Vol 7 No 1 (2016)

Autobiography and Second Language Self Talk: Truth, gender, and identity

Nathan Michael Yerg
Athabasca University
Open Door - Suchak
Published November 7, 2015


The process of learning a second language requires that we, as teachers and students, open the discourse in classrooms and practice situations to our lives in ways that we often take for granted in L1 situations. The result of L2 discourse is what I call self talk, an exchange of ideas about a variety of everyday subjects that implicate the self. Self talk in the L2 learning context can arguably be understood as personal narratives. Even though there exists a number of studies about the role of second languages in eliciting personal accounts, there has been little consideration of how autobiography is related to learning a second language. From a review of literature I have noticed that both autobiography and L2 learning are wrapped up in the problematics of truth, gender, and identity. Therefore, it is my assumption, based on the literature and my experience as a teacher, that producing self talk in L2 learning contexts results in identity construction. Furthermore, identity construction is mitigated by the problematics of truth claims and gender issues. Conceptualizing L2 learning within this framework could prove helpful in transforming gendered power structures and asymmetries.