Creating Identity: The Online Worlds of Two English Language Learners


  • Anne Burke Memorial University



The online activities of new English language learners can reveal rich and varied literary behaviors, which are almost invisible in the middle grade classroom. While these non-native English speakers may experience cultural and linguistic apartness and struggle to express their identities at school, many develop online identities using their literacy skills in a highly productive, engaged, and anonymous fashion. When viewed through a New Literacies (Gee, 2000; Street, 1995) and Multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000) perspective, closer analysis of the predispositions, social attitudes, and activities of these students reveals significant educational advantages that may go largely undetected by educators in the traditional classroom. This article presents a qualitative case study, involving two English language learners, who actively sought out and engaged in online spaces where they could establish identities, practice multimodal literacies, and seek out affinity groups in keeping with their personal interests and abilities. This research is of significance to educators as it demonstrates the manner in which digital technologies can provide equitable access to literate practices for English Language Learners in the classroom.




How to Cite

Burke, A. (2013). Creating Identity: The Online Worlds of Two English Language Learners. Language and Literacy, 15(3), 31–49.