Computer-Mediated Communication in Study Abroad: L2 Acquisition of Japanese Speech Style

February 27, 2024, 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Swann 320

In this talk, Joy Maa, Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, will present a case study that examines the role of written computer-mediated communication (CMC) within study abroad (SA) for second language (L2) pragmatics development from the perspective of language socialization theory.

Specifically, Maa considers the L2 socialization of an L1 German-L2 Japanese learner studying abroad in Japan into the use of Japanese speech style (desu/masu and da-tai) in her interactions with a Japanese native speaker peer on LINE, a popular Japanese text messaging application. This talk examines changes in the learner’s understanding and use of speech style in CMC over time, as well as the potential sources of those changes. Data collected over an academic semester from the CMC messages, interviews, stimulated verbal recalls, journals, and questionnaires revealed that the focal participant consistently assigned certain social meanings to speech style, such as formality and social distance to desu/masu and informality to da-tai. On the other hand, her awareness and understanding of style shifting (i.e., switching between the speech styles within a single conversation) changed over time. This change was accompanied by her learning of desu/masu for indexing self-presentation, which was in large part due to her relationship with her native speaker interlocutor and the latter’s use of speech style in LINE.

The findings of this study point to the role of CMC-in-SA as a context of L2 socialization, the affordances and limitations of naturalistic CMC for pragmatics learning, and possibilities for CMC combined with instruction for the teaching of L2 pragmatics.

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Kyoko Masuda