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 www.fanfiction.net. 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 www.fanfiction.net. However, after reading the article, I find that www.fanfiction.net 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.