Bridging Activities: Social Media for Connecting Language Learners' in-School and Out-of-School Literacy Practices

Bridging Activities: Social Media for Connecting Language Learners' in-School and Out-of-School Literacy Practices

Ellen Yeh (Columbia College Chicago, USA) and Svetlana Mitric (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2020070104


This study applied pedagogically-focused project design by using Instagram as a platform to investigate how the use of social media such as Instagram in a multimodal digital storytelling model could bridge the skills English language learners (ELLs) learn in the classroom to out-of-school literacy practices. The study applied the five learning objectives of the bridging-activities framework to investigate to what extent ELLs achieve these objectives. There were forty-two participants (female: n= 22; male: n= 17), international arts and media students. The study collected their main Instagram posts, questionnaires were given with a five-point Likert scale and open-ended questions, and individual follow-up interviews for content analysis. A cross-tabulation was conducted to investigate the relationships between ELLs' Instagram use and how they perceive Instagram as a meaningful way of communication for professional purposes. The findings revealed pedagogical practices of using Instagram as a tool for professional purposes and how ELLs achieved the bridging-activities learning outcomes.
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Theoretical Frameworks

Bridging-Activities Framework

Bridging activities, an instructional framework proposed by Thorne and Reinhardt (2008) derived from multiliteracies pedagogy (New London Group, 1996) and language awareness-based pedagogy (Carter, 1998), aims to foster technology-mediated second language (L2) teaching and learning. While language learners bridge their daily experiences and practices with their schooling, their language proficiency and awareness could increase by being exposed to more meaning-making practices through social and cultural interaction. Through these practices, language learners are able to develop their language awareness of the grammatical and lexical use in the target language and critically consider ways to use the language appropriately in various interpersonal, social, and cultural contexts (Halliday & Matthiesen, 2004). Further, raising L2 learners’ critical awareness fosters their cyberpragmatics (“the analysis of how information is produced and interpreted within the Internet environment;” Yus, 2011, p. 13) and allows them to analyze conventions to bridge in-class activities with their technology-mediated language use in the “real world” (Thorne & Reinhardt, 2008).

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