Asian migrants are inevitably categorised as language learners. At times, it is the migrant’s own
definition and can be used as a support. At others, it is an imposition in two senses: it can be
imposed by others and by institutions; and also acts as a hindrance to resettlement in the new
country. Language learning raises issues of a sense of belonging and a sense of self-value.
A narrative inquiry study of six Asian migrant women follows their experience as language
learners over a twelve-month period, focusing on the different concepts above, as the women
negotiate their identities, to finally divesting the label language learner. The findings suggest
that there is a close link between a sense of belonging and a sense of self-value which influences
the participants’ identity trajectories―towards valuable members of the mainstream society.
The discussion poses two questions to education providers, ESL educators and policy makers:
What does the image of language learner migrant do to the perception that others have of
newcomers? How long is a newcomer a migrant?