Exploring second language (L2) learners' language learning experience in social networking environments
Cho, Young Sang
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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 findings of this study, some implications for L2 educators were made in regard to developing constructive language learning environments.