Literacy and Identity When Approximating African American Language on Social Network Sites

Publication Title

Journal of Literacy and Technology

Publication Date


Document Type



African American language, literacy, identity, social network sites, focus groups


English Language and Literature


This study includes responses from two sets of focus group participants, comprised of African American Language (AAL) interlocutors who communicate using digital AAL in online spaces. Participants shared their thoughts about language, identity, and research regarding AAL. Focus groups were recorded and transcribed so that topics could be coded and categorized. Five core topics emerged: 1) History of AAL, 2) Digital Composing Choices, 3) Digital Research Methods, 4) Racial Issues, and 5) Personal Stories. The data obtained from the focus groups sheds light on participants’ initial feelings of mistrust when discussing their language as well as their learned dislike for and unawareness of a language that they use every day.