Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Dr. Catherine Fallona

Second Advisor

Dr. Alexander Lapidus


Literacy Language and Culture, Language and Community, Social MEdia, Cultural Diversity, English Language, K-pop, K-drama, Korean Entertainment, Fandom


This research aimed to investigate how fans of Korean entertainment from various cultural backgrounds utilize social media (SM) platforms to engage with each other. Additionally, the study examined if these social media connections offer genuine opportunities for English language practice and learning for English language learners (ELL’s). Through data collected via surveys and questionnaires and the analysis of online interactions, the study delved into the ways in which social media serves as a bridge for fans to exchange ideas and build a sense of community across diverse cultures. It also demonstrated these platforms can be a safe environment when implementing proper safety measures. The findings shed light on the significance of social media in fostering cross-cultural connections and enhancing the fan experience within the global Korean entertainment community. Educators could use this as a gateway to integrate student interests into classroom activities for a dynamic and collaborative learning atmosphere. Although not ideal for academic English practice, social media communication provided an opportunity for ELL’s to acquire useful informal communication in English. Further research should explore the possible benefits of introducing ELLs to “internet language” for online communication.

3 Social media platforms such as X (formally Twitter), YouTube, and Instagram are frequently used to engage in conversations with others all around the world. Often, people will seek out connection with those outside of their community to discuss topics ranging from politics to personal interest and hobbies. In situations where there is a lack of shared interest in the same hobbies, people will engage in virtual community to find belonging. Social media platforms are a valuable tool to feel supported and to be a part of a community of like-minded individuals through virtual friendships (Aichner et al., 2021). In online fandom communities, it is not uncommon to observe posts and discussions from international users. Through my use of social media, I’ve observed a growing number of non-native English speakers using platforms such as X and Instagram to communicate in English. As an educator of English language learners, when reading comments or responses, I recognize some signs that English may not be the primary language of the writer. The desire for connection and community is universal regardless of culture or language. However, when seeking connection outside of your immediate community, language can be a barrier. This study explored the use of social media as a conduit for culturally diverse Korean entertainment fandoms to connect and communicate. Additionally, this study investigated ways this connection within fandom communities can assist in authentic English language learning through social media. Different sectors consider English as the primary language for communicating with a worldwide audience. In their research on the correlation between social media usage and academic success among ESL learners, Akram and Abdelrady (2023) explored the concept of English as a global lingua franca. They highlight the prevalence of English in the digital era of technology and the internet (p.407).

4 To investigate these phenomena and determine if they are intertwined and interconnected, the following research questions were considered:

• How do culturally diverse fans of Korean entertainment connect through fandom communities using social media?

• In what ways do fandom communities on social media platforms support genuine English language learning?


Literacy, Language, and Culture