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Title: The targeted use of the informal register on a social networking site by foreign-language learners evaluated through linguistic analysis and perceived-context appropriateness
Author: Toetenel, Lisette
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 4562
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2018
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In today's society, complex issues relating to socio-cultural integration are a key concern for policy makers, with far-reaching implications for domestic and foreign-language policies. In an increasingly globalized world, English continues to be used by many people from diverse linguistic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, who need to communicate daily. The use of the informal register is crucial for developing successful professional and personal relationships, yet it has not received sufficient attention from foreign-language teachers, researchers and policy makers. This exploratory study addressed this research gap through the deployment of a multi-layered study, which focussed on the instruction and perception of the informal register. It is the product of a research project spanning almost five years in which it employed a one-group pretest-posttest intervention. In the intervention study, referred to as Stage One, 15 advanced foreign-language learners completed study materials comprising of listening, reading, writing and 'speaking' activities over a period of five weeks. The 'speaking' activities were undertaken using asynchronous chat on the social networking site. In addition to a linguistic assessment of the intervention, a practical evaluation was undertaken in Stage Two by speakers of English who rated Stage One posts based upon their context appropriateness. The results of the study indicate that students not only used the informal register with more frequency, but utilized a wider variety of register features and furthermore used these with greater appropriateness. Students considered instruction in the informal-register features to be beneficial. Analysis of the findings illustrated that context-perceived appropriateness is linked to characteristics of English speakers such as personal preference and knowledge of Spanish, and not to the linguistic features identified in the posts. The implications of this study for practice, theory, policy and methodology are extensive; from the need to reassess the effectiveness of traditional e-learning models for interaction to the introduction of new policies which introduce pedagogical-focused teacher training to exploit the affordances associated with the educational use of social media. The study's primary, original contribution to knowledge lies in the fact that it contributes to the debate about the teaching of informal language, by introducing dedicated instruction in the informal register, to adult learners of English, using a social networking site.
Supervisor: Yiakoumetti, Androula ; Haight, Annie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral