2021 Gruener Research Travel Award Recipient, Seojin Park, Second Language Acquisition & Teaching GIDP

The Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDP) started the Raphael and Jolene Gruener Research Travel Award in 2011. The Grueners have been tireless supporters of interdisciplinary research and education at the University of Arizona. They are also well known for their love of travel. The Gruener Research Travel Award will support awards that fund student research travel, bringing together these two passions of the Grueners.

The award is intended to offset some of the costs associated with international or domestic travel expenses such as airfare, and meals. This is a meritorious award and will be granted on the competitive and innovative content of the statement submitted with the application. Awards are contingent upon the availability of funds. Students are eligible to receive a total of $1,000 per award year. Students may submit only one application per award year during the open application session: mid-February - mid-March.

Seojin is a doctoral candidate in the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching GIDP Program. For the Gruener Research Travel Award, Seojin plans to visit South Korea to perform her research project titled "English Learner Identity and Positioning: A Case Study of North Korean Refugees in South Korea". 

Project Summary 

This qualitative case study aims to explore the North Korean refugee students’ experiences as English learners and (re)construction of their English learner identities in relation to various ideologies in South Korea, and how they can further affect their English learning. Under the global dominance of it, English is considered to be one of the most important foreign languages to acquire for material success in South Korea. However, previous studies have revealed that many North Korean refugees perceive English as one of the biggest obstacles at their universities in South Korea (Park & Kim, 2014). Recognizing the importance of English for the refugees to successfully adapt to South Korean society, there have been some studies aimed to understand their English learning experiences in South Korea (Jung, 2009; Kim, 2012; Kim, 2013; Park & Kim, 2014). While they could reveal various difficulties that refugees faced when they learn English in South Korea, little attention has been given to the relationship between English ideology and their learner identity, and how it affects the process of English learning. Given the impact that identity has on a student's second language learning, the current study aims to fill this gap by exploring positionings and identity formation of five North Korean refugees in South Korea. The present study addresses four research questions: 1) How do North Korean refugees position themselves to learn and use English in the new cultural context? 2) What interactive (other-) positions become available to North Korean refugees and are taken up by them in their narratives and classroom talk? 3) What intersectional identities are constructed in the narratives of North Korean refugees and English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom discourse? 4) How do North Korean refugees’ identity negotiation process (if any) as English learners influence their investment in English learning and membership in the classroom and the new cultural context?

Last updated 11 May 2021