Synchronous eTandem communication between English and Korean learners : learning through international partnership and intercultural communication
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This dissertation is a report of an investigation of intercultural communication and learning in online tandem exchanges between two groups of foreign language learners: college students learning English as a foreign language at a Korean university and college students learning Korean as a heritage language at an American university. The focus was on (a) how native frames of reference were related to diverse experiences and differing functioning across dyadic partnerships; (b) how differing dyadic functioning were related to linguistic and cultural exchanges in synchronous text-based computer-mediated communication; and (c) how differing dyadic functioning were related to peer feedback exchanges on each partner’s foreign language essay and to feedback incorporation in the subsequent revision. A semiotic-ecological perspective to foreign language learning informed the research focus, design, and analysis of the study. I adopted a qualitative, embedded multiple-case study design. Data sources were transcripts from synchronous computer-mediated discourse; learner reflections produced during the telecollaborative project, from a post-project questionnaire, and from interviews; and first and revised versions of essays written in foreign languages. As analytical methods, I employed a modified grounded theory, the constant-comparative method, and techniques of discourse analysis. The findings showed that students in the two classes reported different perceptions about their experiences, and this seemed partly explained by culturally and institutionally different expectations about academic tasks and communication and by differing levels of foreign language proficiency and typing skills. Depending on how individual students configured the learning context, including the partner abroad, differing degrees of dyadic functioning emerged. Differing degrees of dyadic functioning seemed related to the degree that partnering students’ perceptions of their experiences and of each other were aligned between the two students. Differing degrees of dyadic functioning were also related to language functions, stance taking, and engagement with cultural knowledge, as exhibited in the computer-mediated discourse. In addition, differing degrees of dyadic functioning were associated with the discourse moves and content of peer feedback exchanges and ultimately with how much peer feedback was incorporated into the revision.