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  • 2019HourdequinPhD

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Multilingual computer-mediated communication practice and the development of symbolic competence: insider research from a Japanese university

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Peter Hourdequin
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Publication date2019
Number of pages312
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Amidst a rapid global proliferation of digital social media, Japanese youth have been adopting, adapting, and developing a diversity of multilingual computer mediated communication (CMC) practices on a variety of digital platforms. Previous research has pointed to commonalities in these practices with the practices of youth in other locales, but also to unique localized ways that Japanese youth communicate across digital media.
This quasi-ethnographic case study was designed to explore English language learners’ multilingual CMC practices and perceptions from within a mediumsized private regional university in central Japan, and to point to pedagogical affordances that might lead to the development of symbolic competence. The project operates within a social constructivist paradigm and employs a theoretical approach largely consistent with cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), but also drawing upon other theoretical traditions. Data were collected using narrative frames and field notes gathered during long-term participant observation that constituted insider research at the research site.
The rationale for this study comes from the researcher’s interest in exploring ways that new technological affordances can best be used to enhance educational outcomes in a Japanese higher education context. Beyond the design affordances and constraints of various CMC technologies, myriad local factors and cultural assumptions were seen to contribute to the ‘cultures of use’ that inform students’ multilingual and multimodal interactions through various media.
This research revealed that students rapidly develop new multilingual CMC practices through their interactions with their peers after entering university and returning from study abroad. A significant lack of broader media literacy, however, was seen to impede the development of symbolic competence. Pedagogical recommendations are offered to overcome this and other barriers to the development of symbolic competence.