Plenary by Steven L. Thorne

This plenary talk looks at out-of-school L2 digital engagement in environments such as social media, fan-fiction communities and online gaming.

About the session

Awareness, appropriacy, and living language use

There has been a great deal of research and pedagogical experimentation relating to technology use within second and foreign language (L2) education. This presentation broadens the scope of inquiry to examine entirely out-of-school L2 digital engagement in environments such as social media, fan-fiction communities and online gaming. The presentation argues first for the efficacy of a usage-based model of second language development and the benefits of explicitly addressing genre awareness and pragmatic appropriateness as core assets in the language learning process. I then present a pedagogical framework designed to increase the relevance of instructed L2 education through the structured juxtaposition of digital vernaculars with more formal 'classroom' genres of language use, an approach I and colleagues are calling bridging activities (e.g., Thorne & Reinhardt, 2008). In conclusion, an argument is made for the continued exploration of new media genres of language use and their selective inclusion into instructed L2 pedagogy, processes, and curricula.

About the speaker

Steve Thorne holds faculty appointments in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Portland State University and in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. His interests and research include cultural-historical and usage-based approaches to language development, language use and learning in new media and online gaming environments, and theoretical investigations of language, communication, and development. He is currently working on a variety of projects that examine technology-mediated language learning occurring within and outside of formal educational settings, ancestral language maintenance and revitalization among the Yup'ik in Alaska, and with colleagues at the University of Groningen, is exploring the conceptual consequences of divergent theories of second language development. His research has appeared in numerous edited collections as well as the Handbook of New Literacies, Encyclopedia of Language and Education, and the Modern Language Journal, Language Learning & Technology, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, CALICO Journal, Language Teaching, Brain & Cognition, and Intelligence, among other venues. His book length works include a co-edited book on Internet-mediated Intercultural Foreign Language Education (Thomson/Heinle, 2006) and the co-authored volume Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second Language Development (Oxford University Press, 2006).

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