Appraising Adult Second-Language Learners’ Subjectivity and Ability in Virtual Worlds

C. A. DeCoursey


This paper uses Appraisal analysis to explore adult second-language learners’ realisations connecting self and ability when using Second Life. In particular, possible selves theory was used to discover whether learners realised a variety of selves. Studies of avatar subjectivity have focused on appearance and bricolage as vehicles for virtual subjectivity. Motivation theory articulates relations between various selves including the here-and-now self and desired selves which may function as self-guides, if a learning task is seen as realistic. In all, 40 student blogs were analysed using computational methods. This study found support for both approaches. Six frequently-occurring positive, and three frequently-occurring negative connections between self and ability are explored through examples. Conclusions are that virtual subjectivity is more goal-oriented and less involved with appearance and game-play in older users, older users accept social limitations on self, and second-language learners’ metacritical awareness may impact their ability to understand language tasks as realistic.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail:

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