One interesting finding from SALSA was the tension for participants between language learning, and ‘fitting in’. We imagined that the SALSA system would help students learn more effectively, and stay motivated between classroom learning sessions, by having prompts to keep learning while they were out and about in the town carrying out their daily activities.
However an unexpected finding was how much of a challenge learning can be while you’re also trying to socially and culturally fit in – you don’t want to behave inappropriately, or be rude to your friends by listening to audio in a public place of not paying attention to a conversation to check your phone and read a language activity in the middle of a social activity.
A number of our participants indicated that one of the goals of learning a language when you move to a new country is linguistic fluency, but also to ‘fit in’, to behave in a socially and culturally appropriate manner. So learning when you’re out and about may be powerful, but may also create tensions. You can read our journal article here.
Gaved, M. and Peasgood, A. (2017). Fitting in Versus Learning: A Challenge for Migrants Learning Languages Using Smartphones. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2017(1), article no. 1.
Colleagues at the Open University have opened our eyes to studies in citizenship, and the idea of “performative citizenship” – not becoming a citizen of a country through birthright, or passing tests, but by ‘performing’ as a local person would. We recognise this does of course open up discussion about the extent to which migrants should conform to existing local identities, but it is definitely an area we would like to explore further.