Volume 21 Number 2

Investigating linguistic, literary, and social affordances of L2 collaborative reading
Joshua J. Thoms
Frederick Poole

This exploratory study analyzes learner–learner interactions within a virtual environment when collaboratively reading Spanish poetry in a Hispanic literature course at the college level via an ecological theoretical perspective (van Lier, 2004). The goals of the study are (a) to present empirical data that illustrate the theoretical construct of affordance in a virtual, collaborative reading environment, and (b) to investigate the pedagogical ramifications of using a digital annotation tool to involve learners in collaborative reading. Three distinct types of affordances emerged in the data: linguistic, literary, and social affordances. Our findings indicate that the number of literary and social affordances outnumbered the linguistic affordances that emerged in students’ threaded discussions while collaboratively reading and annotating poems. In addition, the primary challenges for learners when engaging in collaborative reading included others’ comments impeding some students’ understanding of the text, and having to make one’s comments distinct from others’ comments to avoid being socially viewed as an inactive reader or student. From a pedagogical perspective, the primary benefits of incorporating collaborative reading in a second language poetry course involve the ability to establish a more open learning community and allowing students to carry out a closer reading of literary texts.

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