Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation (Access Restricted)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Applied Linguistics

Committee Chair

Evelyn Wright Fogle

Committee Member

Teresa Dalle

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Angela Thevenot


Saudi Graduate sojourners in the US hailing from different regions of Saudi Arabia perceive themselves differently in second language (L2) sociocultural discourses. They come from a society that places great emphasis on religion and cultural traditions, impacting Saudi language learners’ self-identity and creating a variety of agentive moves in L2 socialization contexts. This study explores such agentive moves that construct divergent outcomes in L2 interaction. Few studies have examined the differences in language learning experiences between conservative and non-conservative sojourning Saudi students in the US. This study thus investigates regional differences and religiosity as factors in the language learning experiences of such students to better understand how internal cultural differences influence language learning opportunities in transnational settings.The study examines Saudi graduate students’ cross-cultural experiences and their effects on the negotiation of religious and regional identities in L2 communities due to cultural differences (i.e., L1/Saudi cultural background and L2/US cultural background). The study helps understand human agency as negotiated in various social settings.This qualitative study examines interviews from 14 adult male and female Saudi graduate sojourners studying at three US universities. The study takes a qualitative approach to understanding their firsthand experiences. All participants took part in audio-recorded, semi-structured interviews about their cross-cultural experiences and their effects on the negotiation of their sociocultural identities, i.e., religious and regional identities. All data were transcribed and analyzed in relation to the participants’ life stories and discourses about language, religion, region, professionalism, and learning.It was found that Saudi graduate sojourners held multiple religious and regional identities. Those two identities intersected with the acculturation and language learning processes in the US context and appeared to be flexible. Such flexibility varied based on many factors, including degree of religiosity, region of origin, context, marital status, and gender identity. It was also found that previous professional identities appeared to mitigate the level of interaction with multiple communities in the US.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.