Online Fan Practices and Informal Language Learning

A Lexical Bundle Analysis of YouTube Comments from BTS Videos


  • Haeun Kim Iowa State University
  • Carol A. Chapelle Iowa State University
  • Noëmie Sollier Iowa State University



online fan communities, informal language learning, lexical bundle analysis


Extensive and repeated language exposure is essential for second language learning. While not all learners can get such exposure routinely in face-to-face contexts, English language learners today create pathways to opportunities for learning English through participation in social media communities. The informal exposure to English they obtain can be driven by their passionate interest in popular culture and affiliation with communities of fans. The potential of interaction in online fandoms for language learning, however, depends in part on the language that learners are exposed to. In this study, a lexical bundle analysis was conducted to identify frequently used word combinations in YouTube comments posted under South Korean music band BTS fan-edited videos and performance videos. Lexical bundles retrieved from a corpus of 8,000 comments were investigated structurally and functionally. The bundles were found to display structural similarities with spoken registers, even though comments have unique textual characteristics. Functional analysis results showed that many of the bundles express interpersonal meanings, such as positive appraisal, with stance expressions. Findings from the structural and functional analyses of lexical bundles increase knowledge of the type of language that English learners are exposed to and can potentially benefit from by engaging in online fan communities.

Author Biographies

  • Haeun Kim, Iowa State University

    Haeun Kim is a PhD candidate in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program at Iowa State University. Her research interests include language assessments for young learners, argument-based validation in testing, corpus linguistics, writing pedagogy, and language learning in the digital wilds. Under the guidance of her PhD advisor, Professor Carol A. Chapelle, she is working on her dissertation that focuses on the task complexity of picture-based narrative writing tasks in WIDA’s ACCESS for ELLs.

  • Carol A. Chapelle, Iowa State University

    Carol A. Chapelle is Distinguished Professor and Dean’s Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University, where she teaches in the Applied Linguistics and Technology program. Recent books include Validity Argument in Language Testing: Case Studies of Validation Research (Cambridge, 2021; with E. Voss), Argument-Based Validation in Testing and Assessment (Sage, 2021), and The Handbook of Technology and Language Learning and Teaching (Wiley, 2017; with S. Sauro). She is editor of the Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (Wiley, 2013) as well as co-editor of the Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series.

  • Noëmie Sollier, Iowa State University

    Noëmie Sollier is a graduate student in applied linguistics and technology at Iowa State University. Her work focuses on self-directed language learning in primarily digital and informal settings. She is also interested in exploring innovative ways to connect formal and informal language learning.


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How to Cite

Kim, H., Chapelle, C. A., & Sollier, N. (2024). Online Fan Practices and Informal Language Learning: A Lexical Bundle Analysis of YouTube Comments from BTS Videos. CALICO Journal, 41(1), 1-24.