Reflection on L2 Literacy and Design of the self: A Case Study of a Teenager Writing on the Internet

In the article, Lam (2000) examines how texts are composed and used to present and reposition identity as well as develop the literacy of the learner in online communication. In the beginning of the article, the author introduces constructs from L2 literacy research and communication studies to develop a conceptual basis for the study. A case study of a Chinese immigrant teenager is then presented to show how his written correspondence with a transnational group of peers on the Internet relates to his identity in the use of English.

In the case study, Almon (a Chinese immigrant teenager) felt frustrated owning to his insufficient English skills. Also, he revealed a sense of his marginalized position in society and was afraid that it would hinder his prospects in life. However, one year later, the author found that Almon’s English improved dramatically, especially the written English. Almon explained that he had become actively involved in learning internet and started to make personal homepages and conduct online chat. It is believed that the electronic media helped him a lot. Writing online made him feel more at ease.

The results of the study show actually Almon designed a textual identity. He designed his personal homepage about young Japanese popular singer and chatted with people all around the world. Thus, he discursively constructed his new identity as a member of the global J-pop community. Almon’s preference for female pan-pals demonstrates the gendering aspects of their written exchanges, which proves dramaturgical view of social interaction.

This case study suggests that writing on the Internet could make people gain understandings and supports from a transnational group of peers so that people may feel confidence in expressing themselves in L2. Lam (2000) also proposes that we need to rethink the significance of identity formation in the process of learning to read and write in an L2. And it should be noted that the English acquired may not be Standard English by this way, but people develop a sense of belonging to a global English community. Therefore, it is recommended that ESL classroom should not only teach Standard English but also provide the opportunity for the students to get access to multiple target languages and cultural communities.

Many students in China are frustrated in English and indulge themselves in Internet. Maybe the teachers and parents should encourage them to use Internet to enhance their English learning instead of forbidding them to use the computer. In the class, the teachers could give the students some guidance on how the utilize the Internet resources and help them to build their own personal home pages by using English. After class, the students could work on their personal home pages and design the websites as they like. They could post anything and chat with their pen-pals freely. As the students could pretend to be anyone and create alternative self on the Internet, they may become more confident in expressing themselves. And it will motivate them to study English.

“Language, Culture and Identity in Online Fanfiction” (Rebecca W. Black, 2006): Summary and Reflection

The article explores how network technologies and popular culture provide a context in which the English Language Learner (ELL) could develop English language and writing skills. Meanwhile the adolescent ELL is able to develop an online identity as a popular, multiliterate writer.

The main character of the case study is Nanako, a Chinese girl who immigrated to Canada when she was 11. She did not speak any English at that time. But her interest in anime urged her to learn English and write anime-based fanfictions in English on Over years, her English has improved a lot and she has achieved the identity of a popular writer in the space.

To be frank, I have never thought that we could enhance our language learning through writing fanfictions on However, after reading the article, I find that is really a fantastic website. Firstly, if you want to write on the website, you’d better write in English as most readers of the website are English readers. Then, it can practice our English writing skills. Moreover, participation in this online space can make people feel confidence and motivate people to continue writing and English language learning. Readers’ support and acknowledgement mean a lot to the writer. Once receiving numerous encouraging reviews from readers, the writer will be encouraged to work harder. The website provides a relatively safe, supportive environment for language learning and writing development. It serves as platform for members to negotiate linguistic and cultural difference in a way that emphasize connection across potential barriers. Also, the site facilitates cultural communication between people from different countries. One thing impresses me a lot is that Nanako incorporated Mandarin and Japanese into her narrative writing, which received positive responds. Later on, she shared more “rich history and culture” of China and Japan with her readers. It is one of the reasons that she could be a popular writer in the space.

However, I’m wondering whether Chinese English learners could achieve the success that Nanako has made by participating popular culture communities. The case of Nanako is few in the world. As an immigrant in Canada, Nanako is immersed in an English environment. She has to learn English for a living while most Chinese students lack the motivation of learning English. Maybe students need an impetus to promote their learning. As far as I know, one of my friends loves seeing English movies. So he joined an organization of translating subtitles of the film. Though the task of translation spends him a lot of time, he still feels happy as he could help people who love seeing English films in China. As time goes on, he has made great progress in English. Thus, I think interest is an important element in English learning. Teachers should try to capture students’ attention and raise their interest in English. Introducing popular culture to the class may be a useful way to achieve the goal.