Language Choice among Peers in Project-Based Learning: A Hong Kong Case Study of English Language Learners' Plurilingual Practices in Out-of-Class Computer-Mediated Communication

Christoph A. Hafner, Chor Shing David Li, Lindsay Miller

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Recently there has been considerable interest in the role of first language use in second/foreign language learning, especially where students share a common first language. However, most research has focused on inclass interaction between teachers and learners. Much less attention has been given to students' out-of-class practices, for example, in collaborative projectbased learning. To fill this gap, the article tracks the out-of-class activities of 16 students (four project groups) involved in project work on a course in English for science students at an English-medium university in Hong Kong. An analy-sis of students' computer-mediated interactions (Facebook, WhatsApp and email) shows that these interactions are plurilingual, with students drawing on English, Chinese and mixed code to different extents as they go about their project work. Different languages are used strategically: whereas L2 is used more in the construction of the final project product, L1 is used more to pro-mote group cohesion. The findings suggest that, in plurilingual contexts like Hong Kong, it is necessary to develop an English language pedagogy that ac-knowledges the need for the constructive but judicious use of translanguaging and plurilingual practices as students are engaged in L2-focused (e.g. EAP) project-based group work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-470
Number of pages30
JournalCanadian Modern Language Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Language choice
  • Plurilingualism
  • Project-based learning
  • Translanguaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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