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Title: Digital Literacies for English Language Learners: A Multimodal Social Semiotic Approach to Investigate Saudi Students’ Reading of English Tweets
Authors: Afnan, Alaloula
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Digital technologies affect how we use and learn languages and challenge our traditional understanding of literacy, as acknowledged by the New London Group (1996) in its reconceptualisation of literacy as a social practice and a complex meaning-making system. This qualitative study aims to contribute to the still nascent field of digital literacies by investigating the self-directed digital reading practices of Saudi university students when reading Tweets in English. Moreover, the study builds on the existing literature on social network sites and language learning by applying a multimodal lens to discover the reading practices beyond the skills of decoding written language. The participants were 14 students studying English as a foreign language at a university in Saudi Arabia. Data were collected over 10 weeks through semistructured reflective journals, in which the participants documented three English Tweets they read weekly and explained their meaning, together with face-to-face interviews to understand their digital reading practices. The semi-structured reflective journals were analysed using multimodal social semiotics (Bezemer and Kress, 2016) and the interviews using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The findings demonstrated that the participants read a wide range of English Tweets composed of different multimodal resources based on the authors’ interests. When interpreting the English Tweets, the findings showed that the participants attended not only to the multimodal resources in the Tweets but also to other resources within and outside Twitter. Despite the reported affordances of the multimodal environment on Twitter, the challenges of interpreting English Tweets indicated some lack in the participants’ digital literacies. The study concludes with pedagogical implications to support language learners’ use of social network sites effectively and critically, outlining future research directions in language education and digital literacies.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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