Negotiation for Meaning and Scaffolding Techniques: An Analysis of Social Interaction between NNS Japanese Students and NS English Instructors in a Semi-Institutional Context
AuthorPiskula, Glen A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 24-Aug-2018
AbstractThis three-article dissertation study examines one-on-one conversations between Japanese students of English and American English-speaking instructors in a semi-institutional setting. These students, who were in the U.S. for one month on a short-term study abroad program, engaged in weekly conversations with instructors as part of an ESL center's Student Help Hours Program. The SHH is a conversation program held in the student lounge, and it is designed to make trained native speakers available to answer questions about homework and hold discussions on language, culture, and various other topics. Specifically, this study combines the frameworks of Conversation Analysis (CA) and scaffolding theory in conjunction with student surveys to shed light on students' strategies to negotiate for meaning (NfM), instructors’ focus on form (FonF), and overall perceptions of program efficacy. The aim of the first article is to understand how low-intermediate to intermediate level Japanese students use confirmation checks, clarification requests, and comprehension checks, known as 3C, to successfully initiate repair on semantic, phonetic, and morphosyntactic trouble sources in conversation. A critical aspect of this analysis is the paralinguistic features students use to first identify the existence of trouble and the role of nonverbal behavior and gaze as they impact repair initiation. The second article explores how NS instructors of American English use self- and other-modification in addition to initiation, response, feedback/evaluation (IRF/E) to scaffold students on gaps and holes in their understanding of English. While three-turn sequences such as IRF/E and other predetermined instructional sequences have been criticized as inauthentic (Hall, 1995; Ohta, 1995; Kasper, 2001), my research shows higher incidences of reduced forms used in the context of semi-casual conversation. Two-turn, initiation-response (IR-only) sequences as well as self- and other-modifications of vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar were used as more subtle instructional techniques. These data reflect persisting orientations to institutional roles as participants engage in discussions of repair, but they also show the relevance of IR and IRF/E techniques to SLA via modified output. The third article uses a combination of student responses on exit surveys and conversational excerpts to evaluate the efficacy of the SHH program. It reveals mainly positive conceptions of the program and makes recommendations for improvements. The findings of this research provide a complete picture of the complex relationship between student, instructor, and institution. It has implications for second language acquisition (SLA), pedagogy, and program administration.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching