Volume 20 Number 3

Positioning Identity in Computer-mediated Discourse among ESOL Learners
Carlton J. Fong, The University of Texas at Austin
Shengjie Lin, The University of Texas at Austin
Randi A. Engle, The University of California, Berkeley

The present study explores a linguistic mechanism in which the identity of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) learners can be influenced online. Analyzing the discourse of ESOL chat room participants and how they uptake positioning statements through online conversations, we present two vignettes that illustrate the kind of discourse in which participants position one another as language learners. We apply a discourse analysis framework of joint projects and positioning to an online context for ESOL learners to understand the processes by which identity is formed via online discourse. In both vignettes of online discourse, we examine the linguistic processes through which ESOL learners’ language identity was positioned and formed. This article supports the importance of examining identity positioning and language learning in the online setting. We discuss implications for how online chat sessions may foster positive identity development.

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