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Vol 28, No. 2 (January 2011)

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Social Networking in an Intensive English Program Classroom: A Language Socialization Perspective

Jonathon Reinhardt, University of Arizona
Victoria Zander, University of Arizona

Abstract:
This ongoing project seeks to investigate the impact, inside and outside of class, of instruction focused on developing learner awareness of social-networking site (SNS) use in an American Intensive English Program (IEP). With language socialization as an interpretative framework (Duff, in press; Ochs, 1988; Watson-Gegeo, 2004), the project uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative classroom research techniques to follow cohorts of intermediate-level students during instruction and by tracing their SNS use over time (e.g. Knobel & Lankshear, 2008). Informed by a bridging-activities model (Thorne & Reinhardt, 2008) and situated-learning principles (Gee, 2004; Lave & Wenger, 1991), the instruction was designed to develop experiential and critical awareness of SNS practices as a means to learn English in the IEP community. Results from the pilot implementation reported here show that SNS awareness instruction can promote, and align with, discourses that affirm English-as-an-international-language values (Sharifian, 2009) and also promote learner-learner interaction and the development of transcultural, plurilingual identities. However, it was also found that learners may resist educational use of an SNS when it conflicts with home discourses that value more utilitarian, traditional forms of instruction.

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