The Adolescent English Language Learner: Identities Lost and Found

  • Linda HarklauEmail author
  • Rhia Moreno
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Adolescence is regarded as a particularly malleable and difficult age in the development of social identity and conception of self and even more potentially problematic for multilingual and multiethnic English learners (ELs). In this chapter, we review scholarship from the new millennium including major shifts in theory and research involving identity development of adolescent ELs, specifically first-generation migrants to majority-English-speaking societies. Globalization, transnationalism, and the expansion of the digital world have all greatly impacted adolescent youth identity development and consequently have sparked new research in the field. In this review, we outline major strands of investigation of identity development in EL youth, including individual psychosocial processes, the significance of institutional and societal contexts, and the centrality of both face-to-face and multimodal interaction and semiotic practices. With discussions of multilingualism, multiculturalism, multimodality, and multiliteracies shaping current scholarship, the chapter concludes with directions for further research on the multifaceted and dynamic nature of EL adolescent identity development.


Adolescent Identity Ethnicity Globalization Multimodal Literacies 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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