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Reviewed by:
  • Electronic Discourse and Language Learning and Language Teaching
  • Mat Schulze
L.B. Abraham, & L. Williams (Eds.). (2009). Electronic Discourse and Language Learning and Language Teaching. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Pp. 346, US$143.00 (hardbound). [End Page 765]

This book is volume 25 in the series Language Learning & Language Teaching. It contains an introduction and fourteen chapters, an e-discourse index, and notes about the individual contributors. Apart from the first part - 'New literacies' - the chapters are grouped according to the computer technology at the centre of attention: chat, pod-casts, blogs, discussion forums.

In the first chapter, Lotherington, Neville-Verardi, and Sinitskaya Ronda compare the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) for English against a mock test that was 'grounded in an alternative curriculum of digitally accessible pop culture' (p. 33). In their comparison, they show that the OSSLT does not reflect the digital literacies students have been developing and conclude that the evaluation of literacy needs to be critically rethought because current print-based and accuracy-focussed tests fail to measure other important traits of multimodal and digital literacy requirements. Williams, in chapter 2, analyzes the use of French second-person pronouns in hypertexts and points out the evident differences between printed texts and hypertexts, such as linearity and multidimensionality, respectively. Based on the pedagogical framework of the New London Group (1996), he shows how his analysis and interpretation of French hypertexts can also be applied in the classroom through situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformational practice. The last chapter of Part One is by Abraham, who investigates the use of Web-based translation tools to promote language awareness. He highlights translation successes and difficulties of three online tools for Spanish. Abraham shows that the 'learners' offline collaborative discourse provided opportunities for them to become aware of and correctly solve many of the problems in the output generated by the commonly used translation site' (p. 78) and he recommends that such post-editing tasks and student discussions can be replicated with other texts and tools, and in other languages.

In the first chapter in Part Two, on chat, Sotillo provides an excellent literature review of language-related episodes and focus on form to ground her study of four dyads in an English-language chat. She concludes that 'negotiation work in synchronous voice and text-based chats . . . provides further opportunities for learners to notice linguistic forms or unknown vocabulary' (pp. 104-105). Similar to Williams in chapter 2, van Compernolle and Pierozak analyze the use of second-person pronouns in French texts. In their analysis, they distinguish between moderated and unmoderated chat and also look at the frequencies of different first-person pronouns and orthographic variation. Chatters display different preferences for the pronoun alternatives in [End Page 766] different genres. The authors suggest that students' participation in chats and analysis of chat texts can be done in the language classroom by relying on the pedagogic sequence by the New London Group (1996), which we already saw in Williams' chapter. Using the example of learners of Spanish, Lee argues in chapter 6 that chat can be a useful language learning medium outside the classroom if it is situated in a task-based learning design. A chat between native speakers and learners, although the native speakers are not always able or willing to provide adequate help (p. 144), 'affords learners a variety of authentic language discourse that would not be available during learner-to-learner exchange' (p. 146).

The next chapter, by McBride, is the first in the part on podcasts, and it focuses on listening comprehension. After a very basic introduction to podcasting and a brief overview of listening comprehension, she provides potential lesson plans and a number of practical tips for the use of podcasts in language teaching. Podcasts are again introduced in very broad terms in chapter 8. Pettes Guikema translates and describes four transcribed excerpts of French-language podcasts and argues that French podcasts are widely available and easily integrated in listening activities. Since they are often accompanied by transcripts, a transcript analysis can complement the listening activity.

Part Four, on blogs, starts with a chapter on interactional and discursive features of English...


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