i
EXPLORING SECOND LANGUAGE (L2) LEARNERS‟ LANGUAGE LEARNING
EXPERIENCE IN SOCIAL NETWORKING ENVIRONMENTS
by
Young Sang Ch...
All rights reserved
INFORMATION TO ALL USERS
The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy su...
ii
Copyright by
Young Sang Cho
2012
iii
DEDICATION
To my grandmother, father, and mother who always believe in me.
iv
ACKNOWELDGEMENTS
I have a great many people to thank for their help on my dissertation. First, I
would like to express ...
v
I also would like to thank my whole family. All of them stood up for me no matter
what happened in my life. I love my gr...
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DEDICATION…………………………………………….. ………….iii
ACKNOWELDGEMENTS……………………………….. ………….iv
LIST OF TABLES……………..……...
vii
Data Analysis..……………………………… ………….58
Trustworthiness…………………………….. ………….61
IV. LANG-8 USERS‟ MAIN ACTIVITY:
BUILDING IMA...
viii
Educational Implications…………………... ………….256
Conclusions………………………………… ………….265
APPENDIX A…………………………………………….. ………….267
...
ix
LIST OF TABLES
Table 3.1 Demographic Information of Research Participants ……56
Table 4.1 Elements of Profile Informatio...
x
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this ethnographic case study was to understand the nature of
second language (L2) learning activ...
xi
findings of this study, some implications for L2 educators were made in regard to
developing constructive language lear...
1
Chapter One
Introduction
Overview of the Problem
The twenty-first century is characterized by the advance of computer-ne...
2
a specific author to consumers, so that the information on the web stayed stable and
isolated.
On the other hand, the se...
3
that social activities with new digital technologies have the potential to change the ways
that people think, act, and l...
4
nature of L2 learning facilitated by online social networking media. For this investigation,
I developed the following r...
5
and friendships with other users. In general, SNS users build up a social network after
creating their own individual We...
6
text messages, photographs, audio tracks, and/or videos. Due to these multiple and hybrid
communication modes embedded w...
7
around each individual user; whereas, in the latter, the focus is put on group activities
rather than that of an individ...
8
There exist different layers of social connections even within the same SNSs; for
example, networks with pre-existing cl...
9
When teachers who mostly belong to the Web 1.0 or the earlier generations of technology
face those Web 2.0 learners who ...
10
However, many researchers have observed different types of L2 learning practices
with digital technology in non-institu...
11
Chapter Two
Conceptual Context
History of CALL
In the field of language education, the integration of information and
c...
12
In contrast, the second stage, Communicative CALL (1980s-1990s), was based on
communicative and cognitive approaches to...
13
principal objective of CALL at this state is not only to help learners to improve accuracy
and fluency in a target lang...
14
itself. Rather, it emphasizes how historically significant the impact of current digital
technology is on today‟s langu...
15
Web 2.0 are related. After that, I will review the existing research to find out what we
have empirically learned about...
16
Therefore, as long as input is comprehensible and enough of it is given, Krashen claims
that the learner can acquire th...
17
Another interesting feature of Gass‟s (1997) SLA model is its second stage,
comprehended input. Gass differentiates bet...
18
syntactic analysis of language than to semantic processing, and to test their hypothesis on
second language grammars an...
19
Teaching approaches based on SLA models. Affected by the cognitive
language acquisition models that describe what happe...
20
language teaching does not have to be acquisition-oriented, but if it is, the following
suggestions may guide the class...
21
language use” and “an increased „emic‟ (i.e., participant relevant) sensitivity” in SLA
research (p. 286), Gass (1998),...
22
those materials after the learning process is finished. In the same vein, the SLA models
also consider a second languag...
23
sufficient language input has guided L2 educators to pay more attention to improving
communicative competencies of L2 l...
24
simplified status of L2 users reflects the standpoint resisting the relevance of language
acquisition and L2 learners‟ ...
25
conjoint activity between interlocutors, and communicative problems should be viewed
as “contingent social phenomena” a...
26
2006; Robbins, 2003; Swain & Deters, 2007; Watson-Gegeo, 2004). In general,
sociocultural theories foreground social or...
27
counts a language as the most influential meditational means, with which humans can
form and transform their actions an...
28
specific communicative contexts and plays a role in (re)connecting speakers with the
world where they live.
Language as...
29
not only can a short word be an utterance but also a sentence and a paragraph or even a
large volume of novel can be an...
30
previous utterances in such ways as agreeing, negating, questioning, and explaining, or to
their particular uses of lex...
31
genres does not occur by learning vocabulary and grammatical structures of language
abstractly; rather, we can learn an...
32
and likewise, the inner enters the outer world and becomes an agent of the individual‟s
external activities. As the out...
33
and a specific historical moment of their lives, and repeats them for his/her own purpose
in a given place and time. Th...
34
However, Bakhtin also points out that each individual has a different degree of struggle
with authoritative discourse, ...
35
bodily form” (p. 291). Bakthin explains that the stance of differentness in dialogue is not
destined to be synthesized ...
36
ones with “whom my thought becomes actual thought for the first time (and thus also for
my own self as well)” (p. 94). ...
37
says, “the better a person understands the degree to which he is externally determined
[…] the closer to home he comes ...
38
person is alive he lives by the fact that he is not yet finalized, that he has not yet uttered
his ultimate word” (p.59...
39
something that group members are willing to pursue, which in turn functions to have
them gather in the beginning of com...
40
problems—in short a shared practice” (para. 5). In developing, sharing, maintaining, and
adjusting those resources over...
41
small and sometimes big changes are inevitable within the communities. For example, a
domain of interest can be shifted...
42
granted to members simply by having a passion for the common domain of interest. In
addition to that, the members also ...
43
Through this view of the learning process as legitimate peripheral participation,
Lave and Wenger (1991) stress that le...
44
They are not simply a passive learning device that processes only input and output of L2.
Instead, as Wertsch (1998) vi...
45
from the learners‟ language knowledge and communicative competence, but from his or
her “change from limited to fuller ...
46
these online practices with Internet-based media, characterized by representation and
transformation of a self in the a...
47
basis of survey data collected from 262 foreign-born immigrant adolescents and
interview data from 35 focal teenage par...
Exploring second language (L2) learners' language learning
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Exploring second language (L2) learners' language learning

  1. 1. i EXPLORING SECOND LANGUAGE (L2) LEARNERS‟ LANGUAGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN SOCIAL NETWORKING ENVIRONMENTS by Young Sang Cho August 10, 2012 A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Learning and Instruction (LAI)
  2. 2. All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. Microform Edition © ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106 - 1346 UMI 3541091 Published by ProQuest LLC (2012). Copyright in the Dissertation held by the Author. UMI Number: 3541091
  3. 3. ii Copyright by Young Sang Cho 2012
  4. 4. iii DEDICATION To my grandmother, father, and mother who always believe in me.
  5. 5. iv ACKNOWELDGEMENTS I have a great many people to thank for their help on my dissertation. First, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my advisor, Dr. Mary McVee, for her guidance, continued encouragement, and patience. She was with me since the beginning of my dissertation. She always provided her helping hand when I faced seemingly endless challenges during the whole writing process. She patiently read through the first draft of my dissertation, and reminded me of my strong points when I needed to hear them most, and motivated me to move forward when the whole writing process was slow. I am where I am now thanks to this great support from her. I also would like to give my sincere thanks to the other two members of my committee, Dr. Suzanne Miller, who inspired me to be a good teacher and taught me how to be a good qualitative researcher from the beginning of my doctoral study, and Dr. Erin Kearney, who inspired me with her insightful comments and immense knowledge of second language learning. I would never have been able to finish my dissertation without the guidance and support from the members of my committee. I wish to give special thanks to Dr. Stephen Dunnett, LAI professor and vice provost for international education, who helped me to feel secure when I first came to Buffalo, to regain confidence in myself when I felt vulnerable, and most of all, to give me a precious opportunity to meet and work with wonderful friends in the International Admissions Office. It was hard to imagine my life in Buffalo without them. I will never forget their continued support and love for me and my family. It was my pleasure and honor to be with them at many important moments of my life.
  6. 6. v I also would like to thank my whole family. All of them stood up for me no matter what happened in my life. I love my grandmother, father, mother, father-in-law, mother- in-law, sister, brother, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, and nieces. I am heavily indebted to them for providing a loving environment that gave me strength to continue this doctoral study. Most of all, I am truly thankful to my son and my wife for their endless love and support for me. My son, Woojin, always gave me strength to move forward. The numerously asked question, “Are you done now, Daddy?” made me laugh all the time and motivated me to sit in the UB library. His smile made all of this hard work worth doing. Next, my wife, Eunim, watched and supported the journey of my doctoral study from the beginning to the end. She saw how frustrated I was when my study was delayed, but she always encouraged me with her kind words and smile and I was able to overcome all difficulties. She filled me up with numerous late-night meals when I was hungry and with wise advice and insightful ideas when I felt lost academically. I acknowledge that I cannot thank her enough for what she did for me in any way, but I would like to say, “여보, 고마워 그리고 사랑해!” Last, dear Lord, I am deeply grateful to you for helping me finish this doctoral study and knowing how blessed I am with all these precious people that I have met during that journey. Thank you!
  7. 7. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION…………………………………………….. ………….iii ACKNOWELDGEMENTS……………………………….. ………….iv LIST OF TABLES……………..………………………….. ………….ix ABSTRACT.………………………………………………. ………….x CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION.……………………………….. ………….1 Overview of the Problem…………………… ………….1 Research Questions…………………………. ………….3 Definitions………………………………….. ………….4 Significance of the Study…………………… ………….8 II. CONCEPTUAL CONTEXT…………………… . ………….11 History of CALL……………………………. ………….11 Cognitive Perspectives of L2 Learning……… ………….15 Sociocultural Perspectives of L2 Learning….. ………….25 L2 Learning in Web 2.0 Environments……… ………….45 Needs of the Study…………………………... ………….48 III. METHODOLOGY……………………………… ………….50 Research Site ……………………………….. ………….50 Context of Research…...….……………….... ………….51 Research Design …...………………………. ………….53 Participants….....…………………………… ………….54 Data Collections……………………………. ………….56
  8. 8. vii Data Analysis..……………………………… ………….58 Trustworthiness…………………………….. ………….61 IV. LANG-8 USERS‟ MAIN ACTIVITY: BUILDING IMAGES IN PROFILE PAGES …. ………….64 Screen Name……………………………….. ………….64 Profile Pictures……………………………... ………….77 About-Me………..…………………………. ………….89 Conclusions………………………………… ………….111 V. LANG-8 USERS‟ MAIN ACTIVITY: BUILDING A FRIEND NETWORK…………... ………….114 Initiating a Friend Network………………… ………….114 Maintaining a Friend Network……………... ………….132 General Impressions of Lang-8 Friends……. ………….144 Conclusions…..…………………………...... ………….161 VI. PERCEPTIONS OF LANG-8: PERCEIVED BENEFITS……………………… ………….165 Technical Aspects………………………….. ………….165 Social Aspects……………………………… ………….178 Cognitive Aspects………………………….. ………….208 Psychological Aspects……………………... ………….225 Conclusions………………………………… ………….233 VII. DISCUSSION & IMPLICATION……………. ………….237 Lang-8 as a Community of Practice………... ………….238
  9. 9. viii Educational Implications…………………... ………….256 Conclusions………………………………… ………….265 APPENDIX A…………………………………………….. ………….267 REFERENCES….…………...……………………………… ………….269
  10. 10. ix LIST OF TABLES Table 3.1 Demographic Information of Research Participants ……56 Table 4.1 Elements of Profile Information ……65 Table 4.2 Types of Profile Pictures ……78 Table 4.3 Themes Frequently Addressed in About-me ……91 Table 4.4 Themes of Three Versions of Kenshin‟s About-me ……97 Table 4.5 Two Versions of Miyoko‟s About-me in L1 and L2 ……100 Table 4.6 Comparison between the First and the Final Draft of English Version of Kenshin‟s About-me ……103 Table 4.7 Changed parts of the first, second, and third draft of About-me (Miyoko) ……105 Table 5.1 The Number of Lang-8 Friends according to Language Categories (as of March 1, 2011) ……157 Table 6.1 Time Gap between the First Entry and the First Received Feedback ……177 Table 6.2 The Number of NSTL Friends and NNSTL Friends ……180 Table 6.3 Types of Comments Encouraging the Participants ……189 Table 6.4 The Ratios between EW and CM (as of Feb. 2nd , 2011) ……196 Table 6.5 Means of Word Count for the First (F) 10 and the Latest (L) 10 Journal Entries ……216 Table 6.6 The Rate of Postings Each Month (from July, 2010 to March 2011) ……226
  11. 11. x ABSTRACT The purpose of this ethnographic case study was to understand the nature of second language (L2) learning activities that today‟s online users conduct with Web 2.0 technologies in an out-of-school context. I was particularly interested to know the features of L2 learning environments that were fostered in the language exchange social networking site (SNS) called Lang-8.com by examining its users‟ L2 learning practices. This study was guided by three research questions: 1) What practices do online L2 learners engage in as they participate at the Lang-8 social networking site?; 2) How do online L2 learners perceive the use of the Lang-8 social networking site for their L2 learning?; and 3) What L2 learning environments are developed and promoted at the Lang-8 social networking site, which contribute to online users‟ L2 learning? Data for this study were collected through participant observation, online interviews with 12 Lang-8 participants, and online artifacts (such as profile pages, journal entries, and written feedback). The data were inductively analyzed through categorizing strategies such as coding and thematic analysis, and naturalistic generalizations were made from thematic patterns found across the emergent categories. Findings from data analysis revealed that 1) the Lang-8 participants‟ L2 learning was situated as an integral part of both (re)constructing their real-life and L2 learner/teacher identities and building social relationships with other Lang-8 members and 2) the networks with multiple friends served as communities of practices (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 2006; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002) that benefited the participants in the technical, social, cognitive, and psychological areas. Based on the
  12. 12. xi findings of this study, some implications for L2 educators were made in regard to developing constructive language learning environments.
  13. 13. 1 Chapter One Introduction Overview of the Problem The twenty-first century is characterized by the advance of computer-networked communication technology. Whether we are young or old, enthusiastic about its use or not, it is undeniable that online communication has become one of the major ways that people correspond with one another these days. It is often said that Internet communication tools, which overcome time and space constraints, accelerate globalization of the world by providing another opportunity for people to be connected to the outside world (e.g., Black, 2009; Warschauer, 2000). The Internet of the 21st century is known as Web 2.0, the second-generation Web, which O‟Reilly (2005, 2006) differentiates from its earlier version, Web 1.0. When personal computers and the Internet were becoming popular in the late 20th century, people were excited about the unlimited accessibility to a plethora of information on the Web. The main concern of the Web 1.0 generation was how to consume information wisely in order to succeed in the flood of knowledge. At that time, the Web was normally considered as a space where information could be retrieved, and Internet users were viewed mainly as consumers of knowledge that had already been prepared and published by so-called experts. Although Web 1.0 services such as personal websites allowed the public to write and post their own content, their design and construction were typically restricted to the experts who had access to hardware and software and had skills and knowledge about them. In addition, publishing activities were mostly unidirectional from
  14. 14. 2 a specific author to consumers, so that the information on the web stayed stable and isolated. On the other hand, the services based on Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites (SNS), which were mostly created and popularized in the early 21st century, have provided a platform where ordinary Internet users can not only read but also easily write, publish, and share their ideas with other users (O‟Reilly, 2005; Lankshear & Knobel, 2006; Warschauer & Grimes, 2007; Thorne, Black, & Sykes, 2009). Web 2.0 represents an online space where consumption, creation, and sharing of information and knowledge can arise simultaneously. In addition, content creation is no longer limited to a written text. Web 2.0 environments support multimodal processes of content creation and transmission, such as posting and distributing images, audio tracks, and videos. Along with the rise of the large-scale publishing movement among the public and its interactive and dynamic nature, Web 2.0 also has provided technical support and environments for connecting people. Wesch (2007) emphasized on his YouTube video clip that Web 2.0 is not just linking information but also linking people. It promotes environments to weave a web of people and to build new communities in which people can participate through active interactions and collaboration. Regarding the characteristics of Web 2.0, Warschauer and Grimes (2007) observed that “the new Web‟s architecture allows more interactive forms of publishing (of textual and multimedia content), participation, and networking” (p. 2). With regard to the new technical changes that the digital technologies of the 21st century bring to our daily lives, Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, and Gee (2004) commented
  15. 15. 3 that social activities with new digital technologies have the potential to change the ways that people think, act, and learn. Kern (2006) also indicated that the revolution of digital technology “enables new forms of discourse; new forms of authorship; new forms of identity construction; new ways to form, choose, and maintain learning communities and affinity groups that cross national boundaries” (p. 183). With this growing recognition of technical and social affordances of Web 2.0 in learning, some research has been conducted to explore the emerging second language (L2) literacy and learning practices mediated by Web 2.0 technologies outside of traditional school contexts (e.g., Black, 2005, 2006, 2007; Lam 2000; Lam & Rosario- Ramos, 2009). However, due to its recent advent, research on learning in Web 2.0 environments in general and L2 literacy and learning in particular is still in its infancy (Thorne, 2008). In order to better respond to the needs of our 21st -century learners (regardless of their ages, it seems imperative to understand the nature of language learning practices that they voluntarily engage in with the Web 2.0 technologies, and to comprehend how such practices are contributing to their L2 learning. Research Questions With an attempt to understand this ongoing social phenomenon of Web 2.0 and its influence in L2 learning, I chose to investigate one of the Web 2.0 services, a social networking site (SNS), and conducted an ethnographic case study with a specific SNS named Lang-8.com. In this dissertation, my goals are to illuminate online users‟ L2 learning practices with Lang-8, a language learning website embedded with SNS features, and how they understand their L2 learning experiences with it, and elaborate upon the
  16. 16. 4 nature of L2 learning facilitated by online social networking media. For this investigation, I developed the following research questions: 1. What practices do online L2 learners engage in as they participate in the Lang-8 SNS? 2. How do online L2 learners perceive the use of the Lang-8 SNS in their L2 learning? 3. What L2 learning environments have been developed and promoted at the Lang-8 SNS and how do they contribute to Lang-8 users‟ L2 learning? Definitions Web 2.0. O‟Reilly (2006) defined Web 2.0 as follows: Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them (para. 1). His standpoint implicates that the advent of Web 2.0 does not necessarily mean the evolutionary advance of Web technologies since Web 1.0; rather, it is a change of people‟s vision and mindset of how the Web can be used. Frequently exemplified Web 2.0 services are Flickr, del.icio.us, blogs, Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, and the like, which are known to have such characteristics as promoting participation, collaboration, user-generated data, user-generated taxonomy, and human networks (O‟Reilly, 2005; Warschauer & Grimes, 2007). Social networking sites (SNSs). Social networking sites (SNSs) are online communities built by online users who want to share their interests, ideas, information,
  17. 17. 5 and friendships with other users. In general, SNS users build up a social network after creating their own individual Web page or a theme-based community site. On an individual level, users create their own profile and create connections to others by sending an invitation note. On a group level, users create a virtual space, invite other users to resister as a group member, and share their common interests together in a synchronous or an asynchronous way. According to Boyd and Ellison (2008), social network sites are defined as: Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (p. 211). Boyd and Ellison use the term “network” rather than “networking” in their definition, explaining that the main role of current SNSs is not initiating a new relationship with strangers but maintaining existing off-line relationships online. However, considering that there are SNSs that regard weaving networks between strangers as a principal reason for their existence (which include my online research site, Lang-8.com), I prefer using “networking” to “network” for my study. As the term “social networking” speaks for itself, SNSs are primarily considered to be used mainly for finding and staying connected with people, which is what Mislove et al. (2007) called “pure” SNSs. As other social media do, however, most of today‟s SNSs (e.g., Facebook, MySpace Hi-5, and Cyworld) have technical features that enable users not only to locate and connect to their friends but also to communicate with them by publishing and organizing online content via varied communication modes such as
  18. 18. 6 text messages, photographs, audio tracks, and/or videos. Due to these multiple and hybrid communication modes embedded within SNSs, today‟s users are able to easily create multimedia content according to their own purposes in most SNSs. Depending on the types of key content modes, people also often choose specific SNSs; for example, Flickr and Zoomr for picture sharing, YouTube and Vimeo for video sharing, LiveJournal for diary sharing, and MySpace and Last.fm for music sharing. SNSs are also often categorized by their purpose and the size of their targeted audience, but they usually fall into two main categories: general and niche social networking (Boyd and Ellison, 2007; Zhang & Wang, 2010). The general SNSs (such as Facebook, MySpace, and Hi-5) are relationship-oriented. The users focus more on finding pre-existing and/or new friends and maintaining social connections. Because of its general purpose, this type of SNS tends to accommodate people of all interests. Niche SNSs (such as LinkedIn, Xing, Flixster, Dogster, GoodReads, and LiveMocha), on the other hand, have their focus on specific interests and topics (such as business, education, movies, music, pets, sports, dating, and the like). Because each niche SNS is organized around online users driven by similar interests, the targeted audiences are also narrower and more specific. Besides the main content mode, the purpose, and the size of target audience, SNSs also can be divided according to who is the center of a network. According to Kageyama (2007), there exist two types of SNSs so far. One type is more “me-oriented” such as MySpace and Facebook, and the other is less me-oriented such as Mixi, a social networking site in Japan. In the former SNSs, social networks are more likely centered
  19. 19. 7 around each individual user; whereas, in the latter, the focus is put on group activities rather than that of an individual. No matter how many types of SNSs are out there, it is often said that most SNSs have two core features: publishing profiles and making articulated social links visible (Boyd & Ellison, 2007; Harrison & Thomas, 2009; Mislove et al., 2007). After creating an SNS account by filling in brief personal information (such as first and last names, email address, password, gender, birthday, etc.) users can publish their own profile by uploading a profile picture and adding some more information like interests, education, location, and the like. Profiles function to represent users in the SNS space; therefore, a profile serves as the first contact point where SNS members meet. According to Dwyer, Hiltz, and Passerini (2007), the visibility of profile information and the level of privacy are usually decided and controlled by users, which depend on their purposes of using SNSs and their level of trust on SNSs and their members. After making and publishing a profile, users can start to create a list of friends. Harrison and Thomas (2009) explain that there are two ways to make friends in SNSs in general: by sending a friend request to another member and by creating or joining a theme-based community. In general, forming a link between users is two-directional. Once a user sends a request, he/she needs to wait until the counterpart accepts or declines it. In the same way, when a user receives a friend request from another member, he/she can choose whether to accept it or not. Without the mutual agreement to accept the other as a friend, a relationship is less likely to be formed. However, depending on how the SNS account is set up, users can be part of another‟s network without his or her own approval, like Twitter and most Weblogs.
  20. 20. 8 There exist different layers of social connections even within the same SNSs; for example, networks with pre-existing close friends in the real-world, real-world acquaintances, online acquaintances, and so on (Boyd, 2006; Mislove et al., 2007). Users can not only articulate their links to others but also control how much the list of friends can be visible in SNSs. Some users make it visible to the public, some users to his or her SNS friends, and some users keep it only to themselves (even though the last case is very rare). No matter how open or closed the list is to the public, social networks are organized around people rather than around content (Boyd & Ellison, 2007; Mislove, et al., 2007). Users also often use another user‟s lists of friends as a starting point to search for another possible friend. SNSs like Facebook have a technical feature to show connections with other users on the basis of their mutual friends; that is, the system informs users of friends who share the same friends within the system. Significance of the Study I believe that this research can be significant for both L2 education practitioners and L2 learning theorists. First of all, this study can contribute to answering the following question: What can teachers do with L2 learners of the Web 2.0 era in classroom settings? According to Lankshear and Knobel (2006), the Web 1.0 generation tends to see the world “much the same as before” except that “only now it is more technologized, or technologized in more sophisticated ways,” but people living in Web 2.0 tend to see the world “very different from before” “as a result of the emergence and uptake of digital electronic inter-networked technologies” (p. 38). Gee (2004) also posits that “young people today are often exposed outside of school to processes of learning that are deeper and richer than the forms of learning to which they are exposed in schools” (p. 107).
  21. 21. 9 When teachers who mostly belong to the Web 1.0 or the earlier generations of technology face those Web 2.0 learners who are believed to be developing a new mindset and experiencing new learning processes in a global context on an everyday basis, it is not unlikely that conflicts may arise between those teachers and students. Even though most of my research participants are from generations before Web 2.0, their current L2 learning practices took place mainly around Lang-8.com. The Lang- 8 community was a center of their L2 learning, and they were active enough to be insiders of Web 2.0. Therefore, this study, exploring the nature of L2 learning practices in Web 2.0 environments, can contribute to the literature on the role of Web 2.0 technology in L2 learning in general and to teachers‟ understanding of the learning environments that today‟s L2 learners are exposed to. In the end, this type of research will help language teaching become more related to today‟s L2 learners and to form school environments where learners become more engaged in and devoted to their learning. I also believe that L2 learning principles embedded in Web 2.0 environments can enrich our perspectives on learning in general and L2 learning/acquisition in particular. According to Gee (2004), traditional school education has been based on the presupposition that learning is mainly a matter of cognition and learners have “disembodied minds learning outside any context of decisions and actions” (p. 39). Therefore, L2 learning in traditional school settings has been focused on developing linguistic systems with language practice exercises, devoid of concrete and real-life activities and outside contexts of its application. Thorne, Black, and Sykes (2009) depict such traditional L2 classrooms as “bounded contexts providing limited opportunities for committed, consequential, and longer-term communicative engagement” (p. 808).
  22. 22. 10 However, many researchers have observed different types of L2 learning practices with digital technology in non-institutionalized settings (e.g., Black, 2005, 2006, 2007; Davies, 2006; Gee, 2004). Those researchers were interested in deep and active learning voluntarily taking place among online users, analyzed the nature of learning in online spaces, and found and highlighted its social origins and developments. For example, Gee (2004) observed another type of learning, called “cultural processes,” in well-made video games (p. 12). Gee argues that well-made video games situate language and its learning in a concrete context and encourage game players to create socially situated identities and commit to their learning in virtual spaces. In addition, online affinity spaces formed by game players also create unique learning opportunities that have not been explored in traditional school environments. All in all, research on the new online environments where this voluntary, active, and technology-rich L2 learning takes place can expand our theoretical view of L2 learning.
  23. 23. 11 Chapter Two Conceptual Context History of CALL In the field of language education, the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) into language learning has been discussed under the acronym “CALL” (Computer Assisted Language Learning). Warschauer and Healey (1998) portrayed the history of CALL in three main stages—Behavioristic CALL, Communicative CALL, and Integrative CALL—and explained that each of these corresponds to a certain level of computer technology and a certain pedagogical approach to language. Warschauer (2000) revised the above three main states into Structural CALL, Communicative CALL, and Integrative CALL later, and I will introduce this revised terminology in brief. According to Warschauer (2000), the stage of Structural CALL (1970s-1980s) corresponded to behavioristic/structural approaches to language learning such as the grammar translation method and the audiolingual method. At this stage, a computer was considered as nothing more than a mechanical tutor that is never tired of presenting the same material. The Internet was not commercially available to the public yet, so the computer was used to carry out simply repeated language drills and practice exercises or to give pre-programmed, immediate positive or negative feedback. Because the structuralist approaches considered habit formation followed by repeated practices with corrective linguistic feedback critical in language learning, Structural CALL programs mostly consisted of “grammar and vocabulary tutorials, drill and practice programs, and language testing instrument” (Kern & Warsachauer, 2000, p. 8).
  24. 24. 12 In contrast, the second stage, Communicative CALL (1980s-1990s), was based on communicative and cognitive approaches to language learning, which hold that learners develop language as an internal mental system through interaction (Warschauer, 2000). Communicative CALL was supported by the advent of personal computers. At this stage, CALL programs mostly consisted of communicative exercises like “analytic and inferential tasks” that meant to increase interactions between language learners and to provide many communication opportunities for language learners to receive enough linguistic input (Kern & Warschauer, 2000, p. 13). In the 1980s, computer-mediated communication (CMC) was not a major feature of CALL yet. Primary CALL models for communicative exercises considered the computer as tutor (although not in a drill- practice format), as stimulus that encourages students‟ discussion, writing, or critical thinking (Taylor & Perez, 1989) or as a tool that empowers learners to use or understand language, such as word processors, spelling and grammar checkers, and desk-top publishing programs (Brierley & Kemble, 1991; Taylor, 1980). Even though CMC was getting recognized as a major person-to-person communication tool in the early 1990s, the computer still remained as a substitute for a real conversational environment (Thorne, Black, & Sykes, 2009). The third stage (21st century), Integrative CALL, based on a sociocultural view of language learning, has emerged by the widespread use of multimedia and the Internet which includes Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 technologies (Warschauer, 2000; Kern & Warschauer, 2000). Warschauer posits that sociocultural approaches to learning language involve “apprenticing into new discourse communities” and “entering new communities and familiarizing [oneself] with new genres and discourses” (p. 65). Therefore, the
  25. 25. 13 principal objective of CALL at this state is not only to help learners to improve accuracy and fluency in a target language, but also to enable them to act as an agent in the world, and the primary role of computers will be “to provide alternative contexts for social interaction [and] to facilitate access to existing discourse communities and the creation of new ones (Kern & Warschauer, 2000, p. 13). Warschauer envisions that CALL programs will become content-based, task-based, or project-based, reflecting real-life tasks and problems that learners are faced with in their everyday lives. According to Bax (2003), however, Warschauer‟s three phases of CALL seemed to simplify its real history by considering only two factors in his analysis: the underlying language learning theories and the technologies that were available at that time. As a result, Bax argues that Warschauer‟s analysis is inconsistent with the real historical development of CALL, and that the label used for each phase of CALL is confusing. Despite Bax‟s criticism, Warschauer‟s (2000) account deserves language educators‟ attention in that it is the first systematic analysis of the history of CALL in L2 education, connecting the pedagogical approach of language with the development of digital technology. In addition, Warschauer‟s analysis shows his view of what mainly has driven the changes in CALL programs between language learning approach and technology. The structural and communicative stages of CALL seem to show that the former was the driving factor; that is, depending on language learning approaches, people used technologies in behavioristic or communicative ways. However, when we get to the third stage of CALL, new digital technologies “do not only serve the new teaching/learning paradigms, [but] also help shape the new paradigms” (Kern & Warschauer, 2000, p. 12). This does not imply that the trajectory of CALL will be simply determined by technology
  26. 26. 14 itself. Rather, it emphasizes how historically significant the impact of current digital technology is on today‟s language education, compared to its previous stages. Another interesting aspect of Warschauer‟s (2000) history of CALL is that the teaching and learning paradigms of 21st -century CALL have been captured in sociocultural theories. Before CMC in general and Web 2.0 in particular appeared, the access to the opportunities to learn a language was relatively restricted to physical- institutional settings where formal language learning practices occurred most of time. Learners mostly learned the language on the just-in-case-of-its-use basis, and language learning was meaningless to learners in out-of-classroom situations until the right time came to use the learned language. Even when CMC tools were introduced in the field of L2 education in the early 1990s, their primary role was limited to creating communication environments that exist only for communication‟s sake. However, as Web 2.0 set in, it started to take language learners out of the classroom, and to provide more places and opportunities to participate in the world in their learning language. Web 2.0 made it much easier for language learners to link themselves to others in the outer world, and as a result, concepts such as “community,” “affiliation,” “participation,” and “connection” have been considered important aspects of L2 learning activities (e.g., Black, 2006; Lam, 2000; Lankshear & Knobel, 2006). On the basis of Warschauer‟s (2000) insight into the current and future trajectory of CALL, I will discuss cognitively oriented second language acquisition theories and sociocultural theories (SCTs) together and compare their epistemological and ontological stances in an effort to explain why research on L2 learning activities in Web 2.0 environments has been often discussed in the SCT contexts and how closely SCTs and
  27. 27. 15 Web 2.0 are related. After that, I will review the existing research to find out what we have empirically learned about the roles of current Web 2.0 applications and services for L2 learning. Cognitive Perspectives of L2 Learning Cognitively-oriented second language acquisition. While the origin of second language learning theories traces back to the behavioristic tradition in the 1940s, contemporary second language education has been dominantly led by psycholinguistic and cognitive approaches of second language acquisition (SLA) which adhere to the information processing paradigm (e.g., Gass, 1997; Krashen, 1985; VanPatten, 1996). Johnson‟s (2004) analysis finds that all cognitive SLA models contain three basic elements—input, a cognitive mechanism, and output—and they share a common belief that input is a critical factor for language acquisition and is transformed into grammar knowledge with the assistance of each learner‟s internal language processor. For example, Krashen (1985) claims in his input hypothesis that humans acquire second language in only one way—“by understanding messages, or by receiving comprehensible input” (p. 2). By the term “comprehensible input” he means the input of which structures and forms are at the i + 1 level; here, i represents a learner‟s current level of competence in the target language and 1 the next level of competence along the natural order of development. That is, once a learner is exposed to enough input which is just beyond his or her current level of grammatical knowledge (i + 1), the learner can not only comprehend the input but also acquire its structure because the comprehensible input will subconsciously activate the learner‟s language acquisition device (LAD).
  28. 28. 16 Therefore, as long as input is comprehensible and enough of it is given, Krashen claims that the learner can acquire the target language with the help of his or her LAD. VanPatten‟s (1996) SLA model is composed of four stages—input, intake, developing system, and output—and three sets of processes—input processing, accommodation and restructuring, and access— which respectively explain how a learner moves from one stage to another. In this model, he elaborates on how the learner gets linguistic data from the input (Input Processing), what a developing system consists of (Developing System), how the developing system changes (Accommodation and Restructuring), and how a learner makes output (Access). VanPatten basically adopts the classic elements of an information processing model like Krashen‟s (1985), but his model is different from Krashen‟s in that he believes humans‟ language input is also processed in a conscious way. That is, while Krashen believes that humans can acquire a target language in a subconscious way, VanPatten assumes language acquisition takes place by a learner‟s attending to and detecting linguistic data in the input. Gass (1997) also accounts for how input is converted into output by introducing five major stages: apperceived input, comprehended input, intake, integration, and output. Gass believes that language acquisition starts from a learner‟s attention to the input. Learners cannot utilize everything that they hear or read while they form their second language grammars because humans‟ capacity of processing data is very limited; therefore, language acquisition starts from the stage that learners notice or recognize “a gap between what they already know and what there is to know” (p. 4). In noticing this process, the input becomes much more manageable for learners.
  29. 29. 17 Another interesting feature of Gass‟s (1997) SLA model is its second stage, comprehended input. Gass differentiates between comprehensible input (Krashen, 1985) and her comprehended input in two ways. First, with comprehended input, she emphasizes that the agent who controls the comprehensibility of language input is a hearer, not a speaker. In Krashen‟s model, comprehensibility is controlled by the person who provides input, but Gass states that it is the learner who is doing the work of understanding. Secondly, Gass assumes that there are different levels of comprehension, whereas Krashen sees comprehension in a dichotomous way: Something is understood or not. In Gass‟s view, “comprehension represents a continuum of possibilities ranging from semantics to detailed structural analyses” (p. 5). In terms of the role of output, these three models show different perspectives as well. First of all, Krashen (1985) posits that the only way a learner can acquire a target language is through being exposed to enough comprehensible input; therefore, output does not play a crucial role in the SLA process. In his view, speaking is just a result of acquisition or a product of the acquired knowledge. VanPatten (2003) also makes it clear that output cannot be a cause of language acquisition. However, he adopts a view that output plays “a facilitative role in acquisition” (p. 69). By the term “facilitative role” he means that the output may force learners to process input better by becoming aware that they need a form or a structure while they are speaking. Gass (1997) agrees that output is “not truly a stage in the acquisition process” in one sense, but in another sense it plays “an active role in acquisition” (p. 7). In her model, Gass adopts Swain‟s (1985) perspective on the role of output: the noticing/triggering and the hypothesis-testing function. In Gass‟s view, output makes it possible for learners to pay more attention to
  30. 30. 18 syntactic analysis of language than to semantic processing, and to test their hypothesis on second language grammars and modify it on the basis of the given feedback. As a result, the acquisition process does not end in the output component, but output restarts input processing by interacting with the intake component or by enabling the learners to understand the perceived input much better. Factors affecting second language learning have also been actively examined in the language acquisition models discussed so far. For example, Krashen (1985) proposes an affective filter hypothesis, according to which affective factors such as motivation, attitude, self-confidence, and anxiety influence a learner‟s degree of acquisition. In addition, how much time learners have, how much they focus on forms, and how well they know the rules affect their monitoring process. Gass (1997) also delineates mediating factors in her model in detail. For example, when input is apperceived by the learner, such factors as time, frequency, affect (e.g., social distance, status, motivation, and attitude), prior knowledge, salience of forms, and attention affect the degree of the learner‟s perception of input. Regarding the transition from the apperceived to comprehended input stage, Gass indicates that negotiation of meaning, foreigner talk, and redundancy improve the learner‟s comprehension. When comprehended input is converted into intake, the learner‟s level of analysis of input and the learner‟s knowledge of their native language, second language, world language, and universal language also mediate the process. Between intake and integration stage, the learner‟s ability to form and test language hypotheses, and between integration and output stage, the learner‟s personality, language production mode, and situation play important mediating roles.
  31. 31. 19 Teaching approaches based on SLA models. Affected by the cognitive language acquisition models that describe what happens in language learners‟ heads when they acquire a target language and the mediating factors that explain why each individual learner shows a different language learning progress even with the same input and output conditions, teaching approaches to second language have been evolved from grammar translation and audiolingual methods to communicative language teaching (CLT). Lightbown and Spada (1999) state that CLT has its primary focus on “using language for meaningful interaction and for accomplishing tasks rather than on learning rules” (p. 40). CLT has been supported by the psycholinguistic and cognitive SLA models because of its emphasis on the role of conversational interaction. It has been commonly believed that conversational interaction brings about negotiation for meaning and input adjustments between speakers, which makes input much more comprehensible for language learners by facilitating their comprehension process (Long, 1983; Gass, 1997; VanPatten, 2003). Gass also adds that negotiation and modification “serves to increase the possibility of a greater amount of input becoming available for further use” (p. 22). In addition, Long (1996) states that “negative feedback obtained during negotiation work or elsewhere may be facilitative of L2 development, at least for vocabulary, morphology, and language-specific syntax, and essential for learning certain specifiable L1-L2 contrasts” (p. 414). On the basis of cognitive SLA models, effort also has been made to apply the second language acquisition theory to pedagogy. For example, VanPatten (2003) discusses implications of his model for second language teaching. He notes that second
  32. 32. 20 language teaching does not have to be acquisition-oriented, but if it is, the following suggestions may guide the class in an appropriate way: “The more input, the better (the more meaning-based the class, the better); the more interaction, the better; all learner production should be meaning-based or communicative; focus on form (or grammar instruction) should be meaning-based and tied to input or communication; and we should watch out for what we expect of learners” (p. 113). His suggestions basically tell us that meaning-based input is crucial in second language education, and quality input can be provided through conversational interactions, but teachers should not expect learners to produce what they cannot produce. VanPatten‟s suggestions are not the only way of applying SLA theories to pedagogy, but they seem to be a typical guideline in the acquisition-oriented class. Epistemological and ontological premises of SLA. Second language (L2) researchers who adopt cognitive and psycholinguistic approaches view SLA as the study of how second language is acquired in an individual‟s mind or brain, and consider that the legitimate and primary scope of SLA research has to be the internal mental process of linguistic knowledge (e.g., Gass, 1997, 1998; Gass & Selinker, 1994; Gregg, 1993; Kasper, 1997; Krashen, 1985; Long, 1997; Poulisse, 1997; VanPatten, 1996, 2003). Due to the strong emphasis on internal mechanisms of L2 acquisition, cognitive SLA researchers consider social, cultural, and historical dimensions of language and situational contexts influencing the acquisition processes as trivial, minor, or secondary unless they directly contribute to the explanation of how linguistic knowledge is processed within an individual. Thus, when Firth and Wagner (1997) claimed a reconceptualization of SLA by adding “contextual and interactional dimensions of
  33. 33. 21 language use” and “an increased „emic‟ (i.e., participant relevant) sensitivity” in SLA research (p. 286), Gass (1998), Kasper (1997), Long (1997), and Poulisse (1997) argued that Firth and Wagner‟s suggestions were based on their misinterpretations of what SLA had to be about. For example, Long (1997) explicated that “any theory of language acquisition […] has to address the question of how learners‟ interlanguage knowledge processes from stage A to stage B, and what events promote or hinder such progress […] because in the final analysis, learning or acquiring anything is about establishing new knowledge available for effective and efficient use” (p. 310). In cognitively-oriented SLA, language is viewed as an abstract system of linguistic forms and structures. Language is perceived as linguistic data such as input, intake, or output which can be manipulated, adjusted, restructured, and accommodated. Although the acquisition models support communicative language teaching (CLT), which sees a language as a tool for communication, Johnson (2004) points out that human communication in the acquisition model is reduced to “the notion of input that needs to be processed according to well-established computational rules” and the meaning exchanged through communication is also reduced to “a sentence-level type of information” (p. 71). From the acquisition perspective, language is an objectified commodity to be acquired. How a learner is conceived of in the acquisition models is introduced in the acquisition and participation metaphor by Sfard (1998). He states that the acquisition metaphor (AM) construes a learner as a recipient and a (re)constructor. The AM compels us to think of the human mind as “a container to be filled with certain materials,” which is independent of his or her sociocultural contexts (p. 5). Therefore, the learner can own
  34. 34. 22 those materials after the learning process is finished. In the same vein, the SLA models also consider a second language learner as “a machine (a computer)” or “a limited capacity processor” (Johnson, 2004, p. 71). Even though the acquisition model attends to the learner‟s active role of constructing and reconstructing the received linguistic data, the active role is very bound to his or her own internal capacity. From the perspective of viewing language as a set of rules and facts and a learner as someone who has a limited processing capacity, language learning is considered as an individual‟s cognitive process of acquiring linguistic forms and structures. As Sfard (1998) points out that the acquisition metaphor (AM) considers learning as “gaining possession over some commodity” (p. 5), the SLA models also assume that L2 learning means gaining a new set of linguistic knowledge in a subconscious or conscious manner. Johnson (2004) wrote that the acquisition models describe the process of analyzing the incoming information as “mechanistic, predictable, stable, and universal” (p. 84). With the AM, language is considered as an abstract system of linguistic codes devoid of a context, so that its learning also takes on a homogeneous characteristic. As Sfard (1998) comments that the AM gives us an “as if message,” (p. 12), the cognitive SLA models describe the process of second language learning as if the learner had a mind that is independent of the context and the world where he or she is living. Concerns with cognitively-oriented SLA. The cognitive approaches of SLA prevailing in the second language educational field for about 40 years have contributed to second language learning studies in many ways. For example, cognitive SLA has explicated the complicated nature of language acquisition process happening within an individual. Secondly, the emphasis on the comprehension of meaning followed by
  35. 35. 23 sufficient language input has guided L2 educators to pay more attention to improving communicative competencies of L2 learners through real interactive communications rather than to audiolingual approaches emphasizing decontextualized habit-forming and memorizing methods such as meaningless pattern drills and repetitions or to grammar translation methods mainly focusing on learning about grammar knowledge and rules. By highlighting an individual learner‟s innate ability to process and develop linguistic knowledge, cognitive SLA has also contributed to making L2 teaching less mechanistic and focusing more on creating input-rich environments where interactive communication can take place. Even with these tangible achievements, however, some concerns remain to think over regarding its epistemological and ontological stance on language learning. First, L2 learning has been considered mainly as a cognitive issue, so that the main focus has been to provide the fittest environment for language learners to optimize language input and output. Under cognitively oriented perspectives, the learner‟s mind is like a container or a computer, so that the main interest has been how to help the mind to process and fill with linguistic knowledge effectively. However, the question is whether our learners learn a second language as if they have a mind independent of where they were, are, and will be. If a learner‟s mind is simply separated from the world, the question remains as to why the learner would be interested in filling the mind with linguistic knowledge. Secondly, Firth and Wagner (1997) criticizes that cognitively-oriented SLA puts L2 users simply in the category of “learners” or “non-native speakers of the target language” rather than treating them as a whole person, which overlooks multiple social identities that L2 users hold and bring in using and learning an L2. Once again, this
  36. 36. 24 simplified status of L2 users reflects the standpoint resisting the relevance of language acquisition and L2 learners‟ social worlds. Because the primary focus of cognitive SLA has been to describe universal processes of language learning from the psycholinguistic perspective, social identities other than the learner identity as non-native speakers are regarded as variables to be controlled rather than being valued as an important topic to investigate. In general, issues like identity (re)construction taking place throughout L2 using and learning have been considered as something that has little to do with language learning/acquisition in cognitive SLA. Regarding the concept of L2 learners, Firth and Wagner (1997) continue to criticize that cognitive SLA research has viewed L2 learners as those who have linguistic deficiencies in the use of the language. When some communicative misunderstandings occur between native speakers and L2 learners, the latter are usually considered to cause communicative problems due to their non-nativeness in linguistic competences. On the other hand, native speakers have been portrayed to be an ideal figure that L2 learners target to reach and their communicative competences to be the ultimate goal that L2 learners have to accomplish in the end. However, according to Firth and Wagner, viewing L2 learners as “inherently defective communicators” (p. 291) is biased in that it does not involve the emic perspectives to real-life, communicative problems. Instead, they promote the concept of considering L2 learners as participants/language users in social interactions, which stems from sociocultural perspectives viewing language use (that also includes language learning) as a social phenomenon rather than solely as an individual and a cognitive event. Under their suggested mindset, communication is understood as a
  37. 37. 25 conjoint activity between interlocutors, and communicative problems should be viewed as “contingent social phenomena” and “intersubjective entities” (p. 291.) The third concern about cognitive SLA is that it “may draw people apart rather than bring them together” (Sfard, 1998, p. 8). With the acquisition metaphor (AM), Sfard states that knowledge is conceived of as a commodity and property, learning as acquisition of something, and knowing as having and possessing. In other words, knowledge is treated like material wealth in capitalist countries, so that knowing and learning implies gaining more material wealth than others and being superior to those who know or learn less. Therefore, viewing learning as having and possessing property can cause unnecessary competition among learners, which can result in valuing individualism and independence more than togetherness, solidarity, and collaboration. In the second language learning situation based on the AM, it is natural to think that the students who gain and possess more practical grammar knowledge and communicative competence of the second language will be considered as successful learners, whereas those who gain less fail as learners. Because the goal of L2 learning and teaching is individual enrichment with linguistic competence according to the AM, if the learner does not acquire this competence, he or she will be conceived as a L2 failure. Sociocultural Perspectives of L2 Learning Since the concerns about epistemological and ontological stances of cognitive SLA were raised in the late 1990s, many efforts have been made to suggest alternative models of L2 learning mostly from sociocultural orientations, which view L2 learning as more than internal mental processes of linguistic knowledge (e.g., Firth & Wagner, 1997; Hall, 1997; Johnson, 2004; Lantolf, 1994; Lantolf & Johnson, 2007; Lantolf & Thorne,
  38. 38. 26 2006; Robbins, 2003; Swain & Deters, 2007; Watson-Gegeo, 2004). In general, sociocultural theories foreground social origins of learning and development of human beings (Zuengler & Miller, 2006). They promote the holistic point of view that each individual is a part of the world, and the world exists on the condition that he/she lives and acts in it; therefore, human development and activity cannot be fully understood by taking apart from the world where they live (Leontiev, 1978). Among many important concepts that sociocultural theories promote, I have paid attention to mediation, dialogism, and situated learning in order to look into different interpretations of language, language learners, and language learning. Language as a mediational tool of mind. The view that language is a mediational tool comes from Vygotsky‟s sociocultural approach to mind (1978, 1986). Vygotsky conceives the human mind not only as a psychological but also as socioculturally-mediated organ. Although Vygostky does not rule out the contribution of biological growth of human mind to the development of its mental functioning, he intends to find the sources and origins of human mental activity in our interactions with social environments, particularly with people, which are mediated by cultural artifacts. Vygotsky understands that mental activity is present first in interpersonal planes no matter how individual it appears. The social origin of mental activity is further explicated by the two roles of cultural artifacts. First, as a tool that is “externally oriented,” they enable us to extend our mental abilities to regulate and master our physical world; secondly as a sign that is “internally oriented,” they enable us to regulate and master our inner world (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 55). Among many cultural artifacts that have existed so far, Vygotsky (1986)
  39. 39. 27 counts a language as the most influential meditational means, with which humans can form and transform their actions and develop their mental functions to higher levels. According to Vygotsky (1978), language originally exists for the purpose of communication; therefore, through speech, humans can have interactions with and eventually influence others in a certain way. Once language is appropriated and internalized, it also starts functioning to help humans to shape their thoughts more easily and to react to their environmental stimuli more efficiently and effectively. As Vygotsky comments that “mental tools enable humans to plan ahead, to create complex solutions to problems, and to work with others towards a common goal” (p. 17), the use of language accelerates humans‟ ability to communicate and shape thoughts, control their cognitive and physical behaviors, and master their inner and outer worlds in the end. Wertsch‟s (1991) interpretation that “Vygotsky approached language and other sign systems in terms of how they are part of and „mediate‟ human action” is helpful to better understand the mediational roles of language (p. 29). Wertsch views that symbolic artifacts are inherently related to human action and always exist as a part of it. In other words, language is understood as “a way of „doing‟ things in the world” (McVee, Dunsmore, & Gavelek, 2005, p. 546). From this view, language does not exist only as an abstract set of sounds and written symbols independent of the social contexts where it is used, but as a mediational tool that enables humans to facilitate their (inter)actions (e.g., communication) with others outwardly and themselves (e.g., thinking) inwardly. As human actions occur in specific social, cultural, and historical environments and play a role in (re)connecting actors with their environments, the use of language also occurs in
  40. 40. 28 specific communicative contexts and plays a role in (re)connecting speakers with the world where they live. Language as utterance in speech genre. Bakhtin (1986) views language not simply as linguistic forms that exist as an abstract system, but as speech communication that exists in reality; thus, an utterance, not a word or a sentence, should be the real unit of speech communication. With the comment that “language is realized in the form of individual concrete utterances (oral or written) by participants in the various areas of human activity,” he underlines a social situatedness of language as a social act (p. 60). According to him, concrete utterances are understood as human activities through which “language enters life” and “life enters language” (p. 63). Bakhtin (1986) introduces three major features of the utterance. First, the boundary of each utterance is determined by a change of speaking subjects. By defining the individual speaker as a criterion for separating each utterance, Bakthin emphasizes the importance of human agency in language use and the importance of its understanding within the boundaries of communication events between at least two social beings. The second constitutive feature of the utterance is its specific finalization—the possibility of responding to it, which is determined by “semantic exhaustiveness of the theme,” “the speaker‟s plan or speech will,” and “typical compositional and generic forms of finalization” (Bakhtin, 1986, pp. 76-77). He indicates that understandability or comprehensibility of the meaning of language is not enough for units of language to be an utterance; they must have the quality of being addressed to someone, “addressivity” (p. 99), so that they will arouse the addressee‟s responsive understanding and reactions. In addition, this second feature implies that there exist varied forms of utterances; that is,
  41. 41. 29 not only can a short word be an utterance but also a sentence and a paragraph or even a large volume of novel can be an utterance as long as they have a quality of addressivity. The third feature is the relation of the utterance to the speaker himself (the author of the utterance) and to the other participants in speech communication (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 84), and this is associated with his notion of a word. Bakhtin argued that a word (as well as a sentence) exists in three aspects: “as a neutral word of a language,” “as an other‟s word,” and “as my word” (p. 88). The first aspect indicates a word as a unit of language, just like an entry in a dictionary. It does not belong to anyone yet, so its meaning remains impersonal and abstract. The second aspect indicates a word used by others; it belongs to others, and is filled with the reverberation of their utterances. However, once the speaker appropriates words and populates them with his/her own specific intentions within his/her own speech plans (no matter whether he/she picks them up from the dictionary or others‟ utterances), they are transformed into a third aspect of word, a “my word,” and are filled with “the speaker‟s subjective emotional evaluation of the referentially semantic content of his[/her] utterance” (p. 84). These three different aspects of the word illuminate the active roles of “others” as well as “the author/speaker” in communication. The above three features of the utterance also can be recapitulated by its dialogic nature. Bakhtin (1986) notes that “any utterance […] has […] an absolute beginning and an absolute end: its beginning is preceded by the utterances of others, and its end is followed by the responsive utterances of others (or, although it may be silent, others‟ active responsive understanding, or, finally, a responsive action based on this understanding)” (p. 71). When a speaker constructs an utterance, he/she is always responsive to others‟ utterances. The speaker may respond to the semantic content of the
  42. 42. 30 previous utterances in such ways as agreeing, negating, questioning, and explaining, or to their particular uses of lexical or syntactic elements. Therefore, the utterance does not come out of nowhere; rather, it originates from others‟ utterances and is sensitive to their own specific social and cultural contexts. At the same time, the utterance is also oriented towards addressee(s)/listener(s). The speaker normally expects a response from the listener, so he/she modifies the content and style of the utterance depending on who the audience is and will be. The speaker has a particular audience in mind and takes into account their responsive understanding and reactions, and this influences the quality of his/her own utterances. To sum up, the utterance is always formed in multiple relations with preceding and following utterances, and Bakhtin explains this dialogic nature of the utterance as “a link in a very complexly organized chain of other utterances” (p. 69). Although utterance is sensitive to particular contexts of speech communication and heterogenetic in its forms, Bakhtin (1986) argues that we can study the utterance by looking at speech genres that it belongs to. Bakhtin notes that “each separate utterance is individual, of course, but each sphere in which language is used develops its own relatively stable types of these utterances. These we may call speech genres” (p. 60). And he continues that “a particular function […] and the particular conditions of speech communication specific for each sphere give rise to particular genres, that is, certain relatively stable thematic, compositional, and stylistic types of utterances” (p. 64). According to Bakhtin (1986), all human beings speak in speech genres; therefore, having a good command of language means to have the ability to command “a repertoire of genres of social conversation” (p. 80). Without knowing different speech genres, we cannot fully participate in social activities in various areas of our lives. Mastering speech
  43. 43. 31 genres does not occur by learning vocabulary and grammatical structures of language abstractly; rather, we can learn and master them best by being exposed to the concrete contexts in which each speech genre is embodied and by experiencing them in real speech communication. However, Bakhtin also indicates that mastering speech genres of a given language is not as easy as it sounds because of their heterogeneity. As there are a myriad of areas of human activities in reality, there also exist countless categories of speech genres. In addition, as the functions and conditions of speech communication change in time, so do speech genres. Bakhtin says that “speech genres are much more changeable, flexible, and plastic than language forms are” (p. 80). Therefore, a speaker‟s command of a given language is manifested not only by his/her knowledge about speech genres but also by his/her sensitivity to those changes and ability to catch up with their flows. Language as a world view in dialogue. Conceiving language as a worldview is related to a close relationship between language and human consciousness. Medvedev and Bakhtin (1978) argue that “human consciousness does not come into contact with existence directly, but through the medium of the surrounding ideological world,” and they continue that “the individual consciousness can only become a consciousness by being realized in the forms of the ideological environment proper to it: in language, in conventionalized gesture, in artistic image, in myth, and so on” (as cited in Morris, 2003, p. 127). For them, language is one of the semiotic signs and tools that mediate between a self and his/her outer world. It is a place where both of the worlds are in contact. Through discursive practices, an individual comes to interactively communicate with the outside, so that the outer world enters the inner world and becomes a source of self-configuration,
  44. 44. 32 and likewise, the inner enters the outer world and becomes an agent of the individual‟s external activities. As the outer world is already stratified into many different classes and groups, the language that is used in each different sphere of our lives has been already stratified accordingly. Therefore, participating in dialogue implicates speakers‟ understanding of the stratified nature of specific social areas where the language is used, selectively using it to represent or deny their ideological stances, and at the same time fashioning it with their own thoughts, emotions, and volitions to complete their intentions. According to Bakhtin (1981), “all words have the „taste‟ of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour. Each word tastes of life; all words and forms are populated by intentions” (p. 293). Due to this ideological aspect of language, he notes that our language performances are a part of becoming an ideological self. Bakhtin stated, We are taking language not as a system of abstract grammatical categories, but rather language conceived as ideologically saturated, language as a world view, even as a concrete opinion, insuring a maximum of mutual understanding in all spheres of ideological life (as cited in Morris, 2003, p. 74) In opposition to the idea that language performance is only an independent individual act of creating meaning by assembling linguistic forms according to the rules of the language, Bakhtin (1981, 1986) assumes that it is a social act of borrowing, repeating, and appropriating others‟ words. He believes that language always lies on the borderline between a self and the other. Before a speaker appropriates a word by accenting it with his/her own intention, it exists as a word of others first. The speaker takes others‟ words, which served their intentions at a specific social and cultural context
  45. 45. 33 and a specific historical moment of their lives, and repeats them for his/her own purpose in a given place and time. Therefore, the selected words involve not only others‟ specific points of view on the world but also the speaker‟s own evaluation of others‟ voices. Since many voices contribute to an utterance, Bakhtin says that we in fact speak with multiple voices. Language use, which involves contact of a self with others, implicates the speaker‟s conflicts, tensions, and struggles in understanding and forming his/her own worldviews from the differentness of others‟ voices. Bakhtin (1981) calls this kind of nature of speech heteroglossia, introducing two oppositional forces existing in discourse: centripetal and centrifugal. Centripetal forces move toward unification, centralization, and homogenization of our thoughts, values, beliefs, and actions, whereas centrifugal forces move toward their decentralization and heterogeneity. According to Bakhin, these two forces exist simultaneously in humans‟ discursive activities, and affect our ideological process of becoming. The confrontation of these two forces creates havoc on our ways of viewing the world, but it is a starting point where new meanings of language and a new ideological self are created. One example of these struggles is explained in the concepts of authoritative discourse and internally persuasive discourse (Bakhtin, 1981). Bakhtin notes that authoritative discourse is like “the word of the fathers” (p. 342). It is generally conveyed to an individual in a manner of authority, tradition, and formality, and its main role is to unify us by centralizing our views of the world. Because of its embedded authoritative manners, the authoritative discourse “demands that we acknowledge it, [and] that we make it our own” (p. 342), and this enforcement nature causes our struggles with it.
  46. 46. 34 However, Bakhtin also points out that each individual has a different degree of struggle with authoritative discourse, depending on the contexts that he/she has grown up with and his/her relationship with it. Internally persuasive discourse, on the other hand, is from our daily discourse with common people that we can easily encounter. Bakhtin (1981) explains that it is “denied all privilege, backed by no authority at all, and is frequently not even acknowledged in society” (p. 342). Rather, internally persuasive discourse is, “as it is affirmed through assimilation, tightly interwoven with „one‟s own word‟” (p. 345). The internally persuasive word is already half ours; thus it not only represents what we think of who we are but also drives us to become who we want to be. However, it does not block the channel to listen to others‟ voices. In contrast to authoritative discourse, internally persuasive discourse is more flexible and open to change itself with a dialogic interaction with the discourses of others, which is oriented not only to make itself more internally persuasive, but also “to reveal ever newer ways to mean” (p. 346). Bakhtin (1981) notes that authoritative and internally persuasive discourses can “be united in one word,” but “what usually determines the history of an individual consciousness” is not from such unity but from “a sharp gap between these two categories” (p. 324). When an individual notices these differences, he/she tends to have more chances of changing his/herself to a new self. However, this self-transformation process does not occur by itself. An individual has to be in a dialogue with these differences. Therefore, dialogue is characterized by “coexistence of socio-ideological contradictions between the present and the past, between different socio-ideological groups in the present, between tendencies, schools, circles, and so forth, all given a
  47. 47. 35 bodily form” (p. 291). Bakthin explains that the stance of differentness in dialogue is not destined to be synthesized into a finalized truth, but oriented to the generative production of a new meaning and to the better understanding not only in a speaker him/herself but also in other dialogue participants. Notions of being: Unfinalized and dialogic phenomenon. With a view of humans as social beings, Bakhtin (1984) notes that dialogic communication is a prerequisite for our existence in this world. He stated, The very being of man (both external and internal) is the “deepest communion.” “To be” means “to communicate.” Absolute death (not being) is the state of being unheard, unrecognized, unremembered. To be means to be for another, and through the other, for oneself. A person has no internal sovereign territory, he is wholly and always on the boundary; looking inside himself, he looks into the eyes of another with the eyes of another (p. 287). According to him, dialogue “is not a means for revealing, for bringing to the surface the already ready-made characters of a person,” but an on-going action through which “he becomes for the first time what he is” (p. 252). In the state of dialogue, a person is able to see his/her own self-images in relation to others and get an opportunity to encounter others‟ different voices, so that he/she comes to figure out his/her selfhood while examining those differences between the self and the others and questioning his/her own voices. Dialogue always involves the process of construction and reconstruction of self. For this reason, when we stop the dialogue, we lose a chance to see and shape who we are. In the process of self-production, therefore, it is essential to be in contact with others. For Bakhtin (1986), the role of others is especially important because they are the
  48. 48. 36 ones with “whom my thought becomes actual thought for the first time (and thus also for my own self as well)” (p. 94). As my thoughts are recognized by others through dialogue, my self-being also makes an appearance to its outer world. At the same time, the presence of others and my contact with their voices function to be the foundation of my self-being and consciousness. Bakthin (1981) says that “another‟s discourse […] strives to determine the very basis of our ideological interrelations with the world, the very basis of our behavior” (p. 342); therefore, “I cannot do without the other, I cannot become myself without the other; I must find myself in the other, finding the other in me” (p. 185). The significance of dialogic relations with others in the process of self- configuration does not implicate each individual‟s passive role in dialogue. Instead, Bakhtin (1986) views each individual as a creative agent of his/her discursive activity. According to Hicks (2000), “agency entails the ability to take the words of others and accent them in one‟s unique way. Moreover, response entails the ability to read the particulars of a situation and its discourses and engage with those particulars in ethically specific ways” (p. 240). As introduced in the Bakhtinian concept of utterance, each individual bases his/her utterance on the responsive understanding of others‟ utterances and fills it with his/her own intention. Therefore, Holquist (1986) commented that all speakers can be considered as authors and creators of their own utterances from a Bakhtinian perspective. However, this creative agency does not mean that our consciousness can exist free from the time and place that we live in. Instead, its base is the social and cultural spheres of our lives and the relationships with those who we are living with; therefore, creative agency is also bound by the world where we live. Bakhtin
  49. 49. 37 says, “the better a person understands the degree to which he is externally determined […] the closer to home he comes to understanding and exercising his real freedom” (p. 59). The Bakhtinian notion of dialogue also presupposes a difference between conversers. According to Bakhtin (1986), it is essential for an individual to have outsideness from others in order to have a meaningful dialogue. Even when a self and the others are in the contact zone, there is no guarantee that all interlocutors will have a meaningful dialogue if both sides remain identical. Without challenges and tensions coming from outsideness and differentness, it is hard to expect growth of ourselves. As indicated before, the stance of differentness in dialogue, however, is not destined to be synthesized into a finalized truth. Instead, the differentness is oriented to better understanding in participants in dialogue (including a speaker him/herself) and to formation and transformation of a self into a new creative hybridized being. The importance of outsideness also implicates the importance of uniqueness of an individual and his/her equal status with others in dialogue (Bakhtin, 1986). An individual can be different from the other because each of us keeps our own unique individuality. Because of each individual‟s uniqueness, everyone can equally contribute to dialogue. As Bakhtin (1984) explains with reference to Dostoevksy‟s polyphonic novels with their simultaneous existence of plural voices on equal terms between the author and heroes, the uniqueness of and equality between all interlocutors can be referred to as their polyphonic relationship in dialogue. As to the question about why humans have a dialogical relationship with others, Bakhtin (1984) finds the answer in the unfinalized nature of human beings: “As long as a
  50. 50. 38 person is alive he lives by the fact that he is not yet finalized, that he has not yet uttered his ultimate word” (p.59). According to Medvedev and Bakhtin (1978), “compositional finalization is possible in all spheres of ideological creation, but real thematic finalization is impossible” (cited in Morris, 2003, p. 176). Because of this unfinalizability, humans can always have a possibility to change. Learning as socially situated activity. One of the critical concepts that explain how sociocultural theories view learning comes from a community of practice (CoP) framework (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; Wenger, 2006; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Wenger et al. (2002) define communities of practice as “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis” (p. 4). According to this view, humans learn interactively with others while participating in the practices created and developed by their belonged community. A community of practice is a context in which joint learning takes place. According to Wenger et al., the concept of communities of practice has been with us all the time. No matter whether we are aware of their presence or not, they have been everywhere in various names and forms. Although there is a difference in the degree of participation level in each community, each of us has been involved in a number of communities of practice and has been learning with group/community members doing shared practices. However, Wenger et al. (2002) argue that not all communities are a community of practice. There are three major components that constitute it: domain, community, and practice (Wenger, 2006; Wenger et al., 2002). The first element, a domain, indicates a domain of knowledge or topics that matter to community members. The domain is
  51. 51. 39 something that group members are willing to pursue, which in turn functions to have them gather in the beginning of community formation. Therefore, Wenger (2006) indicates that the domain gives an identity to each group. Because the domain represents part of what group members are/do and what they want to be/do, it also provides meaning and value to their actions, which further leads to their strong contribution and commitment to the community. The second structural component of communities of practice is a community, a group of people “who care about the [shared] domain” and create “the social fabric of learning” (Wenger et al., 2002, p. 27). Getting together around a shared interest does not necessarily make a community a community of practice unless group members try to learn from each other while maintaining their interactions over time. In the process of building a relationship through consistent communications, group members not only develop knowledge and skills important to the domain of their interests, but also develop a mutual engagement and “a sense of belonging and mutual commitment” (p. 34). Wenger et al. state that characteristics of a strong community of practice can be found in the relationship among group members, which is based on “respect and trust,” “homogeneity and diversity,” “voluntary participation,” “distributed leadership,” “reciprocity,” and “openness” (p. 35-37). The last constituent component of a community of practice is a practice, a set of shared knowledge that community members develop, which includes not only specific ways of doing things but also specific ways of seeing, thinking, and understanding. Wenger (2006) views that group members are “practitioners” in that “they develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring
  52. 52. 40 problems—in short a shared practice” (para. 5). In developing, sharing, maintaining, and adjusting those resources over time, community members come to find ways to approach the problems they face more efficiently and to gain more common ground to identify with other community members. In most cases, community members learn about shared practices while performing them in an actual situation; thus, practices are situated in a specific context, but not always recognized and learned by all community members in an explicitly and formally articulated format. In order for a community to be a community of practice, Wenger at al. (2002) claim that all these three components should be in place together. If one is missing, a community cannot be qualified to be a community of practice. For instance, they distinguish a community of practice from a community of interest. In both communities, people are drawn to a certain topic and make a commitment to know more about it. However, the main purpose of the community of interest is to access knowledge, not to develop and expand knowledge; thus interactions through shared practices are not necessary among the community of interest members. It is also described that a community of practice is different from a general friend network. Although informal networks also show connectivity between members, this connection is not necessarily around the shared domain of interest; thus, commitment to the domain is not a requirement to have a legitimate membership in informal networks whereas it is so in communities of practice. Although all three major components are essential to develop and maintain communities of practice, stability in one component can also help the communities to proceed even when they are in a transition stage (Wenger et al., 2002). As time goes by,
  53. 53. 41 small and sometimes big changes are inevitable within the communities. For example, a domain of interest can be shifted as new topics come up, a relationships among community members can change as people come and go, and practices can change as members try to find a better way to tackle the topics. When the changes in the three components occur at the same time, the communities are at risk of disintegrating. However, if at least one element stays strong and stable, it can help “facilitate a transition in another [component]” (p. 47). As Wenger et al. noticed, “the synergy between domain, community, and practice…help a community evolve and fulfill its potential” (p. 47). In terms of how learning is processed in communities of practice, Lave and Wenger (1991) state that learning involves a process of legitimate peripheral participation, which indicates the notion that “learners inevitably participate in communities of practitioners and that the mastery of knowledge and skill requires newcomers to move toward full participation in the sociocultural practices of a community” (p. 29). In this model of learning, learning is not simply a cognitive process of acquiring decontextualized knowledge, and does not simply happen only in the heads of learners. Instead, learning, as a situated activity, is a constituent element of all social practice and an essential part of the process of coming to belong to a community. In the process of legitimate peripheral participation, legitimacy and peripherality are the key characteristic conditions in which a learner becomes a full participant in a particular community. Lave and Wenger (1991) explain that the legitimacy of participation is about “ways of belonging” that a learner develops a status or a membership that is legitimately accepted by their community members, which enables them to access resources of the community (p. 35). Legitimacy is not automatically
  54. 54. 42 granted to members simply by having a passion for the common domain of interest. In addition to that, the members also need to earn legitimacy by gaining reputation, respect, and trust from other community members, grounded on their mutual engagement and commitment to the domain and the community. Through this process, the members create “a sense of common history and identity” (Wenger et al., 2002, p. 35). The process of developing a membership in a community is necessary for a newcomer to become a full participant; however, it is not a process of getting identical to other community members in every aspect. Gaining legitimacy leads a newcomer to be part of the community, but he/she does not have to lose his/her own selfhood in that process. Instead, a good community encourages members to stay different from others by using and developing their own unique knowledge throughout the community practices. Through this process, Wenger et al. (2002) posit that people “achieve a status and generate their own personal sphere of influence within the community” and “develop a unique individual identity in relation to the community” (p. 35). In addition to legitimacy, Lave and Wenger (1991) add that the learner also has to keep a status of being peripheral—related to ongoing social practices of the community in “multiple, varied, more- or less-engaged and inclusive ways of participation”—in order to complete the process of legitimate peripheral participation in the community of practice (p. 36). This status of peripheral participation indicates varying degrees of engagement of and responsibilities for the practices of a community, which eventually provides newcomers/learners with freedom to be more open to change, to have more dynamic involvement in their social activities, and to develop skills and knowledge at their own pace. Ideally, participation is, therefore, voluntary in communities of practice.
  55. 55. 43 Through this view of the learning process as legitimate peripheral participation, Lave and Wenger (1991) stress that learning becomes “an integral part of generative social practice in the lived-in world” (p. 35). This entails changes not only in the learner‟s cognition but also in his or her identities in the process of becoming a member of the community. Because learning is inherently situated in specific social activities, it unquestionably involves a relation of a self to a particular community and entails the process of becoming a certain kind of person. Therefore, Packer and Goicoechea (2000) add that viewing learning as a socially situated activity means to adopt the point that “gaining knowledge or understanding is an integral part of broader ontological changes that stem from participation in a community” (p. 234). L2 learning and sociocultural approaches. Sociocultural approaches implicate that language, whether it is a first or a second language, is a mediational means with which humans are able to control their interpersonal and intrapersonal activities. It enables humans to reach a higher level of mental functioning and to contact with the social environments. In addition, sociocultural approaches view that language always exists as speech communication. It is socially, culturally, and historically situated; thus, it is embedded in the time and place, the context where speakers live. The process of communication is not simply about coding and decoding linguistic systems as a neutral medium, but about the process of controlling our social interactions and thinking, encountering world views, constructing our own voices, and transforming ourselves into new beings. From sociocultural perspectives, L2 learners try to increase their ability to control their “psychological and social activity through the [new] language” (Lantolf, 2000, p. 6).
  56. 56. 44 They are not simply a passive learning device that processes only input and output of L2. Instead, as Wertsch (1998) views individuals as “agents-operating-with-mediational- means,” L2 learners are active-agents-operating-with-a new language, who are trying to connect themselves with a new world (p. 12). In addition, L2 learners are active, creative, and dialogic beings who are in contact with the past, present, and future. They are social beings who are continuously trying to belong to L2 communities, (albeit to different degrees), and come to figure out who they are through the dialogue with others in the outer world. Norton (2000) states that “when language learners speak, they are not only exchanging information with target languages speakers, but they are constantly organizing and reorganizing a sense of who they are and how they relate to the social world” (p. 11). Therefore, L2 learning, firstly, is a process of mastering a new mediational tool, which affects learners‟ psychological and social worlds; that is, it is a process of interpersonal and intrapersonal transformation while controlling the second language as a mediational tool (Lantolf, 2000). Secondly, L2 learning can be considered as a process of “the struggle of participation” (Pavlenko & Lantolf, 2000, p. 156). Second language learning is not simply for language learners to accumulate new linguistic knowledge and skills for future reference; rather, it is an essential part of the participation process in practices of L2 communities that they are currently involved in and/or want to belong to. Second language learning consists of social practices that provide opportunities to meet different others in a community, to come to know its speech genre, and to master it to fully carry out discursive practices required for its social activities. Therefore, as Zuengler and Miller (2006) suggest, language development can be observed not simply
  57. 57. 45 from the learners‟ language knowledge and communicative competence, but from his or her “change from limited to fuller participation in social practices involving their second language” (p. 41). Through this participation process, thirdly, second language learners consequently experience ontological as well as epistemological changes (Robbins, 2003). L2 Learning in Web 2.0 Environments L2 learning and literacy practices with Web 2.0 technologies outside of school contexts have just begun to be explored in the field of second language education. Among a few, Lam (2000) conducted pioneering ethnographic research on online L2 literacy practices of Almon, a Chinese immigrant teenager living in the United States. The study showed how online literacy activities helped Almon to transform himself from a negative and marginalized self, who was struggling in a formal school environment and concerned about his limited English proficiency and its potential influence on his future career, to a positive and affiliated self, developed through active participation in online discourse activities within the J-pop community. Lam argued that Almon‟s textual activities, such as designing a personal website1 introducing a J-pop singer and corresponding with J-pop fans through the online guest book, ICQ (an online chatting program), and email, contributed to his development of global affiliations with those interested in J-pop culture. As a result, the affiliating textual activities with the J-pop culture and its global fans provided him with opportunities to successfully represent who he was, and at the same time to be transformed into an active communicator in English, which he had hardly experienced in his formal school settings. Lam‟s study showed that 1 O‟Reilly (2005) categorized personal websites into the types of Web 1.0. However, considering his definition of Web 2.0 as not necessarily meaning the advent of new technology but the change of people‟s minds on how to use the Web, I‟d like to consider Almon‟s use of his personal website, which combined different types of CMC tools, as an example of Web 2.0 media in that it promoted his participation in J-pop culture through its improved networking features.
  58. 58. 46 these online practices with Internet-based media, characterized by representation and transformation of a self in the affiliation process, can provide an opportunity for L2 learners not only to improve their L2 proficiency but also to learn the ways of participating in L2 discourse communities. Black (2006) also explored L2 literacy activities of a Chinese adolescent immigrant living in Canada, named Nanako, on the online fanfiction site Fanfiction.net. Black focused on the role of popular fan culture among youth, a Japanese anime and manga in this study, and of information communication technology embedded in this fanfiction website in the development of Nanako‟s English writing skills and the change of her online identities. When Nanako first immigrated to Canada, she was 11 years old, and spoke mainly Mandarin Chinese. During the first semester of school in Canada, she experienced a hard time in learning subjects and making friends due to her limited English. However, while participating in social and discursive activities on Fanfiction.net (such as reading other authors‟ fan fiction first, publicly posting her own fan fiction, and receiving readers‟ feedback later), she started to build her image as a successful, popular fan fiction writer on the site, and to improve her writing abilities concomitantly. Black (2005, 2006, 2007) posited that the success of Nanako could be attributed to the hybrid and participatory nature of the Fanfiction.net website where dialogic resources (such as mixed plots and characters of existing fan media, positive and constructive critique from fan members, and different modes of representation, expression, and interaction) were provided in the networked computer environments. The study conducted by Lam and Rosario-Ramos (2009) also showed an example of literacy practices of immigrant youths living in the U.S. with digital media. On the
  59. 59. 47 basis of survey data collected from 262 foreign-born immigrant adolescents and interview data from 35 focal teenage participants, the study found that the immigrant youths were utilizing Internet-mediated digital media (e.g., email, social networking sites, text- or video-based chat programs, and personal website/blog) to maintain close relationships with family members and friends across countries (which include the country of their origin and the United States where they were living) and to seek out for transnational sources of information about social events. Here, the use of multiple languages of immigrant teenagers played an important role of accessing resources of information and forming their own social network beyond their physical national boundaries, and valued and promoted their multilingual abilities in return. According to Lam and Rosario-Ramos, these digital literacy activities encouraged immigrant teenagers to keep and develop not only their mother tongue but also English proficiency by diversifying their “access to linguistic resources” (p. 183), and enabled them to see social events from bifocal or multiple perspectives. Lam and Rosario-Ramos also emphasized that “the students‟ multilingual development is integral to their continued participation in social relationships and information networks that cross geographical borders” (p. 183). The findings of the previous studies have led to strong explanatory relationships between L2 learning viewed from sociocultural perspectives and L2 literacy and learning practices encouraged in Web 2.0 environments. For example, the studies showed that L2 learning and literacy practices of the research participants were taking place in the interactive and cooperative ambience of the Web 2.0-based services. Through prompt, affirmative, and constructive responses from community members, the L2 users could recognize themselves not as struggling learners of L2 but as positive and confident L2

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