Language Learning Entering the Digital Wilds

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Lancaster Literacy Research Centre are delighted to welcome Boris Vazquez-Calvo to discuss Language Learning Entering the Digital Wilds.

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This Lancaster Literacy Research Centre event will be a talk from Boris Vazquez-Calvo, titled Language Learning Entering the Digital Wilds: Catalan Gamers as Guerrilla Fan Translators.


The aim of this talk is to present recent findings on how young gamers from Catalonia get involved in linguistic activism defending the Catalan language, organize interest-driven community groups and merge together their linguistic activism with productive linguistic practices made by gamers for gamers (Vazquez-Calvo, 2020). Specifically, this group of young gamers conducted fan translation of games — they decided to translate into Catalan video games that are not normally commercialized in Catalan. I approached the study gamers’ fan translation from a sociocultural angle, drawing on NLS and new literacies (Barton & Lee, 2012; Gee, 2015), participatory culture (Jenkins, Mizujko & boyd, 2015) and affinity spaces online (Gee, 2005). I also reviewed prior studies that identified (1) regained momentum of translation and other mediation activities in language learning, and (2) how online contexts of social interaction present favorable conditions for amateur translation and interlinguistic mediation, including translation made by fans. With that background, I proposed three research questions to understand (1) how the group decided to translate video games, (2) what type of games they translated and how the translating process occurred, and (3) whether there was evidence of language learning. To answer those questions, I conducted online observation (online interviewing with Link, the coordinator of the group, annotated online fieldnotes with screenshots taken by the researcher or provided by Link) and collected the group’s Telegram conversation from April to October 2018. I performed two analysis: (1) content analysis of the more descriptive data to understand the dynamics of the group, and (2) an informational act analysis of specific strings in the Telegram conversation in relation to the routine translation entry test they set in place for applicants and potential new members. The findings point to a complex yet dynamic system of roles and functions, a very aware perception of the group’s social image as representatives of the Catalan language and culture in relation to the type of games they chose to translate, and three ways in which the Catalan fan translators-gamers learned language: (1) while translating, (2) through sharing and solving language doubts in the group, and (3) through commenting applicants’ translation tests. With a revision of paradigmatic instances of every subsection in the findings, we will be able to understand that fan translation truly is a premium literacy practice (Knobel & Lankshear, 2014) and how much potential translation offers a pedagogic tool for formal language learning, especially in advanced levels. Event schedule:

12:00pm - Welcomes & introductions (please enter the meeting with your 'real' name as your display name, and your camera switched on, to allow us to all put faces to each others' names)

12:05 - Presentation from Speaker Name(s) (please turn your camera off and mute your microphone during the presentation)

12:40 - Discussion (please use the raise hand feature on Teams to indicate you would like to have a turn speaking and once asked to speak by an event facilitator, please un-mute your microphone and turn your camera on)

Presenter bio:

Boris Vazquez-Calvo is an Assistant Professor in Language Education at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. His primary research interests lie at the intersection of language learning, fan practices, and digital culture. He studies how young people as fans develop, use, and learn literacies, languages, and identities in multiple ways, particularly in online contexts of social interaction. He is also interested in CALL, digital games and their applicability to language education, and emerging discourse modalities online. His current research explores language learning with TikTok videos and other video-intensive discourse practices. His research is accessible via ResearchGate ( and (

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