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Study abroad, language usage, and the development of multilingual identities: The case of 1.5 generation Korean–American students

Hakyoon Lee EMAIL logo , YouJin Kim EMAIL logo and Bumyong Choi


This one-year longitudinal case study investigates two 1.5 generation Korean–American students’ Korean language learning and usage before, during, and after their study abroad (SA) trip to Korea. Each came to the U.S. at eight years old for primary education and currently attends a university in the U.S. Their linguistic and cultural backgrounds brought intragroup diversities into their educational communities, including the study abroad program. With detailed documentation of interview data and ethnographic field notes, this study examines how learning Korean influences the construction of the learner’s self. This study also seeks to identify the ways that concepts of language learning, multilingual identities, and cultural belonging can be elucidated using narrative analysis. The participants’ post-sojourn experiences reveal SA creates an opportunity to develop cultural membership and to build multilingual identities with increased accessibility to the Korean communities. This study offers a nuanced understanding of the diversifying study abroad students in higher education in the U.S., and the mobilization of linguistic resources and the construction of identities in the context of study abroad.

Corresponding authors: Hakyoon Lee and YouJin Kim, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, E-mail: (H. Lee), .

Funding source: Georgia State University


The project was funded by the Mentor-Mentee Research grant from Georgia State University that was awarded to YouJin Kim. Special thanks go to Dr. Gayle Nelson for her support during the research design stage. Both Hakyoon Lee and YouJin Kim contributed equally to this article.


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Published Online: 2020-11-11
Published in Print: 2023-01-27

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