University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)27-41
JournalLanguage Learning in Higher Education
Journal publication date25 Oct 2013
Early online date17 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2013


Researching the learning experiences of postgraduate students requires
a different type of qualitative research to enable access to areas of their lives
which may well remain hidden with more conventional methods of research.
Narrative inquiry as both method and methodology allows such access. In this
article, I focus on the use, appropriateness, philosophical underpinnings, discovered
complexities and implications for my own teaching practice of the use of
narrative inquiry in my current doctoral research. Focusing on Latin Americans,
as the literature is surprisingly silent concerning such students’ experiences in a
UK context, I want to gain a deeper insight into what it is really like to have previously
been a professional and to now be a postgraduate international student in
the UK. My hope, therefore, is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of
these students through their experiences to allow their voices to be heard. It is
also expected that these experiences will shed light on how this understanding
can be used in my syllabus and approach to teaching (see Dewey 1938/1997). As
a  practitioner researcher using narrative inquiry, reflexivity is key: when researchers
are in the field, “they are never there as disembodied recorders of
someone else’s experience. They too are having an experience, the experience of
the inquiry that entails the experience they set out to explore” (Clandinin and
Connelly 2000: 81).


Gwyneth James, ‘Understanding the learning experiences of postgraduate Latin American students in a UK context: A narrative approach’, Journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education, Vol. 3 (1), October 2013. DOI: Published by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.

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