The impact of playing a transnational on-line game on Korean EFL learners’ L2 identity and their offline learning dispositions
Jeon, Sang Ah
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The rapid growth of computer-mediated communication (CMC) which has become available through the development of new communication technologies provides many English learners with relatively more opportunities for exposure to international communicative activities in English than they had in the pre-digital era. This phenomenon has attracted research attention to the question of the use of digital literacy practices as a means of second language education. There have been many studies on CMC and second language education, however, little is known about EFL learners’ L2 identity (second language identity) development in online gaming communities and its possible significant effects on L2 learners’ motivation and learning success. Through narrative interviews with 10 Korean EFL learners in their twenties, this research explores how young adult Korean EFL learners’ online communication experiences in English while playing a massively multiplayer online game, League of Legends, influenced their L2 identity evolvement and how their constructed L2 identity impacted their offline learning attitudes. Narrative interviews were conducted and the interview data were processed with a thematic analysis in order to identify thematic patterns while trying to allow categories which could be identified from the data as well. The findings indicated that the participants had realized important factors of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) paradigm through text-based interactions in online gaming contexts. They realized that English is used as a contact language in a global community, that there are varieties of English as well as so-called native English speakers’ in the community, and that pragmatic use of English focusing on intelligibility rather than on accuracy is important for efficient communication. Their realization of some concepts of ELF paradigm was helpful for them to be confident and motivated in using and learning their target language not only in online communities but also in offline situations. Although it is a small-scale study, it has been able to fill some gaps in knowledge into what sort of factors can positively influence EFL learners’ L2 identity construction and how out-of-class virtual activities can affect EFL learners’ overall learning dispositions such as their confidence and motivation in using and learning the language. Even though adverse effects stemming from the addiction to video games have caused social problems around the world, the insights gained from this study could demonstrate that there are a number of potential qualities of online gaming communities. The characteristics of the online gaming community that were found to positively influence EFL learners’ learning attitudes might be conducive to the classroom practice or utilized as out-of-class learning activities, especially for young adult learners. For example, the egalitarian relationship among the gaming community members might be an important factor that English teachers could reflect on in terms of creating a constructive learning environment in their classes. Also, EFL learners might utilize the opportunities of using English in various online communities according to their interests to enhance the overall construction of their positive L2 identity and ultimate learning success.
EdD in TESOL