Exploring language awareness through students' engagement in language play

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-54
Journal / PublicationLanguage Awareness
Issue number1-2
Online published18 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


The present study explores Korean students' demonstration of language awareness through their engagement in language play. Grounded in the understanding of the relationship between language play and an ‘engagement with language’ (EWL) perspective, this ethnographic and discourse analytic study investigates how Korean students aged 11–15 engage in ludic language play in English immersion camps in South Korea and discusses how these episodes offer learners an opportunity to display their language awareness, particularly their EWL. The findings highlight the nature of students' play with language as closely connected to their language awareness, functioning as a metacognitive tool in language learning, and their conscious attention to the broader context, in which language use is negotiated, maintained, and reinforced. Overall, episodes of language play served as a potentially prime site for demonstration of language awareness in terms of forms, functions, and effects, as well as for the creation and negotiation of more meaningful interaction filled with collaborative and voluntary engagement. The study suggests that further investigation of the learners' engagement in language play could yield deeper insights into how learners display their knowledge and awareness of languages, explore the relationships among languages, and further identify themselves as competent users of multiple languages.

Research Area(s)

  • adolescent EFL learners, engagement with language, English immersion camp programmes, language awareness, ludic language play