Post 9/11 trauma: A mother’s concern about her adolescent daughter in a Canadian public-school

Date created: 
L2 learner identity
Muslim identity
Hidden identity
9/11 and Islamophobic discourse

Amidst of the Islamophobic discourse in a post 9/11 context, this study reflects on my experiences of educating my 11-year old daughter as she constructs her ELL (English Language Learner) identity by hiding her Muslim identity in a Canadian public-school language classroom. The study suggests that the negative image of Muslims as well as the rising hypothesis, “All Muslims are terrorists”, restricts her from expressing her individual experience, opinion and commitment in her L2 (English as a Second/Additional Language) classroom. To write my reflection I have taken into account one particular incident of her classroom practice and the process of making meaning of that incident. My reflective analysis (Dewey, 1910) helps me gain a better understanding of my journey as a mother and strengthens my identity as a Muslim L2 teacher. My daughter attempts to accommodate her expressions along the discourses preferred by her classroom community that gives rise to her multiple, shifted, conflicted, contradictory, and hidden identities (Norton, 1998). It is her awareness of the representation or misrepresentation of her religion by the dominant Western culture that impacts her social and educational trajectories as a learner. Her classroom experiences illustrate how Muslim students may continually negotiate/construct their identity positions and how the affordances and constraints of their religious identity can lead to divergent learning outcomes (Sowden, 2007). I draw on the notions of Language socialization (Duff, 2007) and identity and investment (Norton, 2005) to examine how language intersects with other social categories such as religion. This paper concludes with a call for increased attention to a learner’s religious identity, which may closely relate to successful acquisition of English as an additional language.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Allan MacKinnon
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.