University of Oulu

A nexus analysis of reading the news in a second language : exploring media and cultural literacies among Finnish learners of English

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Author: Ward, Joshua1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Humanities, English Philology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : J. Ward, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-06-04
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Keisanen, Tiina
Reviewer: Kuure, Leena
Keisanen, Tiina
The prevalence of the Internet and social media in modern society have accelerated the speed and manner with which information is engaged and handled, making media literacy an important academic research area and educational goal. This master’s thesis project applied nexus analysis methodology to study perceptions and habits of Finnish students engaged in the social practice of reading online news in English. The general aim of this qualitative study was to explore the social practice of critically assessing journalistic texts in a second language, considering practices and beliefs relevant to the language learning goal of developing media literacy. The research data set includes three online news stories and interviews with six Finnish university students studying English. The selected news stories were published by three major US news agencies and shared on the popular social media platform Facebook. The analysis considers metacognitive and social aspects of reading articles and watching videos, rhetorical and discourse features related to the expression of ideologies and bias in the news stories, influences of cultural background and personal history on individual interpretation of texts, and students’ personal reflections on English usage and language learning experiences in and out of school. The student participants were able to interpret the news reports fluently and confidently and were able to recognize undertones of bias and ideology in the texts and identify discourse practices that revealed those ideologies. However, several of the students did have some difficulty noting certain cultural undertones in the texts associated with ethnic tensions between minority indigenous tribal culture and the majority American culture that were unfamiliar to the students given their Finnish cultural backgrounds. The interviews revealed a variety of attitudes and practices regarding media usage, preferred social media platforms, and objectivity in news reporting, highlighting the social diversity of the students’ social practices and the importance of this diversity on the development of their media literacy practices.
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Copyright information: © Joshua Ward, 2018. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.