Social networking and second language acquisition: Exploiting Skype™ Chat for the purpose of investigating interaction in L2 English learning

Dalton, Mallory
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This thesis examines interaction in a second language (L2) and its effectiveness in pushing the learner's interlanguage, or maturing language system, toward the target language, or L2; specifically, it seeks to determine whether those interactions considered to be most helpful in L2 development are more readily incited between two nonnative speakers (NNS-NNS) or between a nonnative speaker and a native speaker (NS-NNS) of the particular L2. Interactions between four NNS-NNS pairs and five NS-NNS pairs, where English was the L2, took place across three sessions and were structured using communicative tasks. Rather than conversing face-to-face, participants conversed through the medium of synchronous computer-mediated communication, using SkypeTM Chat. The participants' attitudes toward the technology used for interaction and their attitudes toward their interlocutors' native languages were addressed in addition to the central question regarding the type of pairing most effective for L2 interaction. The findings sustain previous conclusions of L2 acquisition theorists and researchers; NNS-NNS pairings were found to be more effective in stimulating the kinds of interactions deemed fruitful for L2 growth. The findings also offer pedagogical suggestions for L2 instructors, weighing the distinct but comparable benefits of L2 interaction that uses both pairings for different purposes in language learning classrooms.

acquisition, communicative, computer, interaction, language, learning