L2 Identity, Discourse, and Social Networking in Russian
As the integration of Internet-based social networking tools becomes increasingly popular in foreign language classrooms, the use of modern communication technologies is particularly critical in the context of less commonly taught languages (LCTLs), where student exposure to the target language and its speakers is usually minimal. This paper describes communicative exchanges between native speakers and non-native speakers (NS-NNS) in a telecollaborative project that spanned two semesters and brought a rich and authentic social networking community, VKontakte, into college-level Russian classes in the United States. The analysis of the students’ online activities, phenomenological interviews, and interactions with Russian keypals grounded in the principles of identity construction through interaction (Bucholtz & Hall, 2005) and Discourse Analysis Framework (Gee, 2005) shed light on the students’ emerging online second language (L2) identities along the continuum from L2 learners to L2 users. Along with global and local categories of L2 identity enactment in virtual social spaces, we bring into focus the notions of digital wisdom (Prensky, 2009) and investment (Norton, 2000), while exploring the ways in which learners of LCTLs, such as Russian, draw on Internet mediation in order to compensate for the lack of contact with the L2 and to extend social connections beyond the confines of a language classroom.
Language Learning and Technology