Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date

8-28-2012

Abstract

This dissertation seeks to discover the ways in which participation in an online social networking site affects interlanguage pragmatic development. Livemocha is an online social network centered around language learning that emphasizes the collaboration required in constructing language. This social networking site encourages learners to establish an identity through their user profiles and to reach out to other members through email, text-based chat, video chat, or peer-reviewed lessons. This study examines interaction in text-based chat between native speakers (NSs) and language learners of Spanish in this environment. Conversations were collected from seven participants over the course of one academic year to compile the corpus of data for this study. Through an analysis of user perception interviews and an interactional analysis of conversation closings, this project addresses themes discovered in conversation closing strategies, influence of native speaker language use, and user perception. Results show a variety of patterns in conversation closings between learners and NSs in Livemocha, including referencing institutional orientation, thanking, apologizing, and making future plans. The occurrences of these patterns did not change over time, though some participants saw a shift in rapport management with their interlocutors. In terms of NS influence, the conversation closings provide evidence of explicit and implicit influence by NSs on learners language use. Finally, participants who expressed high levels of enthusiasm and appreciation for Livemocha and its potential as a tool in their personal language learning showed higher levels of participation and potential for future self-motivated participation outside of the study. However, data indicated that negative perception of Livemocha and its classroom applications for language learning did not negate the potential positive impact that participation can have on learners. Overall, the results suggest that while each individual learner has a unique experience participating in Livemocha, it is a successful affinity space for language learning.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Advisor

Sykes, Julie

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gonzalez-Lloret, Marta

Second Committee Member

Wilson, Damian

Third Committee Member

Morford, Jill

Language

English

Keywords

Spanish language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers, Second language acquisition, Telematics, Telecommunication in education

Document Type

Dissertation

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