e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 29 (1) Mar. 2021 / JSSH-6564-2020


Urban English Learners’ Perceptions Towards the Influence of Second Language Identity on Employment Opportunities in Malaysia

Minder Kaur Parthaman Singh, Jo Yee Liew, and Ching Sin Siau

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 1, March 2021


Keywords: Employment opportunities, English language proficiency, perceptions, second language identity, urban English learners

Published on: 26 March 2021

The purpose of this study was to identify and investigate urban English learners’ perceptions towards their second language identity in Malaysia and the influence of the said identity on their employment opportunities in Malaysia. This research was an exploratory study that employed a qualitative research design. The data was analysed for second language identity development factors and participants’ perception on the influence of their English language identity on their employment opportunities. The second language identity development factors identified were personal, social, professional, educational and learning environment. These factors were found to have influenced the participants’ second language identity development. The participants’ perception on the influence of their English language identity on their employment opportunities were analysed and discussed. This study has implications for studies on English language proficiency and employment opportunities in Malaysia as well as providing English educators with a different outlook on the resources used to teach English learners. Recommendations for future studies include conducting a long-term project that involves participants noting down their narratives such as a photo-elicitation project, to use as data for furthering this research.

  • Ab Dollah, R., & Shah, P. M. (2016). A comparison between vocabulary learning strategies employed by urban and rural schools students. Journal of Education and Social Sciences, 4, 114-121.

  • Alsup, J. (Ed.). (2010). Young adult literature and adolescent identity across cultures and classrooms: Contexts for the literary lives of teens. Routledge.

  • Amini, A. (2020). Social identity: A composite concept in Social Sciences research. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Research, 8(3).

  • Baharudin, R., Hong, C. Y., Lim, S. J., & Zulkefly, N. S. (2010). Educational goals, parenting practices and adolescents’ academic achievement. Asian Social Science, 6(12), 144-152.

  • Ball, R., & Chik, R. (2001). Early employment outcomes of foreign and educated graduates: The Malaysian experience. Higher Education, 42(2), 171-189.

  • Benson, P., Barkhuizen, G., Bodycott, P., & Brown, J. R. (2013). Second language identity in narratives of study abroad. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Besser, S., & Chik, A. (2014). Narratives of second language identity amongst young English learners in Hong Kong. ELT Journal, 68(3), 299-309.

  • Block, D. (2007). The rise of identity in SLA research, post Firth and Wagner (1997). The Modern Language Journal, 91, 863-876.

  • Campbell, J. (2018). English language and an inclusive Malaysia. 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 24(3), 206-219.

  • Chang, M., & Goswami, J. S. (2011). Factors affecting the implementation of communicative language teaching in Taiwanese college English classes. English Language Teaching, 4(2), 3-12.

  • Creswell, J. (2012). Educational research planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Pearson.

  • Crismore, A., Ngeow, K. Y. H., & Soo, K. S. (1996). Attitudes toward English in Malaysia. World Englishes, 15(3), 319-335.

  • Curry, L. (2016). Fundamentals of qualitative research methods [Video]. Yale University.

  • De Fina, A. (2012). Discourse and identity. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, 1-8.

  • Department of Statistics Malaysia. (2020). Population and Housing Census.

  • Eisner, E. (2014). Objectivity in educational research. Curriculum Inquiry, 22(1), 9-15.

  • Etemadi, A. (2012). Effects of bimodal subtitling of English movies on content comprehension and vocabulary recognition. International Journal of English Linguistics, 2(1), 239.

  • Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. The Modern Language Journal, 81(3), 285-300.

  • Francis, J. J., Johnston, M., Robertson, C., Glidewell, L., Entwistle, V., Eccles, M. P., & Grimshaw, J. M. (2010). What is an adequate sample size? Operationalising data saturation for theory-based interview studies. Psychology and Health, 25(10), 1229-1245.

  • Gaudart, H. (1987). English Language Teaching in Malaysia: A historical account. The English Teacher, 16(1987), 17-36.

  • Glaeser, E. L. (1999). Learning in cities. Journal of Urban Economics, 46(2), 254-277.

  • Gobel, P., Thang, S. M., Sidhu, G. K., Oon, S. I., & Chan, Y. F. (2013). Attributions to success and failure in English language learning: A comparative study of urban and rural undergraduates in Malaysia. Asian Social Science, 9(2), 53-62.

  • Hanapi, Z., & Nordin, M. S. (2014). Unemployment among Malaysia graduates: Graduates’ attributes, lecturers’ competency and quality of education. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112(2014), 1056-1063.

  • Kim, L. S. (2006). Masking: Maneuvers of skilled ESL speakers in postcolonial societies. In A. Hashim & N. Hassan (Eds.), English in South East Asia: Prospects, perspectives and possibilities. University of Malaya Press.

  • Kudrna, L., Furnham, A., & Swami, V. (2010). The influence of social class salience on self-assessed intelligence. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 38(6), 859-864.

  • LeCompte, M., & Schensul, J. (1999). Analyzing & interpreting ethnographic data. Altamira.

  • Lim, H. E. (2010). Predicting low employability graduates: The case of University Utara Malaysia. The Singapore Economic Review, 55(03), 523-535.

  • Norton, B. (1997). Language, identity, and the ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 409-429.

  • Norton, B., & McKinney, C. (2011). An identity approach to second language acquisition. In D. Atkinson (Ed.), Alternative approaches to Second Language Acquisition (pp. 73-94). Routledge.

  • Rajadurai, J. (2011). Crossing borders: The linguistic practices of aspiring bilinguals in the Malay community. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 34(1), 24-39.

  • Roshid, M. M., & Chowdhury, R. (2013). English language proficiency and employment: A case study of Bangladeshi graduates in Australian employment market. Mevlana International Journal of Education, 3(1), 68-81.

  • Sarudin, I., Zubairi, A. M., Nordin, M. S., & Omar, M. A. (2008). The English language proficiency of Malaysian public university students. In Enhancing the Quality of Higher Education Through Research: Shaping Future Policy (pp. 40-65). The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) Malaysia.

  • Sekharan Nair, G., Rahim, R., Setia, R., Husin, N., Sabapathy, E., Abd Jalil, N., Razlan, R. M., Mohamad, R., Mat So’od, S. M., Md Yusoff, N. I., Mohamed, N. M., & Abu Seman, N. (2012). Malaysian graduates English adequacy in the job sector. Asian Social Science, 8(4), 143-147.

  • Selvaratnam, V. (2019). Malaysia: National language policy and employability. International Higher Education, 96(Winter), 16-18.

  • Swami, V., & Furnham, A. (2010). Self-assessed intelligence: Inter-ethnic, rural–urban, and sex differences in Malaysia. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(1), 51-55.

  • Ting, S. H., Marzuki, E., Chuah, K. M., Misieng, J., & Jerome, C. (2017). Employers’views on importance of English proficiency and communication skill for employability in Malaysia. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 315-327.

  • Wahid, R., & Pilus, Z. (2017). Learning English in a third space? Malay students in an English-speaking university in Malaysia. Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 25(3), 1167-1180.

  • Zainuddin, S. Z. B., Pillai, S., Dumanig, F. P., & Phillip, A. (2019). English language and graduate employability. Education+Training, 61(1), 79-93.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Recent Articles