School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Lucinda Spaulding


EMI, Cultural Identity, Self-efficacy, Africa, Phenomenology


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experience of cultural identity in an English-medium instruction context for Black university students in South Africa. Data were collected from 10 Black South African university students representing a cross-section of South African society. In-depth individual interviews were used as the primary data collection method complemented by a focus group interview and self-reflection letters written to a hypothetical new student in which the participant recalls his or her experience with cultural identity. Data analysis followed Moustakas’ methodology involving bracketing biases, horizonalization, organizing and classifying significant statements into themes, writing the textural and structural descriptions of participants’ experiences, then integrating the textural and structural descriptions into a unified statement of the essences of the experience of the phenomenon. The findings from this study demonstrate that English as a foreign language student’s cultural identity negotiation is influenced by a complex and intense interaction of multiple cultures. The participants expressed a tension between the received traditions of his or her tribal communities and the call to national identity. In the social context of the university, the participants were further presented with English as the dominant culture embodied in the language of instruction. Significantly, the participants’ experience of cultural conflict with the dominant culture was regulated by his or her level of English-language proficiency and involvement in a social support group.