Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Zhang Zheng


This netnographic research investigated features of an informal online English learning community in Shanbay, the biggest mobile English learning platform in China. Focusing on how these features shaped members’ informal English learning, I selected a theoretical framework that consisted of multiliteracies, new media literacy, participatory culture, and community of practice. Data resources included postings in the community forum, online voice-chat interviews, and dialogues among members in online group chats. Major findings related that this online English learning community reflected the three key features of a community of practice, namely, mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and shared repertoire. Also, participants perceived their participation in this community as having positive influences on their English learning.They had their questions answered by other members, learned a lot about English learning strategies and resources, became more motivated in and persistent in learning English, and improved their English proficiency levels. However, it was not evident in the data that members’ English learning in this community enabled their abilities as critical media prosumers. This research offers insights and suggestions for future designs of informal online English learning communities.