Chapter 5. Development of politeness strategies in participatory online environments

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Studies have shown that synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) can improve oral and pragmatic skills of language learners. This chapter analyzes the text-based SCMC conversation closings between native speakers of Spanish and a Spanish language learner in Livemocha, an online social networking site (SNS) designed for language learners. Using a conversation analytical approach, this study describes one learner’s conversation closing strategies and the evolution of these over the course of one academic year. This chapter discusses how the shift from foreshortened closings to extended closings suggests a change in rapport orientation and, thus, illustrates one component of language socialization within Livemocha. Participant interviews reveal learner perceptions of participation in the SNS and confirm Gee’s (2004) notion that spaces, and not membership, create the framework in which learning can occur.


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