Young people’s everyday literacy practices in English

Anne Pitkänen-Huhta

The focus of this project is on young people’s everyday literacy practices of English in Finland. English plays an important role in the lives of the young people in Finland, both in education and in their everyday lives. English is the most popular foreign language at school and therefore, officially, learning English literacy – and the acquisition of educational practices – overtly takes place in formal classroom situations. Learning in classrooms is predominantly textually mediated through textbooks and other learning materials. However, young people also encounter – and acquire – English literacy in various informal contexts in Finland. Their lives are currently saturated with English texts in the form of various kinds of institutional, media and personal texts.

In examining the everyday literacy practices of English, this study addresses questions such as the following:

  • What English texts do the young people use and produce?
  • How and in what situations?
  • What are the functions of these practices?
  • What do the practices mean to the participants?
  • How do these practices relate to their literacy practices in Finnish?
  • How do they relate to literacy practices in formal school contexts?
  • How do the everyday practices contribute to their learning of English?

In order to get a thorough picture of the ways of consuming and producing English texts and the ways of understanding and making sense of English literacy in the Finnish context, the study makes use of ethnographic methods (e.g. interviews, observations, photographs and oral diaries) and complements these with discourse analytic methods (detailed analyses of specific instances where texts are used).