© 2016

The Power of Identity and Ideology in Language Learning

Designer Immigrants Learning English in Singapore


  • Brings together the constructs of identity and two aspects of ideologies: language ideologies and circulating ideologies

  • Provides insights into a sociological and anthropological understanding of language anxiety

  • Explores transcultural flows and globalization by way of a unique setting: multilingual and multicultural Singapore


Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 18)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Peter I. De Costa
    Pages 1-12
  3. Peter I. De Costa
    Pages 55-67
  4. Peter I. De Costa
    Pages 87-121
  5. Peter I. De Costa
    Pages 163-172
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 173-173

About this book


This critical ethnographic school-based case study offers insights on the interaction between ideology and the identity development of individual English language learners in Singapore. Illustrated by case studies of the language learning experiences of five Asian immigrant students in an English-medium school in Singapore, the author examines how the immigrant students negotiated a standard English ideology and their discursive positioning over the course of the school year. Specifically, the study traces how the prevailing standard English ideology interacted in highly complex ways with their being positioned as high academic achievers to ultimately influence their learning of English. This potent combination of language ideologies and circulating ideologies created a designer student immigration complex. By framing this situation as a complex, the study problematizes the power of ideologies in shaping the trajectories and identities of language learners.


Applied linguistic research on Singapore Discourse analysis English in Singapore Globalization and educational processes Immigrant students in secondary education Immigrant students learning English Language anxiety Language ideology and language identity Multicultural multilingual Singapore Poststructuralism and Bourdieu Singapore's national bilingual policy Student immigration in the Singapore education system The English language syllabus and the Singapore school The discourse of crisis and the Speak Good English Movement

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Wells Hall B257Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Power of Identity and Ideology in Language Learning
  • Book Subtitle Designer Immigrants Learning English in Singapore
  • Authors Peter I. De Costa
  • Series Title Multilingual Education
  • Series Abbreviated Title Multilingual Education
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-30209-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-80751-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-30211-9
  • Series ISSN 2213-3208
  • Series E-ISSN 2213-3216
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 173
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Language Education
    Educational Policy and Politics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


Peter De Costa’s meticulously researched excursion into the lives of Singapore’s ‘designer immigrants’ transports readers to the Oak Girls’ Secondary School world of argumentative text types, Socratic questioning, and benevolent cosmopolitanism, documenting the varied ways these young women manage to navigate the pressures, positioning, and ideologies that collectively constitute the ‘designer immigrant complex’ they are all forced to contend with. With analyses firmly grounded in theory, this work represents an important contribution to the growing body of sociolinguistics of globalization literature. Mark Fifer Seilhamer, National Institute of Education, Singapore