One of the most remarkable features of the current development of the Internet is the rapid globalization of the opportunities for communication that are available to young people around the world. Social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) and image/video sharing services (such as Flickr and YouTube), which did not exist ten years ago, are now taken-for-granted aspects of the everyday worlds of many young people. Discussing examples of interlingual and intercultural interaction in comments on YouTube videos, this paper argues that the globalization of the Internet is not simply a matter of the proliferation of services and servers around the world. In the case of YouTube, it also involves the emergence of new video genres that problematize linguistic and cultural difference and the discussions that take place around them. Based on a study of YouTube comments on videos with Chinese-English translingual and transcultural content, this paper discusses evidence that these videos are used as resources for young people to expand networks of informal communication across cultural and linguistic borders. Viewed from a situated learning perspective, this communication also implies informal language and culture learning and the construction of interlingual and intercultural identities. As new spaces for young people to talk and learn about each others’ languages and cultures, these new video genres also serve as sites on which they can develop identities as interlingual and intercultural ‘speakers’, as people who are able to move comfortably within the multilingual and multicultural environments of new online worlds.
|Published - Jun 2013