Young L2-learners' meaning-making in engaging in computer-assisted language learning

Anna Hell, Anna-Lena Godhe, Eva Wennås Brante

Abstract

This study explores how newly arrived young students created meaning, communicated, and expressed themselves using digital technology in the subject of Swedish as a second language (SSL).  The qualitative case study presented in this article focuses on how the orchestration of teaching contributed to opportunities for digital meaning-making in the SSL subject in four classrooms at three schools in a city in Sweden. The notion of language as being fluid, which involves a critical approach to languages as separable entities, considers linguistic and embodied meaning-making, including digital technology, in social processes. This approach recognizes the roles of technology and digital meaning-making in young students’ second language acquisition. Moreover, technological innovations facilitate immediate and accessible communication.  In today’s language studies, ethnicity only is not considered an adequate focus of analysis. Furthermore, the meaning-making practices of newly arrived primary school-aged students remain under-investigated. In the present study, data collected in classroom observations and teacher interviews revealed three themes regarding the students’ utilization of digital technology to develop their multilingual skills. One insight was that the newly arrived students used digital technology strategically when they engaged in meaning-making activities with peers and teachers. When the students took the initiative in computer-assisted language learning, they displayed agency in meaning-making by being their own architects. The findings of this research provided insights into how the orchestration of teaching in Swedish as a second language to newly arrived students affects their opportunities to use multilingualism in meaning-making while employing digital technology.


Keywords

Digital meaning-making; multilingual practice; newly arrived students; orchestration; second language acquisition; Swedish as a second language; translanguaging

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