Imagined Communities, Identity, and English Language Learning in a Multilingual World

  • Bonny NortonEmail author
  • Aneta Pavlenko
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter discusses the construct of “imagined communities” as a way to better understand the relationship between second language learning and identity. It is argued that language learners’ actual and desired memberships in “imagined communities” (Anderson B, Imagined communities: reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. Verso, London, 1991) affect their learning trajectories, influencing their agency, motivation, investment, and resistance in the learning of English. These influences are exemplified with regard to five identity clusters: postcolonial, global, ethnic, multilingual, and gendered identities. We discuss the relevance of “imagined communities” for classroom practice in English education and conclude with a reflection on the future of English language teaching in our increasingly multilingual global community.


Imagined communities Imagination Identity English language teaching Investment Poststructuralism 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and Literacy EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Center for Multilingualism in Society across the LifespanUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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