Mobile Students, Flexible Identities and Liquid Modernity: Disrupting Western Teachers’ Assumptions of ‘The Asian Learner’

  • Catherine Doherty
  • Parlo Singh


This chapter examines international students’ accounts of their educational journeys and their personal motivations using interview data collected from Asian international students enrolled in preparatory TESOL programmes in an Australian university. A selection of these interview accounts are analysed to demonstrate how these students carefully negotiate the contradictions and possibilities of globalizing times, their investments in diverse cultural capitals, and the restrictive cultured identities made available to them in the internationalized university. We argue that Asian international students may at times strategically take up essentialist versions (Spivak, 1990) of Asian learner identities that are discursively constructed and influential in Western TESOL practices. At the same time, these students also disrupt such narratives of Asian learner identities that circulate in TESOL classrooms, and offer alternative imaginings through discursive re-articulations (Hall, 1996a). Both of these tactics may be used strategically by students to further their project of appropriating new resources as they travel across transnational educational routes. The paper concludes by reflecting on the implications of new theorizations about the flexible identities of mobile students under conditions of liquid modernity for educators in internationalized education.


International Student Cultural Capital Cultural Politics Pedagogic Design English Language Proficiency 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Doherty
  • Parlo Singh

There are no affiliations available

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