Influential teachers: metaphors and rhetorical strategies in language learning profiles on Instagram

2018 - present

The boom of social networks and the evolution of digital technologies have re-signified and democratized the production and consumption of information hugely. To be a creator of digital content, just a smartphone with Internet access is needed. To access the creations, just following profiles on social networks is enough. In this scenario, two important figures emerge in contemporary times: the follower and the digital influencer. This is an individual or character that has visibility on social networks. The criterion that guides the importance and power of these users-producers is precisely the huge number of followers, that is, individuals who follow and consume their posts. These new opinion makers create content on different topics: fashion, lifestyle, humor, politics, health, and also language learning. Is Instagram the influencers' favorite social network? 88.9% of influencers around the world claim that they use Instagram in their marketing campaigns (EMARKETER, 2018). The figure of the influencer seems to go beyond a lifestyle, becoming a new profession, which has even changed how companies reach their consumers. Travested by "ordinary" consumers, influencers do more than referrals and suggestions. They make announcements, advertisements, and advertisements in posts paid or motivated by exchanges with companies, the so-called publi-posts or unboxing videos. Countless profiles propose to give tips, indicate methods, and teach languages on Instagram. From a learning point of view, some questions arise: what are the digital actions and rhetorical strategies used by digital influencers in the field of English learning? What are the views of language and learning that characterize the behavior of these influencers? Are there marketing actions and strategies (sweepstakes, sponsored posts, partnerships with other influencers, etc.) in the posts of influencers-teachers of English? Which are? To answer these questions, the profiles of three influencers in the English learning area with a large number of followers on Instagram will be analyzed. After selecting the 10 most liked posts from these profiles, (a) the digital actions taken by influencers on Instagram (mentions, stories, use of hashtags, hyperlinks, user tags) will be analyzed; (b) the conceptions of language (gem) and learning present in these posts; (c) the rhetorical strategies present in the publications; and (d) the presence (or not) of digital marketing strategies.

©2020 by Ronaldo Gomes Jr.

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