We somehow survive


Gujarati women
social class
second language learning


Second language learning involves affective factors such as interactions with the dominant linguistic and cultural group, and related problems of self-concept, identity, and self-esteem. Substantial attention has not been paid to these categories in the field of earlier studies of second language acquisition. In recent years however, there has been increasing research on the relationship between second language learning and the question of identity. The lives of immigrant women, particularly of ethnic minority, may be complicated not only by gendered and systematic inequalities but also cultural conflicts which makes them struggle to define and redefine their identity. It is important to raise awareness of perceptions of immigrant women learning and speaking the language of the host community as their experiences intersect with race, gender and class, and contribute to their identity formations. Drawing on the poststructuralist notion of identity as “multiple, changing, and a site of struggle” (Norton and Toohey 2011, p. 412 Butler 1990; Weedon 1997, p.21) and Norton’s (1997) work on identity and investment, this paper examines the relationship between the process of learning English as a second language and social class, and analyses the construction gender identity of Gujarati women upon migration to the UK. It further underlines how the inability to speak English for migrant women is further complicated by inequities brought about by classed structures, private/public patriarchy and processes of ‘othering’. External life experiences and personal relationships are integrally linked to linguistic confidence and identity formation/subjectivities. This study aims to understand from a sociolinguistic perspective the dynamics of Gujarati women’s identities across different migrations and patterns of settlements in the UK.

Copyright (c) 2023 The Journal of Law, Social Justice and Global Development


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