The L2 Self and Identity: Exploring What Spanish as a Foreign Language Means for Former Mixed-Major Study Abroad Sojourners




L2 self, identity, person-in-context, post-sojourn, study abroad


The present study seeks to offer insights into how former study abroad students, temporally beyond the period of initial re-entry into their home environments, perceive Spanish as a foreign language in their lives now. This post-sojourn period is explored within the framework of the L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, 2009) and the expanded model of investment (Darvin & Norton, 2015). Written and oral narratives were collected from a sample of ten former mixed-major sojourners, who had studied abroad between 11 – 40 months earlier in Spain. They were now living and working elsewhere. The narratives were analyzed adopting a thematic analysis method (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2013), for patterns across the dataset. Findings showed four dominant themes: (1) identity echoes; (2) a pivotal experience; (3) sustaining or not sustaining; and (4) enduring value. In the interests of economy, we focused on the words of five participants.

Abstract in Spanish

Este estudio trata de entender cómo estudiantes que en su día realizaron una estancia en el extranjero, en la actualidad perciben el español como lengua extranjera en sus vidas pasado el período inicial de regreso a casa. La etapa posterior a la estancia se explora en el marco del Sistema Motivacional del Yo (Dörnyei, 2009) y de un concepto ampliado de inversión en el aprendizje de una lengua (Davin & Norton, 2015). Se recogieron narraciones escritas y orales de una muestra de diez personas con distintas carreras académicas que habían residido en España durante un período de entre 11-40 meses para cursar estudios universitarios. En el momento de la recogida de datos estas personas vivían y trabajaban fuera de España. Se adaptó un análisis temático (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2013) para identificar patrones comunes en las narraciones. Los resultados de este análisis muestran cuatro temas dominantes: (1) los ecos identitarios; (2) una experiencia transformadora; (3) mantenimiento o no mantenimiento de la L2 y (4) valores que perduran. El artículo da protagonismo al discurso de cinco de los participantes.


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Author Biographies

Elizabeth Machin, Universitat de Pompeu Fabra

Elizabeth Machin is a former doctoral student in the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Her research interests include the motivation and language identity of L2 users inside and outside the classroom. She has run seminars in Applied Linguistics and Translation at her university, and she has taught English as a foreign language in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, and the UK.

Elsa Tragant, Universitat de Barcelona

Elsa Tragant is a senior lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the Universitat de Barcelona. She lectures on English language teaching at the undergraduate level and on research methods in SLA at the master’s level. She is interested in the topics of classroom research, motivation, reading while listening, and intensive exposure ‘at home’ and abroad.


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How to Cite

Machin, E., & Tragant, E. . (2022). The L2 Self and Identity: Exploring What Spanish as a Foreign Language Means for Former Mixed-Major Study Abroad Sojourners. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(2), 133–160.



Research Articles