“Like a newborn baby”: Using Journals to Record Changing Identities Beyond the Classroom
The purpose of this article is to describe the sociocultural learning of 40 secondyear students in a Bachelor of Arts in English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) program in Auckland, New Zealand. These learners participated in a teaching and learning intervention involving journalized community placement. The study illustrates how reflective journals can be used as a vibrant teaching, learning, and assessment tool, enabling students to make connections with the culture of their host country, to reflect on their experiences of language socialization, and to become aware of their own investments. Students from the four categories of EAL learner (immigrants, international students, study-abroad students, and refugees) participated in a real-world community/workplace writing reflective diaries recording their observations and interactions. Qualitative analysis using discourse positioning reveals students describing themselves in relation to themes of changing perceptions of English abilities, changing identities relative to the host culture, and participation as socialization. The article concludes that writing reflective journals helps learners to evaluate how far they have come as learners and citizens and to find spaces for the enhancement of human possibility (Norton,2000). The practical pedagogical implication of the study is that combined with journaling, community placements contribute to a positive, future-focused “pedagogy for authentic being” (Barnett, 2004).