The Impact of Students’ Future Imagined Identities on Their English Language Learning in an EFL Context: The Case of English for Law

  • Leila Benseddik

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research project aimed at finding out ways of improving the teaching of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) by investigating the impact of students’ imagined future identities on their English language learning. The context for the present research project is an English for Law module offered to Postgraduate students of law in Algeria where I had an experience as an English tutor. The study employed an action research approach in three phases: Planning, Acting and Reflecting. Through these phases a number of research methods were used including: interviews with English teachers and faculty staff, classroom observation of several English sessions, implementation of pilot activities, teacher field notes and focus groups with students. This research project drew on Norton’s (2000-2010) understanding of English learners’ identity and its impact on language learning. The findings of this research revealed that while in the classroom, students construct future images of themselves, referred to as imagined identities. The study also found that a focus on such imagined identities impacts positively on students of law English learning process; leading them to invest in the practices of English and seeking membership in their future communities as both lawyer-users of English and professional-users of English. In addition, the findings also offer more understanding to ESP tutors to extend their evaluation to their students as either motivated or unmotivated, to focus on their investment in learning through their identity changes and the images they have of themselves and who they want to become. Noticing that could significantly help the tutors to select meaningful tasks, to create a better environment of learning, and to lead the course to achieve its objectives.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorSimon Sneddon (Supervisor) & Dave Burnapp (Supervisor)


  • Legal English
  • students’ identities
  • Action research

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