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Ocnos (2015), 13: 7-22 Valero, M. J., Vázquez, B. & Cassany, D.

DOI 10.18239/ocnos_2015.13.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments

Revista de Estudios sobre lectura Open Access Full Text

Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages
students in digital environments
Desenredando la web: la lectura crítica de los aprendices de
lenguas extranjeras en entornos digitales

María José Valero, Boris Vázquez y Daniel Cassany
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Received: Abstract Resumen
This article analyzes how thirteen Spa- Analizamos la manera en que trece es-
nish students of translation into English tudiantes de traducción inglés-español leen
critically read an authentic text produced in críticamente un texto auténtico de la co-
the British community. Our three objectives munidad británica. Nuestros tres objetivos
ISSN: 1885-446 X
are: a) to explore whether the learners iden- son: a) explorar si los aprendices identifican
ISSNe: 2254-9099 tify the worldview contained in the text; b) to la visión del mundo contenida en el texto;
document and analyze the critical reading b) documentar y analizar las estrategias de
strategies and online resources they use to lectura crítica y recursos en línea que em-
Keywords understand the text; c) to describe their per- plean para comprender el texto; y c) describir
Critical Reading; digital ceptions of and attitudes towards their role as sus percepciones y actitudes acerca de su rol
practices; reading critical readers. We use qualitative methods como lectores críticos. Empleamos técnicas
comprehension; language to analyze various types of data: 1) responses cualitativas para analizar varios tipos de da-
learning; reading strategies; to a task of critical reading comprehension tos: 1) las respuestas a una tarea de compren-
translation. and translation of a news article published sión y traducción de una noticia publicada
in a British online newspaper; 2) five semis- en un periódico digital británico; 2) cinco
Palabras clave
Lectura crítica; prácticas tructured interviews focused on the reading entrevistas semiestructuradas centradas en
digitales; comprensión lectora; task, and 3) videos of the on-screen activity la tarea de lectura, y 3) vídeos de la actividad
aprendizaje de lenguas; of five informants. The findings show that de las pantallas de cinco informantes. Los re-
estrategias de lectura; most of students fail to critically unders- sultados muestran que buena parte de los es-
traducción. tand the text and that this is due mainly to tudiantes no logra comprender críticamente
the lack of awareness of the socioculturally el texto y que este hecho se debe sobre todo a
situated nature of digital texts and the ineffi- la escasa conciencia sobre el carácter situado
Contact: cient use of critical reading strategies and socioculturalmente de los textos y al uso in- online resources. eficaz de estrategias de comprensión crítica y
recursos de lectura en línea.

Valero, M. J., Vázquez, B. & Cassany, D. (2015). Untangling the web: critical reading of students of
foreign languages in digital environments. Ocnos, 13, 7-22.
doi: 10.18239/ocnos_2015.13.01

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Only Levine. courses. 2007). 2009. research and teaching practices of reading in – Analysing the students’ perceptions and FLs can be adapted to the new communica- attitudes towards their own role as critical tion demands. Likewise. Wallace. Regarding electronic format.18239/ocnos_2015. This problems and when searching. Ferenz and Reves (2000) Communication Technologies (ICTs). and they have poorer effects intended to have on the audience. & Cassany. objective is made up of three parts: ting and evaluating information (Leu. how they 2004. and how they evaluate their validity and This fact raises questions about the way reliability. 2003). Henry and Reinking. we integrate two theoretical online texts can potentially develop critical approaches that adopt coherent. 2002). consult or carry out other (Cassany. these studies were performed texts diverge from their hard copies in terms in closed virtual environments (as in the case of format. selec. To date. B. 13: 7-22 Valero.Ocnos (2015). D. J. the difficulties thereof. noting their awareness of the that studies critical reading in FLs is limited socio-cultural and ideological charge of dis- and mainly focuses on reading on paper (Koh. case of Murillo. used by students when reading a digital text municate of the linguistic community in which in a FL: describing how they identify com- the text read by them was generated (Cassany. 2007. the need to read texts critically and 2004. the – Documenting the strategies and resources rhetoric and the way of life and the way to com. Coiro. the society. These tically. language and Murillo (2009) deal with how do students students are gaining access to a wide range of behave when they read digital texts in a FL cri- digital texts in foreign languages (FLs). design or layout of dynamic spaces of Levine et al. find and select relevant data on the Thorne. finding. Vázquez. Hanna and de Nooy. of educational practices and digital texts To overcome this gap of knowledge on substantially alter the concept of reading com. reading a digital text produced by and for the ting and implementing strategies to identify community speaking that language.. of students actions when reading. activities that they would do in a true “reading These modifications affecting the nature on the web” scenario.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments Introduction comprehension and offer pedagogical sug- gestions (Chamberlin-Quinlisk. and construe their world view underlying Warschauer. not developed for learning purposes). net in a totally open virtual environment. 2003. DOI 10. critical reading in a FL. complemen- 8 . Walz.13. Conceptual framework Henry. in the contents of a website with an ideolo- This is even more necessary in the case of gical charge: analysin how they detect the students of FLs that read authentic digital texts position taken by the author and by those (i. how they recog- their language skills are poorer in their pivot nise the cultural values contained in the language compared to those when reading in text and how they identify the function and their mother tongue (MT). Thanks to the Information and 2001). which reduces the scope closure or concealment of the message’s author. Hartman. Kramsch and search. since they privacy level and quality control of information cannot do searches.e.. we propose to analyse prehension. knowledge on the culture. since social groups represented.. 2000) or semi-open (as in the linked among them. M. 2011. 2000). 2008. 2009). Herring. 2003. Reading on the Internet makes the extent and level of the critical role played playing a more active and a critical role more by a group of students of English as a FL when necessary and important when interpre. 2008. – Exploring the way students of FLs identify Castek. 2010. and also in terms of dis. the body of research readers. López-Ferrero and Martín-Peris. Coiro and Dobler. 2006) or it is limited to point that In this study. Fabos. research focuses on reading in one’s MT (Coiro. prehension problems or needs.

manipulate and comment on contents in order to put it into its cultural context and of other users and. They responsible social entities are difficult to support comprehension because students do establish. B.0 and not depend only on their linguistic knowle. Some studies information organisation or information emphasise the potential of intertextuality search strategies. 2009). multiple semiotic modes such as video. some concepts to recognise the social discourses transmit. Thorne. that is. online reading comprehension easier to interpreting. resources and materials in fluid. which can be multiple voices from different authors. Lankshear and (Eveland. tion management strategies. photography or graphic design. & Cassany. Knobel. 2013. the non conventional In view of the increase in the quantity and architecture of information on the net may diversity of the sources of information on the net seem strange and puzzling to those readers for students of FLs. puzzling when getting around the net or tices create when learning FLs generally and when deciding on what to read and the order written skills more specifically (Barton and Lee. D. 2013).) or in Genres. We are referring to the – Hypertextual organisation.). values and attitudes related to the different voices contained therein and the social use of written texts” (Cassany and recover the relations existing among them. Many digital devices enable to semiotic resources which converge in a text. thereof. perform multiple activities simultaneously. distributing and exchanging texts students of FLs since they make explicit by electronic means. texts simultaneously. etc. 2013. In addition. Castellà. These processes make nological and social conditions when producing. functions and world views of the audio. thanks to web 2. Kramsch. as a result. cultural. In most of the features of reading online in a FL are: net there is no control on the nature and – Multimodality. – Textual heterogeneity and intertextuality. on the “knowledge. in Wilber. New Literacies have explored used to linear sequences. It also analyses the prac- the thematic. they can feel 9 . texts requires using specific knowledge and 2009). reading multimodal reliability are altered (Coiro. 2008. Marton and Seo. translators. discourses.18239/ocnos_2015. butes contents. In addition. the new – Quality control of information. DOI 10. and the reader has to handle heterogeneous thematic websites in different languages. Nevertheless. figures or events 2003. all Internet users can dge of the FL to construct the text’s meaning add. orga. J. participation culture. open and interconnected environ- The research carried out under the designa- ments. such as message authorship or information ted. knowledge performed with these texts (Coiro. the role of digital text is more intertextual: it contains prior knowledge is altered. the etc.. dynamic transformations generated by nowadays’ tech- texts or new tabs. designs and registers are juxtaposed the culture of the text read (encyclopaedias. pop-ups. 2011). compensated by their knowledge on online nisations and communities.Ocnos (2015). as well as the difficulty to identify social practices. Thanks to multitasking. Vázquez. 13: 7-22 Valero. 2008. 578). 354). M. The different pieces of information tion “New Literacies” analyses the qualitative are related through links. and may also be the transformations that digital literacy prac. in the FL (dictionaries.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments tary views on literacy. 2003. On the other hand. ideological and tices of learning and the acquisition of digital intertextual relationships with other texts. The net distri- studies on New Literacies and Critical Literacy. p. Digital texts integrate the sources of information as the purposes. p. This fact enables students of FLs to use diffe- There is no consistency in the format or style rent tools to compensate their shortcomings in which information is presented on the net. interpretation strategies for each mode or – Multitasking. interests.13. But if student of FLs do of digital texts to bring students of FLs into not have a good command of these informa- contact with different world views (Lam. 2010. Cope and Kalantzis. In short. elements.

p. & Cassany.Ocnos (2015). feminist and pro which they were generated. for the deficit of knowledge along with the lin- The piece of news was about the creation guistic and cultural resources used in the texts of the Girls’ Network social aid programme for read (Cassany. 416). b) had a quite relationships of the latter with the contexts in explicit ideology (progressive. and c) required the students to use how they intent to position the reader. New Literacies converge students performed an individual comprehen- with theoretical proposals of the so-called sion and translation assignment of a piece of Critical Literacy for the affirmation of the news from The Guardian1. Five of them also provided us with snapshots 2009). We chose a piece of news from the Education For this reason. when reading online communities and neighbourhoods. It reported the existing inequality of success opportunities Methodology for gender and socioeconomic reasons in the We are using a qualitative methodology United Kingdom. as well as different competencies circumstances in which it is generated (Cassany in another foreign language. and Castellà. Gil and Cano. and professional development. find and interpret online The implementation of strategies of mana. snapshot compilation). who acted as mentors and relevant meanings in the inherently intercultu- helped the teenage women with their academic ral contexts of everyday life”.. they use strategies to search. practice by the different British governments gorisation of the meaning axes underlying in over the past years.18239/ocnos_2015. Fabos. the difficulties tations. 2010. 2010. immigration and socioeconomic status (interviews. section of The Guardian’s web site that: a) had find and evaluate information in order to a level of linguistic difficulty suitable to the understand the contents provided in a text. D. information since it contained cultural refe- gement and critical analysis of information is rences and elements that are specific from the essential when reading online in a FL to make up British community. 2008. Other issues with an ideo- (Cresswell. Thirteen In this context. These 13 Spanish students were which it offers and the mechanisms used to first year students of the degree of Translating represent it. to the Critical Analysis of Discourse (van Dijk. According teenage women coming from disadvantaged to Thorne (2008. Wallace. and Interpreting from Universitat Pompeu Critical readers are autonomous and aware of Fabra. which holds that critical comprehension from their computers while they were on their of a text implies identifying the vision of reality assignment. B. Luke.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments overwhelmed due to the great amount of tation of the discourse’s meaning noting the data that can be accessed immediately. relationships between its linguistic elements. Critical Literacy is linked to Critical they faced and the resources and strategies Pedagogy and Paulo Freire’s theories. 2004. Yin. After analysing their model of active reader who constructs but also translations. cultural and institutional level (CERF). M. 2003). Vázquez. analysis of or the differences of the social policies put into content (identification. with Spanish/Catalan as their mother the fact that the meaning of texts is inseparable tongue and a level of English higher that a B1 from the historical. 2013.13. This pro- in a FL “linguistic form and discourse compe- gramme brought these young women into tence continue to play roles. we interviewed them to find what extends and evaluates his/her own interpre- they understood from the text. as well as of online critical reading used to solve them. J. 2014). The piece of news included the data) and analysis of discourse (interpre. their functions and equality). 13: 7-22 Valero. 2010) logical burden were the connections between that combines techniques from ethnography races. its context and its social meanings). a picture of two teenage women who were 10 . resources to search. the level of English of the students. but in the service contact with other women from different of cultivating the capacity to make collectively professional fields. codification and cate. DOI 10.

lation of each informant to comment on prehension tests. the interviews had a tutorial from disrupting or hindering the pace of and training nature. its context and its ideology (the the author’s profile and other articles written by author’s point of view. which offers empirical evidence of We have 225 minutes of audio in total. in a FL. 7. Vázquez. Five students out of thirteen includes 13 translation assignments. DOI 10. Nord. about any difficulties found to understand these elements and the resources and stra- Data collection tegies used to solve them. b) to websites of the programme and other social groups represented and advantaged. We interviewed the the class. The voluntarily agreed that Camtasia program total number of words to be translated by the captured in video format what happened students was 212 and their translations had on their computer’s screen while doing the an average of 245 words. of having knowledge on the socio-cultu- lation assignment took place during a one ral context. B.Ocnos (2015). two laptops with access to the net and with – Despite translation assignments have not the original text in English and the trans- been used very often when designing com. Given that the study took activity was natural and usual to this group place within the curriculum framework of a of students. her. display attached 11 . c) questions to find the students’ attitudes and beliefs about Our data come from three different sources: their role as critical readers (importance – Assignment..). individually. assignment. J. 13: 7-22 Valero. we made a translation request questions were adapted to the interviewed to the students based on the functionalist students according to the analysis of the theories (House.) as well as be found. function of the text. as well as some links: a) to of the text. etc.13. We also believe that translating is students in groups of three (excepting a suitable activity to study critical reading student no.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments members of Girls’ Network and its creators in to find the level of global comprehension the City of London. The average duration of each – Interviews. cultural references. At the end of the piece lly indicative of its feminist and progressive of news. video capture is 40 minutes. Through this Nevertheless. importance of identifying the hour class of the subject Translation 1 EN of ideological charge. of three people is 50 minutes. therefore prevented research degree subject. within this general scheme. totalling 194 views to the informants the week after the minutes of recording time. we believe this kind of specific details. the difficulties and par- the first year. associations advocating for women’s rights. etc. The comprehension and trans. b) questions about the translation of a and c) to websites of some celebrities voluntee. comments by the readers thereof could ideology. have been tasked with translating this Interviews took place in a classroom with article for a Spanish newspaper”. & Cassany. We did semi-structured inter. Interviews were enable to explore more deeply the students’ made up of three parts derived from the behaviour when reading online in a FL: how three objectives of the study: a) questions they scroll up and down. These records assignment was done. for this reason. M.). etc.18239/ocnos_2015. who was interviewed indivi- due to the high and detailed level required dually) to promote debate with the students thereby and to the fact of generating a trans. whilst the – The students performed the assignment individual one lasted for 20 minutes. 2014): “You translations that was previously made. in the computer room where ticularities of online reading in a FL. the subject is usually taught. our corpus – Snapshots. The the comprehension level attained by the average duration of each interview in groups students. set of elements from the text (parts especia- ring in this programme. D. 2008. on the different ways to improve their levels lated version in the MT of the original text of critical comprehension. assignment.

the women’s rights”. we got 21 categories. stereotypes and references to still are… not undervalued but. com. intonation. (Bernete. this view. such as the newspaper’s editorial line. such snapshots using content analysis techniques as the relationships between job opportunities. These the picture.13. we inductively analysed the also perceived other ideological elements. In first place.. resource”. D. They “monitoring and adaptation of the search did not perceive other ideological elements terms”. 2014. “detection of comprehension difficul. at a lower pro- models or cultural patterns contained in their fessional level compared to men”. Gee 2011). DOI 10.. made audio recordings. to E12. In total. In last place.Ocnos (2015). trans. to “promote a bit the awareness that women municative style. grammar and thematic selection. They it. resources used by them. When asked about how they identified records that where in turn related to the con. tion of women in the United Kingdom and… a ces used to solve it and their attitude towards phenomenon that occurs in all countries”. how they search. In E9’s words. and through different qualitative analysis – Ethics. E12 and E13) were able cribed them partially and analysed them using to identify the world view contained in the discourse analysis techniques (Bloome et al. “knowledge on the organisation of find and select information from external information on websites” or “verification of sources. & Cassany. the resour. “selection of the appropriate linguistic related to immigration or the social recogni- 12 . the linguistic and consultation information sources”. B.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments multimodal elements. J. These are the results from specific subsec- tions that correspond to the three objectives of Analysis this research. Vázquez. Three students (E9. According interventions. In the context of this interview. ties of a cultural nature”. During this process we noted or other mates. E4. the of comprehension difficulties of a linguistic author’s profile or the contents of Girls’ Network nature”. Thirteen informants assigned their data derived from the translation Results assignment and only 5 gave their consent that their computer screens were recorded. the general feminist ideology of the text.18239/ocnos_2015. 2002) with CAQDAS social class or immigration (E9) or the jobs that Atlas-ti. just as E9.. 13: 7-22 Valero. they referred to specific passages or ceptual framework and the objectives of this elements of the text. University. The students signed a consent form of techniques allowed to triangulate the results data assignment that meets the ethical stan- obtained during our fieldwork to be provided dards applicable to research set forth by UPF with greater validity. official website. who referred to research. They did not refer to other indica- are a few examples of the categories: “detection tors. We then did the interviews. For example.. Raigada. we corrected the students’ Identification of the world view assignments according to the parameters normally used to get an overview of the level of Comprehension of the ideology. M. This process was based on data coding are more prestigious according to the text (E12 in a set of categories arising from the video and E13). the text intends organisation of information. the objective of the piece of news is these elements were relevant to understand how “raising awareness employment discrimina- they faced the reading assignment. values and critical comprehension attained and to design social groups represented in the original text the pattern of the interviews. E6 and E10) detected of the language when searching information”. “appropriate selection Four students (E1. text without any guidance from researchers 2008. E13 defined the details of the students’ discourse such as the text as “quite progressive” and “advocating for lexical. their knowledge on The data collected from different sources how is information organised on the web.

E11 stated as monolingual dictionaries. example. DOI 10. Vázquez. For example. E9. I found it … besides its infor- with. E9 argued how the piece of news serves at the bottom. able to perceive all these purposes but they noted that the piece of news had a persuasive 13 . E6 and E10) were not disadvantaged neighbourhoods. naries. stating that women are professionally mative nature. “raising aware. J. which ness”. & Cassany. for example. E9. text alignment programs ideology or to describe any potential strategies and translators. resources used Three students (E2. E7. Other indicators. for explained: “[The text] also includes an opinion. E8 and E11) were newspaper’s editorial line. British women who were in the position to be a model and support for young women from Four students (E1. E5. for example. E9 paid attention to the picture. its creators and the financial district the text. E3.13. enabled him/her to see the difference between In the course of these comments. With the guidance of researchers. Regarding the strategies purpose before researchers mentioned it. E12 and E13) perceived reflect on issues such as the function of the more clues in the text or in other multimo- original text in its initial context or how the dal elements indicating them what part of its author intends to predispose the audience. E5 and E7 were not able to identify the article’s linguistic forums. what kind of piece of news he/she was reading they were able to identify different functions of and the nature of the section it was included the text such as “informing”. etc. undervalued…”. E8 and E11) identified the feminist ideology of the article with the help Identification of comprehension problems of the comments made by the researchers or by All the students identified their problems of other students attending the interview. They literal comprehension of concepts and the use were not aware of the strategies required to multiple online resources to solve them. E12 and E13 also argued that the politics). also used consultation websites (Wikipedia in tre-left party and the coalition later dissolved English and British websites on education and both of them”. in. “criticising”. since feminism does not…”. The students recognised that they do not Four students (E6. D. B. were not mentio- not able to identify the functions of the text ned. The differences among the to detect it. only sense escaped them. E12 stated “well. E6 used the E9 stated that he/she reflected on these issues browser of the newspaper’s website to know “fleetingly”. they only mentioned the article’s title. E6 used.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments tion of certain jobs. E13 used browsers quite often to it refers to two foundations [assisting women] get information on cultural references and previously created with one of the… with a cen..Ocnos (2015). and to deduct the social charge its purpose of doing political criticism: “…when of the text. the article’s topic. E4. E4 stated “I do not think this article belongs to a conservative Critical comprehension strategies and online newspaper. E12 and the teenage women registered with the pro- E13 went further and identified the purposes of gramme. such detect the world view. several people mentioned in the text and that the article also solicits … donations for the way he/she realised that they were successful organisation”. “promoting”. bilingual dictio- “You can see it when you read the article”.18239/ocnos_2015. it was not neutral”. E3. such as the Six students (E2. initial and abbreviation dictionaries. students specially remain on the strategies used to detect those comprehension problems Identification of the text’s function and effects of a critical nature and related to the socio-cul- intended on the reader tural context. M. E10 answered: “the same topic dealt doesn’t it? I mean. 13: 7-22 Valero. E12 searched information online on text aims at rising funding. despite that E4 and E10 deducted it from without the researchers’ guidance.

They knew a wide range of linguistic such a WordReference. E3 was an excep- (Google Images and Wikipedia in English in tion. all the on the socio-cultural framework of the text students knew the language they had to use to (navigation menus. But when they example.18239/ocnos_2015. the comprehension problem but believed that or “[element desired] meaning” and “[element the effort implied when consulting certain desired] definition” to look up the meaning of online sources was pointless. when looking the expression FTSE am serious”. cultural references in the Google search bar. E8. J. translators. & Cassany. without noting that it resources (monolingual and bilingual dictiona- was a proper name (capitalised) or that it was ries. and links) or used get more relevant results and use keywords. they answered that they example. E10 and E12) also know quite a lot of linguistic resour- 14 . right? It was on ries. he/she answered: (online slang dictionaries. they broke it in different ways until they to the same problem: “I do not know. which priate meaning in that context. they adjusted the terms text. one based on the nature of each problem. language that generated irrelevant results. They sometimes identified for” (“CEO stands for”) to consult abbreviations. If they did not is inaccurate sometimes.). which is the appro- worried about literal comprehension. For example. E3 did not repeatedly note any 100 CEOs up. tionaries. If they did not know a complex lexical WordReference”. etc. acronym dictiona- “I looked for it “as it is”. E11 answered in reference unit. For specific consultation websites. when he/she read Guardian FTSE 100 is the main exchange index in the columnist and campaigner Fiona Miller. That was the case of on the Royal Spanish Academy’s website… I E13 who. Four students (E2. for but he/she erased them before completing the example. Most of the students (E1. for about their meaning.. they used “[element desired] stands did not know it. When answered used according to the kind of expression. since he/she normally used a natural most cases). E13 did searches as “senior judiciary ignored a cultural reference. and immediately retrieved the expression Three students (E3.) and chose the most suitable published. when they translated cultural guistic information. etc. They follows: “how are women working in finance used online linguistic resources efficiently (dic. E9 and E13) had more hardly consulted other kind of information. B. E5 and E8) usually for example. strategies and resources when searching lin- Sometimes. acronym dictionaries. picture. M. E2. etc. E4. searched “FTSE”. they included it in the search parameters. for example. If they a snapshot we can see how E4 entered some knew the field to which the expression refers. they left them in English. adjectives or verbs.). 13: 7-22 Valero. E4.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments Two students (E1 and E10) did not pay so Searching information much attention to the elements that offer clues When using Google search engine. “FTSE 100”. forums. For example. D. When they had doubts references that are relevant to interpret the regarding lexicon. forums. translators. when know the field or the register to which it refers. but they Three students (E6. they often used court UK” to obtain information of magistrates’ search engines and other general resources courts in the United Kingdom. in common names. DOI 10.13. E7 and E11) were only “Member of Parliament”. called”. one of his/her searches was as were content with literal comprehension. he/she UK and CEO is an office equivalent to executive searched “Guardian” in a general dictionary director. “100 difference in the kind of difficulty he/she was CEOs” and “CEO” until he/she understood that facing. asking E3 about the meaning of an expression they tried to look it up in different resources he/she translated wrongly. E9 wrote “MP stands for in politics” search. the newspaper where the piece of news was style guides.Ocnos (2015). It was obtained relevant results. Vázquez.

the students showed difficulties to find the Regarding those cultural references and resources that may get them to find it. E5. E8. when they used online dictionaries. although they normally use WordReference information they needed if it was on the same dictionary and Google translator. Likewise. Google searches. they obtained results that were increa- references that they would not understand and singly relevant after each search.18239/ocnos_2015. In general. related thereto (through a link. websites dealing with politics. not a single student great ability to monitor and adapt search terms used the links contained in websites in English. its find relevant results (both in their MT as in most common translation and other alterna- their FL). when they used automatic find the information they needed from a list. of the references. they normally clicked on the first tive translations and. such as digital news. E6. E4 and E11) were not even able to solve mation contents in English language are their comprehension difficulties related to organised. most of the students (E2. idioms or the discus- proficiency. When they found cultural this way. E2 and 15 . all the students knew how infor- The students could find keywords on a list of mation is organised in the linguistic resources results to understand the meaning or the main and used their knowledge efficiently. with more specific or general words based on even those contained in the piece of news which the results obtained in the dropdown menus. for example. E4. culties were aggravated when the expressions press or education in the UK). Vázquez. they found the gram- repeatedly and making new searches until they matically correct translation. E10 and E11) had limited search provided them with less relevant results. & Cassany. Wikipedia several cultural references they did not know. Four students Regarding their knowledge on how infor. Nevertheless. the examples. so they wasted time going back verb and a substantive). E12 and them to or to select the most efficient hypertext E13) used Google search engine and showed a reading route. (E2. if the (E3. E7 and E11) only used WordReference information they need was not on the same bilingual dictionary (English-Spanish). Whilst two students (E10 and E13) sion threads generated about a specific use of were able to find the most suitable results to language. On the other had a hyperlink. E3. These diffi- (for example. Four students site which they checked. E3. DOI 10.. results thanks to the search engine (with the basic data of each result) than on the specific Finding information search of each one of them (by clicking on the link and reading the relevant result carefully). In general.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments ces. to difficulties that cannot be solved through lin- foresee the contents each link or tab may lead guistic resources. the the other 11 students showed difficulties to students knew how to find its definition. B. found the desired information. entries or websites on specific cultural issues despite making Google searches. Despite this was a frequent the students knew how to find the different strategy. For meanings of the items quickly and find pictures example.Ocnos (2015). for example). translators to check a specific lexical unit. they would rather make new hand. when they checked terms results of the list without paying attention to classified in different morphological categories the relationship between their content and the in English (for example. shock can be both a piece of news. which was a waste of time and E7. with website which the checked but on a website some irrelevant exceptions. they were reading. the students did they searched were abbreviations. three students (E1. M. 13: 7-22 Valero. E9. E5. not all the students showed the same meanings. D. They normally used the students is that they invested more time on same keywords several times although they did browsing and scanning the list of obtained not show relevant results. J. not have any problem to find and select the in connection with the abbreviation MP. strategies when they did not obtain that infor- mation of cultural nature which they needed A recurring pattern of behaviour in all at their first attempt.13.

13. E6 and E8) only contained in the piece of news. dictionaries to build up the meaning of their Four students (E1. E2 and E7 answered that explained: “I looked it up in different websites. (FTSE 100). Other students justified their I started with acronymfinder. E10. They also noted that their interpre. E5 and E6 translated campaig- ner as “political candidate” and E6 translated Evaluating information the term as “defender” instead of “activist”. Nevertheless. but also certain contextual framework of the text. E9 possible meanings. an education rights activist reness regarding the importance of placing in the United Kingdom. Another clear example is the refe- Awareness of the socio-cultural and ideological rence to successful women who collaborate as nature of the texts mentors of the teenage women: yachtswoman Tracy Edwards. This way. E7 and E11) only usually checked several linguistic resour- checked one linguistic resource (WordReference ces when they found an expression that was in English-Spanish) to solve comprehension unknown to them. the students only levels of awareness regarding the importance checked one information source (Wikipedia in of evaluating information.18239/ocnos_2015. In this sense. Wikipedia or other infor- their own interpretations. with the programme live and London’s finan- cial district) enable to explain the social protest Four students (E4. E12 and E13) Four students (E2. D. The students showed different levels of awa- paigner Fiona Millar. E9. E3. a famous elite sailor. and WordReference so that I could make myself an idea. When asked how mation websites.Ocnos (2015). E11 selected the result “Full Time yachtswoman as “the woman sailing a yacht” Student Equivalent”. when difficulties are related to The students showed different strategies and socio-cultural elements. E1 checked linguistic sources (dictionaries explained “I suppose that the contrast between normally) when they found difficulties to the poor neighbourhood of the girls and the 16 . These students by searching pictures and information of these believed that the context does not only enable to women and made sure that their interpretations understand the cultural references contained made sense according to the socio-cultural in the original text. to understand this part texts in their original socio-cultural context of the text. regarding the they make sure that the selected the correct difficulties found to understand an abbre- meaning for an element having different viation contained in the text. They did not check the Pharmacy Professional Association” and E4 whether their interpretations were correct. and cam. and E11 selected “London Metropolitan Police”. trough intuition.. Five students (E1.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments E3 found and selected the result “member of understand a lexical unit. They hardly ever used other tools pretations they made match the context of and do not have solid strategies or procedures the piece of news by using other tools such to evaluate the reliability and plausibility of as Google Images. & Cassany. J. B. English or other websites). these students checked different and of identifying the underlying world view. in connection with the abbreviation sometimes. that knowing the context has implications tations matched the content of the piece of news beyond the geographical issue. this context. Then Cambridge choices by saying “it was on the Internet”. E3. the neighbourhoods where the girls registered E12 and E13 normally checked two websites. E12 and E13) believed job names. E5. this fact made them select wrong meanings Similarly. E3 and E5 translated FTSE 100. 13: 7-22 Valero. The also noted the inter- problems. Vázquez. I then checked Wikipedia and Google Attitudes towards the assignment to see if it was what I thought and if it matched properly…”. DOI 10. For example. Similarly. E9. When comprehension elements (such as the comparison between problems were related to cultural references. which makes no sense in without noting that Tracy Edwards is a sailor. M.

01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments financial district is an important fact… because are thinking ‘what does this word mean?’. 13: 7-22 Valero. as shown in socio-cultural context (E10: “[In Spanish] you Figure 1. if the girls had never seen… women going to work you do not understand something. according to their behaviours. so…”) and that the assignment online reading in English does not have any additional difficulty (E8: “looking up elements In last place. D. different. E11 explained: “I found the socio-cultural framework more deeply or very difficult to find the… right meaning… that of playing a role as critical readers. when you are reading [in English] you from the most critical and aware reader (on the 17 . they believed that the difficulties inherent to the assignment are The other six students (E2. E8 related to selecting the correct meaning of and E11) saw the context as the circumstances the lexical units. newspapers are left or right-wing and check something I do not know… for example… deal with news in very different ways”. of ignoring reading or information consultation course… who CEOs are and so on…”. and explained that it is important to know it to “specify where [the characters of the text] are” On their part. J. but everyone approach of a more limited reading regarding already has an ideology when it is read. In addition. On the other abrupt and the figure suggests a continuum hand. They outstanding. You think the one chosen is the saw the context as a purely geographical envi- right one. For example. E6 and E11) had an be already contained in the text. Four students (E9. M. the attitudes towards the in English or Spanish is the same… you can find difficulties inherent to the assignment were everything”). isn’t it?”. Similarly. E10 said know more Spanish websites on education to “Sure. B. E6 and E10) believed that culties when reading are frequently beyond it was important to place the text in its context literal comprehension of the text (E12: “There because it enables to understand its cultural are some cultural issues and so on that are not references. E9 and E13 believed that would have understood the text correctly.. five students (E2. If I knew. But I do not know very well where did not think that it is necessary to identify to look up A or any other grades in English if I those values to understand the text or that the am not looking it up properly”). have an influence on their interpretation by the reader. E1 stated that surrounding the piece of news. E5. E4. for example. Vázquez.13. you have in a suit in their neighbourhoods”. similarly. but then you see that there are more ronment in which the piece of news takes place options”). strategies and pretation that is better placed in the original digital critical reading in a FL. They did not the biggest problem was “selecting the correct reflect on the importance of understanding meaning”. I get”). as non native speakers. E4 explained “I did not literal comprehension… things I would never know what the City of London is. They know that their diffi- Three students (E4. The limits between groups are not see what the text means before. E5. E3. E10. E7.18239/ocnos_2015. E7 or “where does it [the facts contained in the and E8) believed that reading critically is as text] take place”. DOI 10.Ocnos (2015). easy in their mother tongue as it is in English (E5: “Yes… I am used to reading approximately Attitudes towards the difficulties inherent to the same in both languages. to look it up… and you will probably loose part of the meaning”). Discussion they are more worried about disentangling its We can divide informants into four groups linguistic code rather than attaining an inter. E3 and E7 fits the text. E12 and E13) believed that understanding a text in a FL is more difficult because. They were that are specific of British culture is a further also aware that the piece of news contains a difficulty to the assignment (E13: “Of course I set of ideological values. E6 explained: “[Ideology] is supposed to Four students (E1. & Cassany. socio-cultural aspects. E3.

13. of the text. resources only. Vázquez. unknown to them). tive of the text’s ideology. E5 and E7 Identify the world view of Identify the world view in Identify the world view in Do not identify the text’s the text. efficient but others are related to their linguistic difficulties related to their viours are rare. its function and a general. E12 and E13 E4. information. interpretation. Combine the use of online Frequent use of online Use of online linguistic Very limited range of online linguistic resources linguistic resources. Think the a physical environment in FLs are placed in depth to tant. D. underlies in the piece of news and are able to place it in the original socio-cultural context have a great command of more strategies to Figure 1. Think it is essential to Think in-depth knowledge See reading in a FL as See reading as a mechanical know the socio-cultural on the socio-cultural retrieving the literal sense process and the context as context in which texts in framework is not impor. as well as of their and the connotations of unit to interpret the text the fact it is drawn up in limitations to use online many cultural references. M. E6 and E10 E11 E3. a general and inaccurate ideology and do not know its social. Problems regarding students. E8 and Readers with difficulties: readers: E9. takes place. Classification of students according to their level of critical comprehension attained and their reading behaviours. J. digital text in a FL is more difficulty of the assignment does not have any special ment due to their lack of difficult because they do is choosing the correct difficulties regarding command of the FL and its not know the meaning meaning of each lexical comprehension nor due to culture. DOI 10. is not important. linguistic resources. inaccurate way. a FL. Be aware of the difficulties Believe that reading a Think that the main Think the assignment inherent to the assign. 13: 7-22 Valero. resources to read in a FL. information on the Internet manage information to manage information mation on the Internet.01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments left) to the literal reader with difficulties (on the This figure shows the relationships between right). Each group represents an average global the three objectives of the study. limitations and to literal linguistic limitations. & Cassany. elements to identify the possible elements indica- ideology. Those students assessment of the results stated above on the that identify and interpret the world view that reading behaviour of the students.18239/ocnos_2015. Literal readers: E2. cultural references. properly. Look up few cultural socio-cultural framework which the story of the text understand them. 18 . neither because it is resources to solve any Think they do not have a addressed to other culture comprehension problems poorer command of online or because it is a digital text that may arise. Most critical and aware Fairly critical readers: E1. B..Ocnos (2015). Great command of multiple Strategies to manage Multiple strategies to Limited range of strategies strategies to manage infor. literal comprehension. of researchers or other to do so. are irregular (some are only to solve difficulties on the Internet to solve Inefficient reading beha. references. Can identify elements to Not able to identify Not able to identify any identify the ideology. cultural and Identify and look up some way only with the help what strategies can be used ideological connotations. with other multimodal Occasional use of resources and websites Wikipedia and Google with socio-cultural Images.

the MT and FL very well. they are typically content 19 . 2006. as stated by Murillo (2009). D. It would also explain the imbalance We also noted that when it comes to deter- regarding the command of online linguistic mine what strategies of online reading are to resources by the students (dictionaries. M. Their aware of the importance of critical reading or of strategies and knowledge have been incorpo- the difficulties of this activity when it is done on rated in an intuitive.Ocnos (2015). the use of CITs and. variability a higher level of awareness of the importance is greater at this point: even those readers with of playing a critical role when reading a digital a higher level of critical comprehension have text in a FL. indepen. This interpretation is in line with Cull more aware of the need to play an active. critical (2011).01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments manage information on the Internet and have them more efficiently. & Cassany. as well as finding relevant informa- of it. selecting and vidual. and actions) to obtain information rather than Regarding the second objective. trans- be used to solve their needs for information.13. that.18239/ocnos_2015. lators. unstructured way trough the Internet and with texts in a FL either. This is reinforced by first and the third objective of the study. 2003). finding (Martí. Among the actions that and collective thinking) of reading as an indi. are more difficult are finding. we note information accuracy (De Rosa. partial comprehension results. B. research found on Wikipedia. which it is produced and received. Weiler. the author’s point of view. according to whom. J. in general terms. therefore. internal process of linguistic decoding interpreting relevant information on the list of of texts having one only fix meaning. results obtained thanks to search engines. On the other hand. This fact makes us with more difficulties to identify the ideologi. This are familiar with different genders and literacy would explain the difficulties of the students to practices: they know those texts which they identify aspects of the text such as its function worked on repeatedly in the curricula in their and its purposes. 2002). style guides) and the documentation the students seem to give priority to certain resources to solve comprehension problems criteria related to economy (regarding time related to the cultural meanings of the text. the students have different levels of command when perfor- Regarding the relationship between the ming different functions. 2008) or informally through everyday and evaluating online information and are not usage of the Internet (Hargittai. We dent of the socio-historical circumstances in believe this is related to the fact that students which they was generated (Street. “when it comes role implemented a greater number of strategies to university students.. 13: 7-22 Valero. this the fact that during the interviews the students research shows that most students of FLs are ignore or have difficulties to explain the actions not aware of the fact that all discourses have they performed to find. them. select and evaluate the an ideological nature and that their meaning digital information they need to understand an is marked by the socio-cultural framework in online text in a FL. those students of some of these strategies. Nevertheless. In our study. those students who are 2005). DOI 10. think that the students did not learn properly cal charge and the meanings culturally placed those strategies which are necessary to carry in a digital text in a FL do not have such a wide out these activities prior to formal education range of strategies when searching. due to the additional difficulties of limitations and imbalances in their command this process. This fact is in line with the traditional tion in expository texts in FLs such as those view (that characterises didactics. more than 50% of Among those strategies the students had a the students remained aloof to the signs of the better command of are anticipating language text that show a particular world view and are and searching terms that may produce relevant content with a literal. but they did not study the ideological position reflected therein and the lists of results obtained when searching infor- discourse and multimodal elements that convey mation online formally. Vázquez. especially beginning to manage online information and they used undergraduates.

). this research suggests that the are indicative of the level of comprehension differences between critical. enable to observe the action sequence followed mation search strategies” and explains some while reading (in the case of snapshots).01 Untangling the web: critical reading of foreign languages students in digital environments to make do with simplistic good enough infor. both This task involves teaching students of FLs to through comments addressed by the resear. to search. typography. Language programmes have on strategies and online resources that students to make students aware that all discourses are get through group discussions. Likewise. etc. conditions in which the students performed evaluating the quality of the information and of their literacy practices. they should include these strategies rarely developed to date. and in the contexts in which they usually read ceedings or criteria to value information such those texts. the design. But it also makes easier the adapting it to the changing. we identified many processes of mined world view. they are not able to define pro. Its design has different techni. are indicative of the potential of cooperation the voices and values contained in the text. consider aspects such as the position taken by chers and interactions with their mates. each group-class. autonomous way on the Internet when perfor- gement of the interviews) and analytical (since it ming activities outside formal teaching. efficient readers attained (in the case of translations) and that and literal readers with difficulties do not only 20 . 13: 7-22 Valero. teaching programmes in a FL phenomenon of critical comprehension from must not take for granted the fact the FL students empirical data.13. complexity of its design should be noted. On the used recent research techniques that have been contrary. the availability of computers. such as the multimo. mants containing observable elements that In last place.). etc. & Cassany. B. In the course of socio-culturally placed and represent a deter- the interviews. and the particular meaning that other semiotic resources of the digital text convey (picture. “Google”. which the author. 2006) and in the reliability analyse critical comprehension online in a FL of online sources (“Internet”. specific needs of compilation of devices produced by the infor. These behaviours such as the recurrent scanning of data. Vázquez. They trust in their common should have a more ethnographic approach and sense (De Rosa. Our research took place the plausibility of their own interpretations are in a university academic context. as its presence in multiple sources or even the explicit nature of the message’s author. which is the- functions that are discarded by more than 50% refore distant to real practice. collaborative construction of knowledge. Future research of the students. M.18239/ocnos_2015. find and evaluate information in an installing the software. Conclusion One last remark falling beyond the initial This research provides data that are relevant approach of this research but that we believe for the teaching and learning of FLs and it is worth noting and exploring in future highlights the need to reconsider and adapt research is that regarding the increase of the dominant pedagogies to the skills described in level of critical comprehension and knowledge different aspects. D. since it is derived from the difficulty to study the Additionally. screens) challenges. sound. of online information management as a specific dal analysis of video captures of the informants’ learning element and systemise its teaching. the text’s function in its context. The second constraint of our results) or the mistakes made by some students student is related to the alteration of the natural when identifying cultural references. techniques to develop the ability to understand the selection of linguistic uses included in text digital texts in a FL critically.. logistical (arran. even those on the Internet. J. Regarding the research constraints. upon triangulation with those obtained the results obtained from search engines (and from the interviews grant a greater validity the few occasions when students click on those to the research.Ocnos (2015). DOI 10. learn to identify comprehension problems and cal (for example. “the from text selected by participants themselves dictionary”).

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