Agency in the Spanish language classroom : Student and teacher choices, actions and reports when students search for information online as part of a theme

Abstract: Students’ and teachers’ own choices and actions – their agency – are an integral part of language education, yet we know little about agency in specific classroom contexts. One such context is when students search for information online as part of their foreign language education. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore the agency enacted through the choices and actions of six upper secondary Spanish students and their teacher. Their choices and actions take place while they are working with a task that asks the students to read authentic web sites with text originally written in Spanish for a native Spanish speaking audience.Using a sociocultural perspective on the process of language learning in this task, the research question is:Through what choices, actions and reports do the students and the teacher exercise and express their agency?The study was carried out in two student groups in their second year at upper secondary school. Primary data were collected during the first lesson of a theme and consist of multiple sources, including computer screen recordings, sound and video uptake along with prompted interviews performed with both students and teacher. The main findings suggest that student and teacher choices and actions did not cohere, due to different objects of their respective activity system. The data shows that when students search for information online as a part of their language studies, they:Act as producers at the same time as consumersMultitaskTranslanguageFocus on end product more than the learning processDivide their work between them rather than work collaborativelyFinding “third spaces” – where students’ home practices are not easily applied to student or teacher objects of the activity systems, leads to a discussion concerning language view and language learning through the use of the Internet.