RURAL-ETHNIC IDENTITIES & STUDENTS' LEARNING EXPERIENCES IN ENGLISH AS SECOND LANGUAGE PROGRAMME IN A PUBLIC SECTOR UNIVERSITY OF PAKISTAN
This study examines the learning experiences of students belonging to rural areas in English as Second Language (ESL) at a public sector university of Pakistan. The aim is to understand how students’ rural-ethnic identities affect their learning. With an interpretivist epistemological stance, qualitative approach has been used to collect and analysis data. Twenty students and four teachers were purposively sampled for in depth interviewed and observations. The findings suggest that students’ rural-ethnic identities as ‘villagers’ conflict with certain units of ESL course, particularly those which are based on exclusively urban context; however, other units which are set in rural contexts complement students’ these identities. In the later case, students from rural backgrounds demonstrated a high level of interest and motivation; and their familiarity with the rural context led them to participate enthusiastically and confidently in class discussions and writing tasks. It is also found that students foreground their rural-ethnic identities when interacting with peers and teachers in ESL classes. Their rural-ethnic identities often conflict with the identities of peers and teachers, which significantly impact on these students’ participation in the ESL classes, and so their overall learning experiences on the ESL programme.