Catalan Teenagers’ Identity, Literacy and Language Practices on YouTube

  • Boris Vazquez-CalvoEmail author
  • Nikolaj Elf
  • Adriana Gewerc
Part of the New Language Learning and Teaching Environments book series (NLLTE)


From the perspective of New Literacy Studies, this chapter seeks to explore and understand how Catalan teenagers build and perform identity online as well as which literacy and language practices they conduct that shape, and leave visible traces of, identity. Using digital ethnography (interviews, screenshots, analysis of videos), we collected data from three teenage gamers from Catalonia who, driven by their shared interest in gaming, upload videos on YouTube. Results show varying degrees of engagement and specialization, which allow us to offer tentative definitions of the roles and functions of these teenagers on YouTube. Results also indicate participants’ norms and behaviors in choosing usernames, profile pictures and background pictures, showing varying degrees of sophistication in linguistic and multimodal practices and awareness in Catalan, Spanish and English.



This research was supported in part by a postdoctoral grant from the autonomous government of Galicia (Xunta de Galicia, Spain) awarded to Boris Vazquez-Calvo (ED481B 2017/007). This research was also supported by the research project ForVid (Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities—National Research Agency, Spain: Video as a language learning format in and outside schools, RTI2018-100790-B-I00). There is also collaboration with the research project CDEPI (FEDER/Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities—National Research Agency, Spain: Competencia digital y e-inclusión del alumnado de educación primaria de Galicia: el papel de la escuela, la familia y el entorno próximo, EDU2015-67975-C3-1-P).


  1. Barton, D. (2007). Literacy. An introduction to the ecology of written language (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Barton, D., & Lee, C. (2013). Language online: Investigating digital texts and practices. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barton, D., & Papen, U. (2010). The anthropology of writing: Understanding textually mediated worlds. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  4. Baxter, J. (2016). Positioning language and identity: Poststructuralist perspectives. In S. Preece (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and identity (pp. 34–49). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Blommaert, J., & Rampton, B. (2011). Language and superdiversity. Diversities, 13(2), 1–21.Google Scholar
  6. Buckingham, D. (2011). The material child. Growing up in the consumer culture. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  7. Council of Europe. (2001). The common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment.
  8. Fisher, L., Evans, M., Forbes, K., Gayton, A., & Liu, Y. (2018). Participative multilingual identity construction in the languages classroom: A multi-theoretical conceptualisation. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1–19.
  9. Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 219–245. Scholar
  10. Gee, J. P. (2000). Identity as an analytic lens for research in education. Review of Research in Education, 25(1), 99–125. Scholar
  11. Gee, J. P. (2005). Semiotic social spaces and affinity spaces: From the age of mythology to today’s schools. In D. Barton & K. Tusting (Eds.), Beyond communities of practice (pp. 214–232). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Godwin-Jones, R. (2015). Emerging technologies contributing, creating, curating: Digital literacies for language learners. Language learning & Technology, 19(193), 8–20. Retrieved from
  13. Godwin-Jones, R. (2018). Chasing the butterfly effect: Informal language learning online as a complex system. Language learning & Technology, 22(2), 8–27.Google Scholar
  14. Hine, C. (2015). Ethnography for the internet. Embedded, embodied and everyday (Vol. 1). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  15. Ito, M., Bittanti, M., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., Horst, H. A., & Tripp, L. (2010). Hanging out, messing around and geeking out. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ivanič, R. (2006). Language, learning and identification. In R. Kiely, G. Clibbon, P. Rea-Dickens, & H. Woodfield (Eds.), Language, culture and identity in applied linguistics (pp. 7–29). London: Equinox.Google Scholar
  17. Jenkins, H. (1992). Textual poachers: Television fans and participatory culture. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Jenkins, H., Mizujko, I., & Boyd, D. (2015). Participatory culture in a networked era: A conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics. Cambridge: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  19. Kohlbacher, F. (2006). The use of qualitative content analysis in case study research. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(1).Google Scholar
  20. Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kurek, M., & Hauck, M. (2014). Closing the digital divide: A framework for multiliteracy training. In J. Guikema & L. Williams (Eds.), Digital literacies in foreign and second language education (pp. 119–140). San Marcos, TX: CALICO.Google Scholar
  22. Lamerichs, N. (2018). Productive fandom. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  24. Liu, L., Preot, D., & Ungar, L. (2016). Analyzing personality through social media profile picture choice. Proceedings of the Tenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (pp. 211–220).Google Scholar
  25. Markham, A., & Buchanan, E. (2012). Ethical decision-making and internet research: Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working Committee (Version 2.0). Association of Internet Researchers.Google Scholar
  26. Sauro, S. (2017). Online fan practices and CALL. CALICO Journal, 34(2), 131–146. Scholar
  27. Thorne, S. L., & Black, R. W. (2011). Identity and interaction in Internet-mediated contexts. In C. Higgins (Ed.), Identity formation in globalized contexts: Language learning in the new millennium (pp. 257–278). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  28. Ting, Y. L. (2010). Using mainstream game to teach technology through an interest framework. Educational Technology and Society, 13(2), 141–152.Google Scholar
  29. Vazquez-Calvo, B., Zhang, L. T., Pascual, M., & Cassany, D. (2019). Fan translation of games, anime and fanfiction. Language Learning & Technology, 23(1), 49–71. Scholar
  30. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boris Vazquez-Calvo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nikolaj Elf
    • 2
  • Adriana Gewerc
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade de Santiago de CompostelaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.University of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

Personalised recommendations