Research

Developmental Patterns of Interlanguage Pragmatics in Taiwanese EFL Learners: Compliments and Compliment Responses

This study investigated Taiwanese English as a foreign language (EFL) learners’ developmental patterns of pragmatic transfer in the speech acts of giving and responding to compliments. By so doing, the study examined the validity of a well-known hypothesis, which has often been misunderstood, in second language (L2) pragmatics research. The corpus of the study involved 249 participants: 132 Taiwanese learners of English in Taiwan (TET), 85 Taiwanese speaking Chinese in Taiwan (TCT), and 32 American native speakers of English in the United States (AEA). A Discourse Completion Test (DCT) was used to collect the TET’s interlanguage pragmatics data and the TCT’s and AEA’s normative data. The results indicated that the Taiwanese EFL learners’ developmental patterns of pragmatic transfer supported the “bell curve” hypothesis by Takahashi and Beebe (1987). Furthermore, the study also found: (1) compared with the AEA, both the TET and TCT were more likely to ask questions when giving compliments; and (2) in addition to L2 proficiency levels, the types and contents of semantic formulas (e.g., culture-specific vs. structure-based) affect the developmental patterns of pragmatic transfer.

The Clashes and Clicks of Emergent Self and Contexts:  A Heritage Language User’s Story

This case study examined the langauge learning history of Oliver (pseudonym), a 22-year-old college student, from an SLA perspective. I decided to interview Oliver because of his heritage language learning background. As a ‘heritage language user’ of Mā-cū-huâ, I took this research opportunity to expand my knowledge in the field of heritage languages and learn about another user’s experience and perspectives. After two interviews, I discovered a theme that runs through Oliver’s language learning journey—the ‘clashes’ and ‘clicks’ of his emergent self and learning contexts. This theme concerns various sociocultural concepts and theories, including ideal and ought-to self (Dörnyei, 2009), emergence (van Lier, 2011), person-in-context (Ushioda, 2009), cultural heritage (Polinsky & Kagan, 2007), metalinguistic community (Avineri, 2014), community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991), and integrative motivation (Gardner, 2007). These elements have substantially affected Oliver’s motivation for language learning, and thus, provide an informative venue for the understanding of SLA.

“Are You Wasting Time Playing Online Games?”: Affordances for English Language Learning in “League of Legends”

This case study investigated the affordances, or learning opportunities, of playing League of Legends (LoL), the currently most played online game, for adult English as a second language (ESL) learners. By so doing, I examined four adult students’ (two ESL students and two native English speakers) social interactions when playing LoL and their interview responses about their gaming experience. Data collection involved game recordings, including in-game written and voice chats, as well as voice recordings of interviews. I conducted a thematic analysis to locate patterns in the participants’ language output that provided insights to the study’s research questions. The results suggested that the participants’ gaming experience provided affordances with regard to communicative competence, the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and affinity groups.

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