Type of Document Dissertation Author Sonmez, Serpil Saadet URN etd-04252011-014955 Title A Study of Private Speech and Cognitive Regulation in Native-Nonnative Speaker Interactions Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Teacher Education, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Pamela Carroll Committee Chair Jeffrey A. Milligan Committee Co-Chair Alysia Roehrig Committee Member Michael J. Leeser University Representative Keywords
- private speech
- second language acquisition
Date of Defense 2011-04-01 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis 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 include 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 word game is similar to the language activities used to elicit data in other second language acquisition research. 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. The researcher built a coding system and transcribed the audiovisual data in their entirety.
Two external raters were trained to code 40% of the data. Inter-rater reliability was achieved with over 90% agreement.
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. The functions of hypothetical stance utterances were to provide alternative solutions to a problem, to establish joint regulation and orientation towards the task, and to revise task strategies and performances in an attempt to gain self-regulation. Hypothetical stance utterances indicate planning and speculating about future activity and help to regulate the self and the other. The functions of labeling/counting were managing the task by giving it some kind of a structure, avoiding frustration and confusion, and regulating the self and the other. Repetitions were used for lexical searches, self-repairs, newly encountered vocabulary forms, establishing mutual understanding, analyzing new information, and retrieving information from existing memory.
Pause fillers indicated thinking, focusing attention and avoiding distraction. Metalanguage is used for doing lexical search and orienting each other to the task. Nonnative speaker pairs may use metalanguage in a unique way when in pairs with other nonnative speakers. Native speakers use metalanguage mostly with nonnative speakers. Self-directed questions were used mainly for controlling elements of the task.
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.
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. NS-NNS and NNS-NS groups differed in the self/other and self/object-regulated relationships. Self/other relationships occur most frequently when native speakers are the informed players in the game and in pairs with either native or nonnative speakers. When one of the peers is self-regulated and the other is other-regulated, the pair is more likely to reach the intersubjective state and to complete the task successfully when compared to other pair relationships. Self/self regulated relationships were closer to the intersubjective state. Forty percent of self-self regulated relationships were NNS-NS and 10% were NS-NNS pairs in this study.
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. Future research should also consider the quality of relationships and peers’ prolonged engagement with other peers to establish shared histories when investigating collaborative discourse and assistance received from and provided to peers. Participants in this study do not engage in activities as “native” or “nonnative” speakers and their use of private speech is not associated with their language proficiency.
The study aims at contributing to the systematic study of private speech and cognitive regulation in second language acquisition research by identifying categorical definitions of private speech form, content, and functions and adapting them to an under-explored research context. The microgenetic analysis design does not inted to generalize its findings to a larger population. The findings may not be transferrable to other contexts but the categorical definitions may provide a reference point for future researchers interested in private speech use by language learners. Future research may add to the categorical definitions presented in the study as our understanding about language learners’ private speech use increases.
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