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The effects and functions of speaker status in CALL-oriented communities

Do you know how to change your relationship status on Facebook? What about your language status?

In most web2.0 contexts, what languages you speak at which level and at which point in your life you acquired them is less important than your gender, age, or music preference. In language learning communities and affinity spaces (Gee 2004) , though, your language status, specifically of what language(s) you are a ‚legitimate‘ native speaker and of which language(s) you are a learner, is forefronted.

Language status, in this context, will be viewed as a socially constructed phenomenon rather than a linguistic or cognitive fact, i.e. the focus will be on how native speaker status is negotiated, attributed, or contested. In short: How is „being a native speaker“ done at language learning communities and affinity spaces?

This presentation will look at the function of „native-speakerness“ and „language-learnerness“ in a wide varieties of CALL-oriented online communities and affinity spaces (online forum, MOOC, blogging community, other) from three different perspectives:
(a) User settings: How is language status established at language learning communities? What affordances (e.g., user profile) are available for ‚setting‘ one‘s language status, and what assumptions about native-speakerhood underlie them?
(b) Affordances: What effects do language status settings have on the user experience via such means as information filtering, availability of specific affordances, etc.?
(c) Interactions: How is language status established in or reflected by interactions? What effects do language status settings have on social interactions? How do these impact language learning?

The presentation aims to begin a discussion about the effect of language status attributions on learners as well as the pedagogic and linguistic assumptions behind ‚putting the native speaker into the product‘.

Gee, James Paul. 2004. Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York: Routledge.


Judith Buendgens-Kosten    
Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Doctorate degree in English linguistics at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. MA in Online and Distance Education at Open University, UK.


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