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Françoise Demaizière et Katerina Zourou
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  • 1 This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi (...)

1This special issue, produced with the support of the European Commission within the framework of the project "Language Learning and Social Media – 6 Key Dialogues"1, provides an opportunity to open up our journal to articles in English. From the outset, we apologise to our English-speaking authors and readers for the French terms included in the presentation of texts and in this edition generally. We are essentially a French language journal, and our layout is designed accordingly… We are delighted to be publishing works by authors from a variety of backgrounds. Quebec, the French Overseas Territories, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are all represented. Our editorial team has expanded specifically for this issue. We would therefore like to thank Susan Pasco for her assistance in proofreading and Philippe Blanca for his support at the final editing stage.

2Are social media (r)evolutionary in language learning? Selected papers in this special issue attempt to bring some preliminary answers – despite the fact that everybody knows that both integration of "new" technologies in education and the development of technological artifacts have nothing to do with parthenogenesis. On the contrary, the aim of this special issue, through the selection of papers, is to help in showing which elements of the socio-technical landscape of social media in language education bring something new (and how this novelty can be defined) and which of them represent an evolution (and in which direction).

3The special issue builds on and expands knowledge that has been developed in useful reviews of social media in the area of CALL (Guth & Helm, 2010; Lomicka & Lord, 2009; Thomas, 2009) and its multiple opportunities for networking through devices other than personal computers (Shield & Kukulska-Hulme, 2008). It also links to research efforts in the form of collective books that are being prepared within approximately the same timeframe, in similar fields: that of new and emerging technologies (Thomas, Reinders & Warschauer, 2012), social networking (Dervin, Lamy & Zourou, 2012) and virtual games (Thorne, Piet & Cornillie, 2012).

4With regard to this special issue, we believe that the key to an understanding of the advantages and pitfalls of social media in language education is evidence-based research, aiming to disambiguate this complex landscape by critically assessing whether, and under what conditions, types of social media can be meaningful in a given learning context. An approach focusing on social media as a whole and implications for learning is useful to depict the "big picture", but is not fully instrumental in terms of grasping the added value of tools according to a context-specific approach. Therefore, the objective of this special issue is to highlight the need to approach web 2.0 supported language education not as a "generalized" concept, but by looking more closely at context-specific, tool-related studies that emphasize the learning paradigms that underlie the use of the tool at hand.

5It was our choice not to pre-define the types of social media that would be addressed by the special issue but to leave authors the freedom to identify the artifact(s) that, put into context, would form a meaningful learning context in which the role of social media in language learning would emerge.

6As an introduction, we propose a paper by Katerina Zourou, "On the attractiveness of social media for language learning: a look at the state of the art". This paper sets the stage for the articles selected for the special issue. It gives definitions of some mainstream terms. It then critically discusses three key features of web 2.0 technologies (user participation, openness and network effects). Research insights are discussed in the last section.

7Two articles in French follow this introduction. In "Les usages linguistiques des adolescents québécois sur les médias sociaux" ("Language use of Québec adolescents on the social web"), Monique Lebrun and Nathalie Lacelle compare the linguistic practices, in daily activities and on the social web, reported by adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 years old attending French schools. The results show a very diverse use of French in daily life depending on the ethnic origin and a predominance of English on the World Wide Web among Quebec adolescents.

8In "Approche interactionnelle et didactique invisible – Deux concepts pour la conception et la mise en œuvre de tâches sur le web social" ("The interaction-based approach and invisible didactics – Two concepts for the design and practice of tasks on the social web"), Christian Ollivier relies on his concept of invisible didactics, for the teaching of French. His projects aim at creating virtual interaction spaces that resemble other social media on which learners can act as real "social agents". The comparison between the language behaviour of learners and of French native speakers who complete a similar task on the social web, makes it possible to show the similarities and differences in the behaviour of both groups so that not only the limits but the advantages of invisible didactics can be distinguished.

9We then have three texts in English. Geraldine Blattner and Lara Lomicka examine the use of Facebook as a social networking tool in an intermediate French class in "Facebook-ing and the Social Generation: A New Era of Language Learning". An analysis of survey data suggests that students respond in a positive manner toward the use of Facebook in education and highlights some differences in the way Facebook is used in both personal and academic settings.

10"Language Learners' 'Willingness to Communicate' through" is a case study by Elwyn LLoyd, based on an investigation into the use that a group of language learners made of The principal objective was to examine the type and frequency of online interactions that the participants engaged in with other speakers of their target languages.

11The last text is "Online gaming as sociable media", by Steven L. Thorne and Ingrid Fischer who examine the widely played massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, with a view toward better understanding its usefulness as a setting for language use and learning. This game environment is explored using three forms of evidence. The authors elaborate on the necessity of an "open source epistemology" and a critical language awareness approach to developing and acknowledging a diversity of communicative practices, all of which are aimed at expanding the goals, and outcomes, of instructed L2 education.

12Happy reading!

13Our thanks go to the following people who took part in expert assessment and reviewing of articles.

  • Nina Bonderup Dohn, Institute of Business Communication and Information Science, DK

  • Thierry Chanier, université Blaise Pascal Clermont 2, FR

  • Maud Ciekanski, université Vincennes Saint-Denis Paris 8, FR

  • Françoise Demaizière, université Paris Diderot Paris 7, FR

  • Fred Dervin, université de Turku, FI

  • Anne-Laure Foucher, université Blaise Pascal Clermont 2, FR

  • Jeannine Gerbault, université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3, FR

  • Nicolas Guichon, université Lyon 2, FR

  • Sarah Guth, University of Padova, IT

  • Francesca Helm, University of Padova, IT

  • Agnes Kukulska Hulme, Open University, GB

  • Marie-Noëlle Lamy, Open University, GB

  • François Mangenot, université Stendhal Grenoble 3, FR

  • Christian Ollivier, université de La Réunion, FR

  • Meei-Ling Liaw, National Taichung University, TW

  • Charles Max, université du Luxembourg, LU

  • Mark Peterson, Kyoto University, JP

  • Glenn Stockwell, Waseda University, JP

  • Steven Thorne, University of Groningen, NL et Portland State University, US

  • Katerina Zourou, université du Luxembourg, LU

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Les liens externes étaient valides à la date de publication.

Dervin, F., Lamy, M.-N. & Zourou, K. (dir.) (2012, forthcoming). Social networking in language education. London: Palgrave.

Guth, S. & Helm, F. (dir.) (2010). Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, Literacies and Intercultural Learning in the 21st Century. Bern: Peter Lang.

Lomicka, L. & Lord, G. (dir.) (2009). The Next Generation: Social Networking and Online Collaboration in Foreign Language Learning. San Marcos, TX: CALICO publications.

Shield, L. & Kukulska-Hulme, A. (dir.) (2008). Mobile Assisted Language Learning. Special issue of ReCALL, vol. 20, 3.

Thomas, M. (dir.) (2009). Handbook of Research on Web 2.0 and Second Language Learning. IGI Global.

Thomas, M., Reinders, H. & Warschauer, M. (dir.) (2012, forthcoming). Contemporary Computer-Assisted Language Learning. New York: Continuum.

Thorne, S. L., Piet, D. & Cornillie, F. (dir.) (2012, in press). Digital Games for Language Learning: Challenges and Opportunities. ReCALL Journal.

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1 This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Pour citer cet article


Françoise Demaizière et Katerina Zourou, « Editorial », Alsic [En ligne], Vol. 15, n°1 | 2012, mis en ligne le 30 mars 2012, Consulté le 26 avril 2017. URL :

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