Foreign Language, Foreign Self: Exploring the impact of Foreign Language acquisition on the “Moroccan” Identity Focus Group (Proficient Moroccan speakers of English as a FL)

Majda Layek, University of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco, ID 361;    Abstract: The goal of the present research project is to test the long debated hypothesis claiming that people who speak different languages possess different selves when switching from their native language to a foreign language on the Moroccan linguistic landscape. This study purposely decontextualizes the hypothesis to eliminate the problematic variable of belonging to the physical culture of the foreign language in use, as recommended in earlier research, in the aim of understanding whether it is foreign language itself, or is it its culture which obliges the bi/multilingual individual to create a “foreign” identity adapted to its thoughts’ patterns and behavioral system. Participants, who are a group of proficient Moroccan speakers of English as a foreign language, mainly belonging to Masters’ and PhD programs in English departments across the country, as well as teachers of English as a foreign language who have studied English for at least five years to fulfill the proficiency criteria, will be answering questions in structured interviews carefully designed according to previous studies and future recommendations serving the overall purpose of this study. Though the project is still a work in progress, data collected so far from the structured interviews which contribute to the making of a short documentary demonstrate that Moroccans do experience self- duality when switching from native to foreign language. As language and identity are re-occurring concepts in almost every academic field, the overall project tests the claim which links acquiring a foreign language to acquiring a “foreign” vision of the self in specific and the world in general, and confirms the application of such hypothesis on proficient Moroccan speakers of English as a foreign language within their own native cultural settings.

Key words: language, identity, culture, native, foreign.