This article describes second language uses of Internet communication tools, Web environments, and online gaming, and critically reviews existing research and emerging technologies representing diverse pedagogical conditions in three distinct computer-mediated configurations: (1) instructed and institutional intraclass discussion and interclass partnerships, (2) transcultural partnerships and structured participation in “open” Internet environments, and (3) interaction in ongoing Internet-mediated environments that include popular culture blogs and Web sites, fanfiction communities, language and/or culture communities, and online games. We propose that a critical-and-constructive appraisal of existing and emerging digital media, communicative genres, literacy practices, and the communities made possible through them, can help to forge more responsive, and more ecologically responsible, language-learning opportunities for students who are expected to navigate increasingly mediated social and professional worlds.
Steve Thorne is Assistant Professor in the department of Applied Linguistics and Associate Director of the Center for Language Acquisition at the Pennsylvania State University. He also serves as the Advisor for Mediated Learning at the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (a national foreign language resource center). His research focuses on cultural historical activity theory, computer-assisted language learning, new media literacies, second language acquisition, and themes contributing to social theory and critical pedagogy. 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, and Intelligence, among other venues. His book length works include a co-edited volume on Internet-mediated Intercultural Foreign Language Education (Thomson/Heinle, 2006) and the co-authored monograph Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second Language Development (Oxford University Press, 2006).
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Rebecca Black is an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Irvine. Her principal research interests include the use of ethnographic and discourse analytic methods to investigate the online literacy and social practices of adolescent English language learners in online spaces. She is the author of one book, Adolescents and Online Fan Fiction (Peter Lang Press), several book chapters, and has published articles in leading journals in the areas of education and literacy research.
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