Digital Literacies for English Language Learners

  • Christoph A. HafnerEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Advances in digital communication technologies have led to important changes in the way that people read, write, and communicate. New forms of representation in the digital context are increasingly hypertextual, multimodal, interactive, and plurilingual. As a result of such developments, many scholars in language and literacy education have called for practitioners to rethink the curriculum and take such digital literacies into account. This chapter takes up this call and describes a digital literacies approach to English language teaching (ELT), which attempts to address: (1) new needs of English language learners (ELLs) in the digital age; (2) new learning contexts, in the form of globalized online affinity spaces, where ELLs can interact with other English speakers. The chapter describes a theoretical model for digital literacies, which sees the affordances of digital tools as enabling new ways of doing, meaning, relating, thinking, and being. It then examines the kinds of informal learning opportunities available to ELLs in globalized online affinity spaces. Finally, the chapter describes approaches to incorporating digital literacies in the formal ELT curriculum, including: (1) structured participation in online affinity spaces, (2) embedding digital literacies in the language curriculum, (3) digital multimodal composing projects, and (4) telecollaboration or virtual exchange projects.


Digital literacies Language learning and technology Autonomous language learning Multimodality Plurilingualism Curriculum design Course design 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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