L2 literacy and the design of the self: A case study of a teenager writing on the internet

Wan Shun Eva Lam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

412 Scopus citations


This article presents a case study that uses ethnographic and discourse analytic methods to examine how electronic textual experiences in ESL figure in the identity formation and literacy development of the learner. First, the article reviews some recent work in literacy studies, L2 learning, and computer-mediated communication to provide a conceptual basis for studying discursive practices and identity formation in L2 learning. The results of a case study of a Chinese immigrant teenager's written correspondence with a transnational group of peers on the Internet then show how this correspondence relates to his developing identity in the use of English. This study develops the notion of textual identity for understanding how texts are composed and used to represent and reposition identity in the networked computer media. It also raises critical questions on literacy and cultural belonging in the present age of globalization and transborder relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-482
Number of pages26
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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