign Language Annals, 29, 373-386. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.1996.tb01249.x

Naiman, N., Frohlich, M., Stern, H.H., & Todesco, A. (1978). The good language learner. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29 (1), 9–31. doi: 10.2307/3587803

Norton, B. (2000). Identity and Language Learning: Gender, Ethnicity and Educational Change. Singapore: Pearson Education Limited

Norton, B., & Toohey, K. (2001). Changing perspectives on Good Language Learners. TESOL Quarterly, 35(2), 307-322. doi: 10.2307/3587650

Rogoff, B. (1994). Developing understanding of the idea of communities of learners. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1(4), 209-229. doi: 10.1080/10749039409524673

Rubin, J. (1975). What the “Good Language Learner” Can Teach Us. TESOL Quarterly, 9 (1), 41-51. doi: 10.2307/3586011

Rubin, J., & Thompson, I. (1982). How to be a more successful language learner. Belmont: Heinle, Cengage Learning.

Searle, J. R. (1996) [1972]. Les actes de langage: Essai de philosophie du langage. Paris: Hermann, Editeurs des sciences et des arts.

Weedon, C. (1997). Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. Second Edition. London: Blackwell.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Interaction between Learning and Development. In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman (Eds.), Mind and Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes (pp. 79-91). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 134 134 25
PDF Downloads 47 47 12