The study of Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition has long been an established research area. However, researchers have often worked in separate areas, for example, motivation, anxiety and learning strategies. Their studies have enriched our knowledge of the mechanisms in shaping Individual Differences, yet, very little is known about their developmental nature. In another area of Second Language Acquisition research, studies focusing mainly on learners in target-language communities, indicate that learners voice their individual differences through the construction of second language identities. These studies primarily focused on adult language learners in target language communities and yet little is known about pre-tertiary level learners studying a second language in the regions in which they have grown up.
This study was designed to explore the development of individual differences of Hong Kong English learners. Adopting a qualitative research method, ten learners from age 8 to 18 (5 females and 5 males) were interviewed three times over a two-year period. The interviews were scheduled to match the learners' transitions across key learning stages, for instance, from primary to secondary school, and from secondary school to tertiary institution. The data were analyzed in a two-tier system: narrative analysis and the analysis of narrative. The findings were presented through the ten language learners’ stories and a thematic analysis on domains of learning: home, school and out-of-class.
Findings show that Hong Kong English learners emphasized different realms of learning during different stages of their learning. Second, as learners matured, their
communities of comparative others expanded and their conceptualizations of being different from their comparative others were refined. Third, the learners processed their learning experiences into future language learning orientation. Finally, participants developed their individual differences