Language & Identity in CMC Interactions

Shortly after I started my doctoral studies, I developed a fondness for identity research. I think this is because switching from my M.A. institution to my Ph.D. one made identity very salient for me. At the University of Toledo (M.A./B.A.), I was a known factor. And, others’ understanding of my burgeoning professional identity carried a particular weight. However, when I started at Purdue University (Ph.D.), I was an unknown. Others’ didn’t have a sense of who I was, what I could do, what I should be trusted with, etc. It was like having to reform my professional identity almost seemingly from scratch. At that moment, I realized that identity matters, and I began to wonder if identity-related issues had any impact on second language learning or acquisition (SLA).

Project Introduction

This project seeks to examine how one Chinese as a second language (CSL) learner uses a variety of sociocognitive affordances (interlocutors, dictionaries, web-translation, etc.) to construct an identity using Chinese in computer-mediated communication (CMC) exchanges. I intend to look specifically at how this CSL speaker uses their affordances to extend their linguistic abilities beyond what they might otherwise be, and how that extension might impact the social identity performance. Also, I will look at how their interlocutors read and respond to their identity performance. To carry out this project, I’ll be using situated autoethnographic methods examine my CMC streams and identity performances. To situate the date and analysis, I’ll be relying on ethnographic interviews carried out with major CMC partners.

Fall 2017 Update

Began data analysis.

Summer 2017 Update

Theoretical framework and methodology established.

February 2017

Project on hiatus until June 2017 when data analysis will begin.

January 2017

Vacation with husband. No activities completed.

Fall 2016

  • Developed research questions.
  • Designed autoethnographic methodological framework.
  • Drafted and translated interview questions.
  • Selected CMC partners to interview.
  • Conducted ethnographic interviews with CMC partners.