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Language Learning and Information Systems and Communication (Alsic)

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Linguistics -- Research, Social media -- Research, Language learning and language teaching


Over much of the world, contemporary communicative practices are mediated by a wide range of digital technologies that support speech, image, video, and of course textual literacies. In dialectic tension with the rapid growth in digital information and communication media, Internet information and communication technologies have amplified conventional communicative practices in terms of breadth, impact and speed and have also enabled the emergence of new communicative, cultural and cognitive practices. These practices form dynamic cultures-of-use - that is, communication tools and the human activities they mediate co-evolve (Thorne, 2003). This article begins with a review of contradictory appraisals of digital media. This is followed by a discussion of the social and semiotic contexts comprising the widely played massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, with a view toward better understanding its usefulness as a setting for language use and learning. This game environment is explored using three forms of evidence, (1) unsolicited reports from players appearing in player-to-player online discussion forums, (2 ) elicited descriptions of players' experience provided through questionnaires distributed to Dutch and American gamers, and (3 ) a formal assessment of the linguistic complexity of high frequency game-presented and player-generated texts. By way of conclusion, we elaborate on the necessity of an "open source epistemology" (Lankshear and Knobel, 2006) and a critical language awareness approach to developing and acknowledging a diversity of communicative practices, all of which are aimed at expanding the goals, and outcomes, of instructed L2 education.


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