Do Students have Agency?

A Sociocultural Perspective from Chinese L2 Video Learning


  • Ting Huang William & Mary School of Education
  • Jayne C Lammers University of Rochester



Sociocultural Theory, Video Learning, Qualitative, Mediation, Agency


Much research exploring the use of videos to support language learning positions videos as tools and learners as passively engaged viewers. This study reveals that when encouraged to explore authentic Chinese videos, L2 learners actively took control of their language learning based on their personal interests. The complexity of video learning calls for deeper exploration into learners’ experiences. Using socio-cultural theory perspectives of self-, other-, and social-mediation and internalization, this article depicts heritage and non-heritage university-level Chinese language learners’ agency during informal video learning. This two-year qualitative study used semi-structured interviews, stimulus recall, participant observation, and document collection. Analysis revealed these lived experiences of participants’ agentic video learning; Learners in our study demonstrated variety in terms of social support and cultural understanding helping or hindering how videos mediated their L2 learning. Teachers should therefore design video pedagogy that considers individual students’ social worlds and purposes for L2 learning.

Author Biographies

Ting Huang, William & Mary School of Education

Dr. Ting Huang is an Assistant Professor working at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education, at College of William and Mary. She currently works on video learning, language education, Chinese community, and teacher education.

Jayne C Lammers, University of Rochester

Dr. Jayne C. Lammers is an Associate Professor in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Rochester’s Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Her scholarship explores young people’s interest-driven learning in online spaces to inform formal classroom practice.


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How to Cite

Huang, T., & Lammers, J. C. (2023). Do Students have Agency? A Sociocultural Perspective from Chinese L2 Video Learning. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 9(2), 147–174.