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Volume 2 Number 4, Winter 2005, Pages 1-140   

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English Literacy Learning as a Socially Situated Practice

    Su-Jen Lai

This paper explores some aspects of the relations between English literacy learning and the social situations in which it occurs. My aim is to illustrate the theoretical concepts of the New Literacy Studies (NLS) and Vygotskian approaches to language, and apply them to the field of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). The focus is on one EFL undergraduate student who studied English in the School of Continuing Education at a university in Taiwan. In terms of methodology, I use interview transcripts, questionnaires, and field notes on observing student learning as the database. In consequence, the results reveal that for this student, learning as well as teaching is inevitably situated in the institutional contexts in Taiwan. The results also reveal that learning contexts and social networks appear to have a strong influence on the student's EFL literacy learning. This in turn illuminates the importance of juxtaposing the theoretical concepts of the NLS and Vygotskian approaches to language and considering English literacy learning as a socially situated practice. Furthermore, the results suggest the importance of using multiple methods and the link between research and pedagogy. Finally, based upon the research findings, this paper makes some recommendations for EFL literacy pedagogy.