There is a growing body of literature that takes interest in the effectiveness and overall role of ICTs in language and literacy education. Yet, the foci of these studies are often on toddlers, children and adolescents (e.g. Flewitt, 2011; Makin and Whitehead, 2004; Merchant, 2015; Omerbasic, 2015) or on FE and university students within a formal, institutionalized classroom setting (e.g. Bhatt, 2012; Bhatt et al. 2015; Price-Dennis et al.,2015). Moreover, these studies are mostly concerned with how technologies affect first language and literacy acquisition. Although there is literature that is concerned with adult language learners’ involvement with ICTs outside the formal classroom setting (e.g. Blommaert and Velghe; 2012, 2014), I argue that the L2 digital literacy practices of adult migrants, particularly of those who did not undergo formal schooling here in Great Britain, or elsewhere, are underrepresent in current language education literature. Therefore, I propose to conduct postgraduate research that has its focal point on the digital literacy practices of newly arrived adult migrant language and literacy learners. Hence, my research question for my sample study within my PhD research is as following:
(2) Research Question:
What are the digital language and literacy practices, specifically those involving smartphones, of newly arrived, adult migrant language learners with limited and/or interrupted formal schooling here in Leeds, particularly outside the ESOL classroom?
(3) Research Methodology
This sample study follows an qualitative, ethnographic approach; Flewitt (2011) argues that when multimodal data and ethnographic research approaches are combined, rich insights into (digital) literacy practices with diverse technologies can be given. Flewitt (2011:302) further makes the point that by following an ethnographic approach, the practices and beliefs from a participant’s perspective can be further observed in greater detail. The researcher (2011:307) hence argues that for a deeper level of understanding digital literacy practices, research is dependent on ethnographic data.
I plan to conduct one (max. 60min) video-recorded, multimodal, semi structured interview with open-end questions with one male participant, who has been in Leeds since the beginning of 2016. The participant is in his early twenties. I have pre-selected this individual, as a potential participants as he (1) fits the aforementioned criteria, (2) owns a smartphone and frequently engages with digital literacy practices and (3) is a confident speaker of English. The interview will take place in April 2016, after the prospective participant has given consent, well rounded interview questions have been drafted, and ethical clearance from the University of Leeds has been approved.
I aim to record the interview in a multimodal manner; on the one hand, the interview will be video recorded. Here I plan to record the interviewee and the interviewer (myself), so nonverbal communication (e.g. kinesics and proxemics) between both parties can be recorded and analyzed if needed. Using video recording will not only allow me to capture underlying, nonverbal acts of communication, but will also enable me to record his engagement with his smartphone. On the other hand, as the topic of the interview will relate around the participant’s experiences with ICTs, I plan to record the participant’s activity on his smartphone during the interview, with screen recording software (e.g. Lollipop). This will then allow me to record potential display of digital literacy practices throughout the interview (e.g. if he wants to show me how he uses particular online resources). Once the data is collected, I aim to produce a multimodal transcription of the interview, which will then be edited with ELAN or an equivalent software for data presentation. Using this approach, the video recording, the screen recording and the multimodal transcript can be combined in one edited video.
January-February 2016 Ethical Clearance (6-8 weeks) consent of participation
February 2016 Drafting of interview questions
March 2016 Technical matters, where will the interview take place?
April 2016 Data Collection
May 2016 Data Analysis
June 2016 Peer Review of data
July 2016 Drafting of formal document, which could lead to presentation, poster or publication.
This sample study will influence and inform my further research on several levels; on the one hand, the data will help me contextualize current literature and will help me find my own standpoint. Hopefully, the findings from this microstudy will make a case for further inquiry on a larger scale. Furthermore, the experiences I will make from the interaction with individuals and institutions (e.g. getting ethical clearance from the University of Leeds) will be extremely valuable for further research. On the other hand, this sample study will be an excellent opportunity to practice how to plan, to conduct and to analyze multimodal data.