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Title: From awareness to engagement in meaningful conversation : exploring mechanisms of group regulation among beginner English language learners
Author: Rico Cruz, Ma. Lourdes
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 4676
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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Taking the sociocultural theory as theoretical framework, this thesis investigates the process of group regulation. It describes how regulatory mechanisms emerge and evolve in interactions among beginner English language learners considering the complexity of the dimensions involved. In an EFL context, many language learners are unlikely to encounter conditions in which they can practice their L2 and participate in meaningful conversation, even in language learning classrooms. This problem is accentuated when it comes to beginning language learners whose participation in communicative activities is likely to be even more limited. The current study starts from the premise that working in groups generates opportunities for learners to communicate in the L2 and share their learning problems with others instead of dealing with them on their own. The research explores regulatory mechanisms in conversations amongst four groups of Mexican adult beginner learners of English as a Foreign language (N=16). It enquires about the ways in which peer interactions in groups of learners mediate conversation during the completion of three open-question tasks. It also aims to explore the ways in which these language learners exert control over their limited resources to achieve their goals and to solve their emerging problems, without the guidance of a teacher. A mixed method research design was employed with a predominantly qualitative methodology. The main data was collected from the participants’ conversations during their weekly learning meetings in a Self Access Centre at a Mexican University over a nine-week period. Microgenetic analysis of their conversations provides a rich description of the moment-by-moment development of the regulatory mechanisms in play. Secondary data (such as learners' diaries, systematic observations, and group feedback) serves to complement the findings. The study resulted in the design of a new model of regulation, which suggests that during the completion of tasks, learners are confronted with the challenge of finding solutions to problems they draw on the group resources, negotiate the management of the task, and engage in meaningful communication. The findings also suggest that language learners at beginning stages can exert control over their cognitive, affective and social domains to engage in meaningful dialogues while using the target language to communicate, despite their limited resources. Understanding how groups can collaborate and regulate their actions leads to important implications for ELT. It can be concluded that language students need to be provided with favourable circumstances for group work in which they can raise their metalinguistic awareness, improve their interpersonal communication skills, experience support from their peers, use strategies to manage their communication and gain insight into their language learning process.
Supervisor: Wright, Vicky ; Zotzmann, Karin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available