The role of social networks in the acquisition of a dialectal features during study abroad

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Research shows that students who study abroad (SA) gain in communicative and discourse skills more than their at-home (AH) counterparts (Freed, 1995). However, such advantages are not automatic. For example, evidence of SA phonological advantages over AH is clear at times (e.g. Díaz Campos, 2006) while not in others (e.g. Geeslin & Gudmestad, 2011). This study adds to the conversation about phonological acquisition during SA and posits that learner social networks (Milroy, 1987) are key in such acquisition. It examines the realizations of [θ] in four English native speakers who spent one year in Madrid. Two used [θ] consistently while the other two did not. The participants’ social networks can be used, in part, to explain the discrepancy.


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