This study examines the second language (L2) learning of politeness and social interaction in study abroad within a sociocultural and rapport management framework, reporting on longitudinal, ethnographic research of service encounters recorded in situ between L2 learners of Spanish and local Spanish service providers in Toledo, Spain. Service encounters are defined as interactions between a customer and a service provider in which some commodity will potentially be exchanged.
The participants in the study were seven U.S. American students who studied abroad for one semester in Spain during 2007. The data consist of naturalistic digital recordings that participants made of themselves while visiting local stores, banks, information desks, and other service providers. The study was longitudinal with five recordings made at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester by each student, for 113 recordings total. Other sources of data included students' weekly journals describing their service encounters and learning of politeness, interviews with participants and local Spaniards, and the researcher's field notes as a participant observer.
The findings indicate that, during the semester abroad, participants learned target language norms of politeness regarding requests, openings, and discourse markers. These developments over time in L2 politeness were connected to students' descriptions about how they learned specific politeness features, namely, through explicit instruction, observation of Spaniards, participation in service encounters, and reactions of interlocutors. Learners managed rapport in service encounters through tone of voice, positive assessments, and other face-enhancing moves.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2008. Major: Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Linguistics. Advisor: Dr. Carol A. Klee. 1 computer file (PDF); 2v (vi, 484 pages)
Shively, Rachel Louise.
Politeness and social interaction in study abroad: Service encounters in L2 Spanish.
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