L2 Journal

The L2 Journal is a fully refereed, interdisciplinary journal which aims to promote the research and the practice of language learning and teaching. It publishes articles in English on all aspects of applied linguistics broadly conceived, i.e., second language acquisition, second language pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation.

This site provides a list of all article titles and the opening lines of the abstract, together with links to the article on the L2 Journal site; for the full abstracts, articles, citation information and complete search capability, please go to the L2 eScholarship site.

Current Issue: Volume 10 Issue 2

Introduction to the Special Issue on Living Literacies

This special volume on “Living Literacies” is an addendum to an existing body of work in L2 education that has amassed over the past few decades, which makes a collective case that literacy ought to be a central pedagogical objective for language and culture curricula. This has been a particularly predominant discourse in collegiate foreign language teaching, where the calls for a paradigm shift are often directly coupled with critiques of the bifurcated curricular models that have long shaped foreign language departments (e.g., Allen & Paesani, 2010; Kern, 2000, 2003), though interest in L2 literacy over the past couple of decades has also been associated with broader discussions around …

Unraveling the Affordances of ‘Silas Marner’ in a Japanese University EFL Context

Graded readers, simplified versions of literature and other texts at graduated levels of difficulty, are widely employed in contexts of foreign language pedagogy and are widely considered to be a form of written-language input ostensibly suitable for a wide array of developmental stages. However, the efficacy of graded readers is not unchallenged, among which criticisms is that the language in a graded work of literature is, by nature, aesthetically inert and inauthentic, in comparison to the original. Still, from an L2 literacies-development perspective, could one not justifiably accept that aesthetic impoverishment and inauthenticity are reasonable, perhaps also unavoidable, compromises? Practically, what, for example, could a typical intermediate-level …

Exploring Digital Literacy Practices via L2 Social Reading

This exploratory study analyzes the digital literacy practices that resulted from learner-learner interactions within a virtual environment when collaboratively reading eighteen Spanish poems via a digital annotation tool over a four-week period in a college-level Hispanic literature course. Using an ecological theoretical perspective and centering on the affordance construct (van Lier, 2004), we investigate how linguistic characteristics of the poems affect the nature of learners’ annotations and also analyze how learners’ written comments/annotations change over time when engaging in L2 social reading. Findings suggest that when the lexical diversity of the poems increased, the number of literary affordances …

Designing Meaning and Identity in Multiliteracies Pedagogy: From Multilingual Subjects to Authentic Speakers

This essay examines textual engagement of two students during a Multiliteracies lesson on a French poem (Liberté, Paul Eluard) in terms of the multilingual subject (Kramsch, 2009) and the authentic speaker (Van Compernolle, 2016). The case studies are based on personal data: (1) the students’ autobiographies written on the first day of the course; (2) the transcript of their annotated comments about the poem; (3) their essays comparing the French poem to an English translation; and (4) their retrospective analysis about the effects of the multiliteracies lesson and course. The essay begins with a review of the Multiliteracies Framework, and the concepts of the multilingual subject and the authentic speaker. Next, the essay turns to …

Textual Borrowing and Perspective-Taking: A Genre-Based Approach to L2 Writing

This qualitative study explored the impact of reading on writing in a collegiate French culture course that emphasized genre-based writing pedagogy. In particular, the study focused on how 19 advanced collegiate learners of French used model text resources in writing a letter-manifesto and what their perceptions were of participation in genre-based writing instruction. Based on this study’s findings, the authors make an argument for how genre-based pedagogy can facilitate …

Literacy-based Curricula in University Foreign Language Instruction: Perceptions from Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Recent scholarship has underscored the need for a new paradigm in university foreign language programs and put forward literacy as a necessary curricular goal (e.g., Byrnes, Maxim, & Norris, 2010; Kern, 2000; Paesani, Allen, & Dupuy, 2016; Swaffar & Arens, 2005). In light of the high percentage of courses they teach, non-tenure-track faculty (NTTF) are instrumental to implementing new curricular paradigms. As such, knowing how they understand literacy and its role in foreign language education is essential to advancing the implementation of literacy-based pedagogies. This study reports on how non- tenure-track faculty conceptualized literacy during a 2.5 month Professional Learning Circle (PLC). Sociocultural and cognitive dimensions of literacy dominated the ways in which participants conceptualized literacy and its associated pedagogies; linguistic dimensions were backgrounded. Findings suggest that …

This paper presents a narrative account of teaching-researching-learning processes in practice, in the context of a language teacher development program at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Approaching L2 literacies as the interplay of intersubjective, sensory, and embodied experiences of language users in their situated encounters with symbolic forms at the art museum, the paper explores pedagogical pathways towards multiliteracies through encounters with …

Developing Academic Literacy and Researchers’ Identities: The Case of Multilingual Graduate Students

A growing number of bilingual and multilingual national and international students are enrolling in graduate programs in the United States, creating an urgent need to understand how these writers build knowledge of unfamiliar academic genres and become part of their disciplinary academic communities (Selony, 2014). Such students struggle with specific-to-the-discipline composition of written texts, exerting their agency in new academic tasks, and research identity issues. Following an activity theory framework, this case study investigates how three graduate students with diverse educational, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds (Spanish as L1, L2, and heritage language and English as L1, L2, and dominant language) experienced these processes and overcame obstacles by examining …

Against the Odds: Literacy Sponsorship in One Migrant Student’s Trajectory to College

Ivan (pseudonym), the son of Mexican migrant farmworkers, rarely spent more than six months in the same school and by high school was still classified as an English language learner. This article traces Ivan’s experiences as a language learner and writer, telling his story in his own words through his writing and ethnographic data collected during his junior year of high school and his first year of college. I examine how literacy sponsors (Brandt, 2001) helped or impeded his reading and writing as he worked to change his life. Through Ivan’s writing and oral reflections, I argue that rather than solely supporting their reading and writing development, literacy sponsors for immigrant second language writers support learners as a whole. Central to Ivan’s evaluation of his literacy sponsors is the role of caring relationships—or lack thereof—that endured longer than the technical literacy skills he learned from any one sponsor.

Mobile Language Learning: The Medium is ^not the Message

This paper repositions McLuhan’s (1964/1965) extension theory of technology in the context of mobile (-assisted) language learning (MALL), and explores whether and how the medium (i.e., the mobile device) impacts the message (i.e., the target language) and the means by which it is taught in MALL. A survey of recommended commercial MALL apps generated four top-ranked apps, which were reviewed, then trialed in an autoethnographic study of learning Italian to explore how language, communication, and language pedagogy were theorized, enacted, and assessed in each app. On the whole, MALL apps were found to …

Volume 10 Issue 1

Reflections on a Career in Second Language Studies: Promising Pathways for Future Research

This paper highlights a series of areas deemed worthy of attention by language researchers. In some cases the research effort would entail following up on studies initiated some years ago and in other cases the effort would involve relatively new research thrusts. The paper includes ideas about research regarding: (1) pathways to success in language learning – language learners as informed consumers, the role of motivation in the L2-FL interface, the language of thought for learning the target language, the impact of L2/FL error correction over time, the use and impact of websites accessed in support of language learning, and language attrition over time; (2) language learner strategies – the fluctuating functions of strategies, refining strategies for language learning, the language strategies of hyperpolyglots, and test-taking strategies; and (3) pushing the envelope with regard to TL pragmatics – the less researched speech acts, the effects of explicit instruction in pragmatics, the learning of pragmatics in the TL classroom from native- and non-native teachers, and the teaching of pragmatics in World Englishes.

Marginalization of Local Varieties in the L2 Classroom: The Case of U.S. Spanish

The United States is one of the world’s most populous Hispanophone countries, with over 35 million Spanish-speakers. In addition, Spanish is the most widely taught foreign language in the United States, with more students enrolled in Spanish at the higher-education level than in all other modern languages combined. How, then, is the United States’ status as a top Spanish-speaking country reflected in the treatment of sociolinguistic variation in Spanish as a Foreign Language (SFL) curricula at the university level? This case study of a large, public university in the Southwest, which is home to an SFL program among the largest in the country, explores that question using a two-tiered approach. First, an analysis is conducted to examine …

Volume 09 Issue 2

Beyond a Tolerance of Ambiguity: Symbolic Competence as Creative Uncertainty and Doubt

Tolerance of ambiguity has been referred to as “the indispensable component of symbolic competence” (Kramsch, 2006, p. 251) and the recommendation was later made for college-level language instructors interested in emphasizing symbolic competence in their classrooms to “bring up every opportunity to show complexity and ambiguity” (Kramsch, 2011, p. 364). Within foreign language (FL) education, however, there is often a tendency to encourage negotiation of meaning in intercultural communication as a means of overcoming ambiguity. Yet ambiguity is an integral attribute of poetic and academic language as well as of day-to-day interactions, and embodies the very experience of language learning. Thus, FL pedagogies that incorporate the notion of symbolic competence emphasize …

Performing Deafness: Symbolic Power as Embodied by Deaf and Hearing Preschoolers

Symbolic competence, “the ability to actively manipulate and shape one’s environment on multiple scales of time and space” (Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008, p. 667), offers researchers and educators the ability to understand how learners position themselves. This positioning involves a vying for semiotic resources as a means to question established constructs and re-signify or reframe them (Kramsch, 2011). Theorizations of symbolic competence have thus far given limited attention to the multimodal dimensions of intercultural communication in action, that is, during the process of positioning. In this study, I utilize the operating principles of symbolic competence (positioning, historicity, reframing, and transgressions) to explore the embodied uses of symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1982) in multimodal interactions between deaf and hearing preschoolers. Specifically, this project asks: …

Exploring Symbolic Competence: Constructing Meaning(s) and Stretching Cultural Imagination in an Intermediate College-Level French Class

This study, conducted in a 300-level college French class with15 students, builds on previous research on symbolic competence (Kramsch, 2009, 2011). Using a film scene and a “Semiotic Gap Activity,” we examine how students construct meaning. What do students prioritize? What do they bring from their past symbolic representations? Are they aware of their own perspectives? What do they gain from the activity? Students were divided …

Le Pouvoir du Théâtre: Foreign Languages, Higher Education, and Capturing the Notion of Symbolic Competence

The study of foreign languages has historically been a cornerstone in higher education for a variety of very good reasons, one being that it will help students develop a sensitivity to diversity. This rationale is compelling in theory, but requires a practical approach for instruction that actually guides students towards such a learning outcome. Current research (e.g., Byrnes, 2006; Kramsch, 2006; Swaffar, 2006) has argued that the traditional focus on the development of communicative competence often promotes a functional understanding of the target language and dominant cultural values, thereby obscuring …