Writer Identity in Narrative and Argumentative Genres: A Case of Korean Students in the United States

Seongyong Lee


This study investigated how three Korean ESL students constructed their writer identity in narrative and argumentative genres of writing. For this purpose, the qualitative data collected from interviews, observations and written documents for eight weeks were analyzed according to a social constructionist perspective as a philosophical framework and Ivanič’s approach to systemic functional linguistics as an analytic method. The results showed that the participants constructed a confident identity in narrative writing whereas they identified themselves with a less-confident writer in an argumentative genre. Accordingly, they adopted different strategies for the difficulties they were confronted with in two genres. In addition, while narrative essays showed their ownership of Korean culture as a sojourner in the U.S., argumentative essays revealed their ambivalent identity in an academic context. These findings shed light on the importance of a narrative writing task as a stepping stone for academic writing by empowering an L2 writer in terms of constructing an authoritative voice.



L2 writing, writer identity, genre-based writing

Full Text:



Bok, E. (2012). English language learner’s literacy and identity work in online spaces. Modern English Education, 13(2), 17-35.

Burke, S. B. (2010). The construction of writer identity in the academic writing of Korean ESL students: A qualitative study of six Korean students in the U.S. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, USA.

Byfield, L., Shelby-Caffey, C., Bacon, H., & Shen, X. (2016). Digital literacy and identity formation in 21st century classrooms: Implications for second language development. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 5(1), 39-45. Retrieved from http://www.journals.aiac.org.au/index.php/IJALEL/article/view/1959/1770

Cho, H. (2015). A corpus-assisted investigation on the quality-dependent differences in writer visibility in L2 writing. Modern English Education, 16(4), 1-22.

Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2007). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Cummings, J. (1996). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Ontario, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Danoff-Burg, S., Mosher, C. E., Seawell, A. H., & Agee, J. D. (2010). Does narrative writing instruction enhance the benefits of expressive writing? Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 23(3). 314-352. doi:10.1080/10615800903191137

Erikson, E. H. (1974). Youth and crisis, (Repr. ed.). London: Faber and Faber.

Gergen, K., & Davis, K. (Eds.) (1985). The social construction of the person. New York: Springers.

Glesne, C. (2011). Becoming qualitative researchers (4th ed.). New York: Longman.

Guerra, L. (2012). Learners’ identity construction in the context of English as an international language. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 1(7), 117-126.

Retrieved from http://www.journals.aiac.org.au/index.php/IJALEL/article/view/816/748

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.

Helms-Park, R., & Stapleton, P. (2003). Questioning the importance of individualized voice in undergraduate L2 argumentative writing: an empirical study with pedagogical implications. Journal of Second Language Writing. 12(3), 245-265. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2003.08.001

Hirvela, A., & Belcher, D. (2001). Coming back to voice: The multiple voices and identities of mature multilingual writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 83-106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(00)00038-2

Hyland, K. (2002). Authority and invisibility: Authorial identity in academic writing. Journal of Pragmatics. 34, 1091-1112. doi:10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00035-8

Ivanič, R. (1998). Writing and identity: The discoursal construction of identity in academic writing. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Ivanič, R., Camps, D. (2001). I am how I sound: Voice as a self-representation in L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1), 3-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(01)00034-0

Kang, J. Y. (2005). Written narratives as an index of L2 competence in Korean EFL learners. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 259-279. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2005.10.002

Ko, B. (2010). Two ESL Korean children’s narrative writing in relation to genre-based approach. English Teaching, 65(4), 103-129.

Liu, Y. (2008). Taiwanese students’ negotiations with academic writing: Becoming “playwrights and film directors”. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17, 86-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2007.10.003

Martin, J. R. (1997). Analysing Genre: Functional Parameters. In F. Christie & J. R. Martin (Eds.). Genre and Institutions: Social Processes in the Workplace and School. (pp. 3-39). London: Cassell.

Matsuda, P. K. (2001). Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1-2), 35-53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(00)00036-9

Matsuda, P. K., & Tardy, C. M. (2007). Voice in academic writing: The rhetorical construction of author identity in blind manuscript review. English for Specific Purposes, 26(2), 235- 249. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2006.10.001

Mohamadi, Z., & Haji Mokhtari, F. (2016). Identity styles: Predictors of reading and writing abilities. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 5(5), 102-108. Retrieved from http://www.journals.aiac.org.au/index.php/IJALEL/article/view/2495/2174

Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity, and educational change. Harlow, England: Longman/Pearson.

Pierce, B. N. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9-31. DOI: 10.2307/3587803

Polkinghorne, D. E. (1991). Narrative and self-concept. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 1(2&3). 135-153.

Riessman, C. K. (2008). Narrative methods for the human sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Singhal, M. (2004). Academic writing and generation 1.5: Pedagogical goals and instructional issues in the college composition classroom. The Reading Matrix, 4(3). 1-13.

Tajfel, H. (Ed.) (1982). Social identity and intergroup relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thomas, G. (2011). How to do your case study: A guide for students and researchers. London: Sage Publications.

Turner, J. C. (1985). Social categorization and self-concept: A social-cognitive theory of group behavior. In E. J. Lawler (Ed.). Advances in group processes: Studies in the social psychology of intergroup relations (Vol. 2, pp. 77-122). London: Academic Press.

Turner, J. C., & Reynolds, K. J. (2010). The story of social identity. In T. Postmes & N. Branscombe (Eds.). (pp. 13-32). Abindon, UK: Psychology Press.

Vygostky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.1p.178


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.