Foreign Language Competence and Self-Identity Changes: Chinese Students in a Study-Abroad Context

The objective of this study is to examine the Chinese foreign language learners' self-identity (re)formation in a study-abroad context. It is also significant to check if Chinese English learners demonstrate more positive transformation and reconstruction of their identities in contexts where English is used as a lingual franca, or do they encounter more difficulties confronting the culture of the host country different from that of the English speaking countries.

This study is a longitudinal multiple cases design, employing qualitative research methods. Fifteen Chinese postgraduate students who are to study in Germany in the next few years will participate in the study. They will be classified into ELF-user group and German-and-English-user group according to their self-perceived competence and their daily use of English and German, respectively.

The data collection process consists of a series of 3 interviews (30 min-2 hrs) with each participant. E-mails as supplementary methods will also be adopted after each rounds of interviews.

The data are analyzed following the principles of the grounded theory method. The process of data analysis in the field begins immediately on the first day after the data gathering process, and three levels of codes will be generated.