Digital literacies Week 3: September 16/08
“The role of the internet” (Crystal, 2004, pp. 64-91) • Computer mediated communication is a whole new medium • Not like speech • Not like writing • The consequence for a language (English) are that new forms develop (see p. 81) • The consequence for all languages is an increased multilingualism (the computer no longer speaks only English, p.86).
“L2 literacy and the design of the self: A case study of a teenager writing on the Internet” (Lam, 2000) • Focus of this article: “how electronic textual experiences in ESL figure in the identity formation and literacy development of the learner” (p.457, Abstract). • Specifically, how this Chinese immigrant teenager “constructs a textual identity by composing texts and using them to represent and reposition identity in the cross-cultural milieu of Internet communication” (p.458)
Theoretical framework of Lam’s article • Literacy is defined “as a socially situated practice” (p.458) and the plural form, literacies, is a more accurate term • Literacy learning involves participation in communities • “a central construct is the language user’s identity, for in practicing any form of literacy, the user is at the same time enacting a particular social role and membership in a particular group” (p.459)
Identity and L2 learning • “learners somehow construct their identities through the selective appropriation of literacy resources” (p.459) … and this takes place among contradictions and conflicts (i.e. identity is not stable, seamless, but is, rather, dynamic and changing and contradictory) • Borrowing from Goffman’s text, The Presentation of the Self, Lam asserts that the self is a product of collaboration – it “must be produced and developed in specific interactions” (p.462).
Textual identity • Lam uses “the term textual identity as an attempt to characterize the discursive strategies that [the Chinese immigrant teenager who is the focus of this study] uses to articulate and position himself in written texts … as he negotiates diverse discourses on the Internet” (p.464). • Therefore, a question: What discursive strategies does he use?
Group activity • 1. pages 466-468 (Focal student) • 2. page 469 (textual identity in GeoCities) • 3. page 470-471 (Ryoko home page) • 4. page 472-473 (Social/gender interactions)
Lam’s study demonstrated … • “The English that Almon acquired … is the global English of adolescent pop culture rather than the standard English taught in ESL classes” (p.475-6) • This “enabled him to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness to a global English-speaking community” --that he wanted to join (p.476)
Maybe we need to understand communication differently … • “a model of communication that looks at home learners’ identities are created through a ritual of role play and dramatic acts” (p.477) – drawing on theorists Goffman and Carey. • Therefore, as ESL teachers we need “to help students critically reflect on the social roles and relations they are constructing through their rituals of dramatic acts on the Internet” (p.477)
Implications for literacy and identity • The teenager in this study experienced changes: “from a sense of alienation . . . to a growing confidence in his expressive ability with a transnational group of peers” (p.478). • Teachers should take note that “students’ target language may diverge from the standard language in the English classroom” (p.478)
Implicit critique of SE ? • Students’ “choice of target is simultaneously an act of investment and desire [to join certain communities] and a reaction to their marginal position in the English-speaking classroom and society” (p. 478, drawing on Ibrahim, 1999). • “TESOL in today’s global, multicultural world needs a broad and critical concept of language and literacy” (p.478) … perhaps to “challenge and expand” the standard … as students develop “multiple literacies in ESL” (p.479).