Informal learning of Spanish in a Chinese music fan community



Palabras clave:

Fan practices, Virtual ethnography, Lyrics translation, Songs, Informal language learning, Critical literacy, Chinese, Spanish, Colloquial expressions, Cooperation


In the context of digitalization and participatory culture, pop culture has sparked numerous online linguistic practices exhibiting the potential for informal language learning. This study centers around an online community consisting of Chinese fans of Spanish-language pop music. Adopting the virtual ethnography approach and using mixed methods including interviews and web-crawling of fan production, we collected data from one particular member who devotes his free time to translating Spanish-language song lyrics into Chinese, and we analyze how informal language learning takes place in this context. Our results indicate that 1) the flexibility of roles and collaborations within the community contribute to the co-construction of knowledge; 2) fan practices are fueled by the technology-facilitated fulfillment of emotional needs and the formation of a shared identity; and 3) systematic strategies appear when amateur online translators go about trying to translate colloquial expressions in a foreign language. Among these strategies are the triangulation of meanings across lyrics, the use of multiple online tools, a reliance on feedback from fellow community members, and a critical approach to sources with an eye to ensuring their reliability. These findings showing highly specialized information retrieval and critical literacy skills in fan practices could serve as inspiration for integrating lyrics translations into formal language education to enhance the acquisition of non-standardized vocabulary and the cultivation of critical thinking.


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Biografía del autor/a

Yuan-Cloris Li, Universitat Pompeu Fabra





Daniel Cassany, Universitat Pompeu Fabra





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Cómo citar

Li, Y.-C., & Cassany, D. (2023). Informal learning of Spanish in a Chinese music fan community. Profesional De La información Information Professional, 32(6).



Artí­culos de investigación / Research articles