Linguistic and cultural identity : Finns who have been through English immersion education
The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of English immersion education on the linguistic and cultural identities of Finns, with a view to understanding the interaction between English second language acquisition and identity. In-depth, semi- structured interviews were conducted with seven graduates from the English School in Helsinki, all of whom have Finnish parents and studied through English for most of their childhoods. The study addresses the question of whether acquiring and speaking English as children causes Finns to identify with non-Finnish linguistic and cultural communities, such as native English speaking communities. This is particularly relevant considering the growing use of English in Finland and the role of English as an international language. The study found that English had an important place in the lives of the English School graduates: it emerged as a ‘thought language’, a community language, and a means for accessing certain roles within the Finnish community. However, the graduates did not identify with native English speakers either linguistically or culturally. They considered English an international language, they considered themselves speakers of international English, and they considered English to be a transcultural influence rather than the influence of any native speaking culture. Although they viewed themselves as more internationally orientated than other Finns due to their English School background, they strongly reaffirmed their Finnish cultural identity, expressing their identification with Finnish cultural values and communicative norms. ...
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