Hey Siri: Should #language, �, and follow me be taught?: A historical review of evolving communication conventions across digital media environments and uncomfortable questions for language teachers

Lotherington, H.& Bradley, N. (2024). Hey Siri: Should #language, �, and follow me be taught?:A historical review of evolving communication conventions across digital media environments and
uncomfortable questions for language teachers. Language Learning and Technology, 28 (1) 1-19

This article describes a research project prompted by

” … the perceived deepening gap between the content of and approaches to language instruction evident in popular MALL apps and the sophisticated evolutions in language in form and use during the past three decades.” p. 2.

The authors conducted a wide-ranging environmental scan of academic journals that publish articles on digitally mediated language and language teaching and learning applications. They followed this scan with an in-depth focused literature review documenting advances in technology and changes in social communication since the inception of the world wide web.

Following on this research and review of the literature the researchers contend that, the… “how, when, where, why, with whom, and how often people communicate has transformed and been transformed across historical waves of sociotechnical advancement.” p.1.

They add a fourth historical phase of linguistic theorizing to the three phases  as described by Xia :  Traditional prescriptivist grammar;  Structuralism; Functionalism. This fourth historical phase they describe as Digital convergence and posthumanism.

Digital convergence is the idea that all analogue media types have coalesced in a single digital medium and posthumanism is a theory which posits a world in which we are, often unknowingly, interacting with voice activated software. For example, many of us use devices such as Alexa and Google Nest in our homes and sport networked wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Note:  (For an accessible outline of posthumanism see: What is Posthumanism?.

In this context the authors contend that language theories and practices need to be updated to address the needs of language learners in an era of digital communication. They argue that a traditional focus on language teaching methods intended for print resources and linear communicative practices are not sufficient to support language learners to participate fully and to live and work in societies where many forms of digital communication are essential. Finally, they pose the question, ” How will language teaching thread digital communication norms into English language learning so learners can survive the real tests of digital integration?” (p.12.)

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