This study investigates the nature of interactions among native and nonnative speakers of English. The research design is qualitative and uses a microgenetic analysis approach to study collaborative dialogue. The research questions focus on the use of private speech, the cognitive regulation levels of the participants, and the intersubjectivity established in collaborative dialogue. The data is collected during a collaborative language activity in a social setting. Participants are nonnative speakers of English from Turkey and native speakers of English from the United States (n=10 over a period of three months). The theoretical framework for the study is Vygostkyan sociocultural theory.
The study focuses on the private speech use of the participants and how it relates to the cognitive regulation that they have over a language activity. The research aims to understand whether being a native speaker or a nonnative speaker of English plays a role in how peers engage in a collaborative activity in a real-world setting. The research also aims to identify categorical definitions for a systematic study of private speech and cognitive regulation in collaborative dialogue. These definitions are often missing in the previous literature in second language acquisition mainly due to the context-bound nature of private speech.
The research questions are: (1) What is the nature of private speech in terms of form, function, and content occurring in the utterances of the participants during a collaborative activity in a social setting? (2) How do participants establish and maintain intersubjectivity when there are (a) symmetrical and (b) asymmetrical relationships between their cognitive levels of self, other, and object regulation during a collaborative activity in a social setting? (3) Based on the analyses for the other research questions, what is the nature of interactions among the participants as a function of the language background of their interlocutors?
The data includes video recordings of participants, observations, and informal interviews for a period of three months. Data were collected when participants were engaged in a social word game. The study compared and contrasted the interactions between four types of pair groups: Pairs when both peers are native speakers of English, (NS-NS) pairs when both peers are Turkish nonnative speakers of English (NNS-NNS), and pairs when one of the peers is a native speaker of English and the other is a nonnative speaker of English (NS-NNS and NNS-NS). The pair groups were identified according to who is explaining a word and who is guessing a word in the game.
Findings reveal that there are no major differences in the utterances of native and nonnative speakers regarding the frequency, form, and content of private speech. The participants used both loud (n= 110) and silent (n= 86) forms of private speech very frequently. All content categories occurred both in loud and silent forms. The most frequent types of private speech content were affective markers (n= 96), hypothetical stance (n=88), labeling (n= 84), and repetitions (n= 79). The least frequent types of private speech contents were self-directed questions (8), metalanguage (35), and pause fillers (47). The analyses for the functions of private speech indicate that the same content category may serve different functions in different parts of the task. The findings for functions of the content of private speech are listed in the following paragraphs.
Affective markers are used to gain control over frustration and anxiety, to exhibit interest, to gain control over the task, to establish mutual understanding and shared orientation towards the task, to regulate peers, to provide relief, and to notice an error. There were some differences between native and nonnative speakers in their use of affective markers in order to exhibit interest in new vocabulary forms.
There were some other patterns that emerged in the study that sometimes overlapped with the private speech categories but did not precisely fit in the private speech categories. Those were comments on self-, other-, and collective-performance, task, and knowledge. There are a few instances when private speech was in Turkish. Those were affective utterances and occurred only when there were not any native speakers actively involved in the game. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Data analysis for the second research question focused on self-, other-, and object-regulation. The relationships refer to the levels of cognitive regulation in a pair group and they were identified as self/self, other/other-, object/object-, self-other, self/object, and other/object-regulated relationships based on the earlier literature. The frequency analyses indicated that self/other-regulated relationships were the most frequent for all groups. However, different native and nonnative speaker pair groups were observed to establish different relationships.
Informal interviews with the participants revealed that familiarity with the peers in a collaborative activity might play an important role in the degree of challenge in a collaborative activity.