CALICO Journal, Vol 37, No 1 (2020)

Testing the Waters: Developing Interlanguage Pragmatics through Exploration, Experimentation, and Participation in Online Communities

Ellen Yeh, Nicholas Swinehart
Issued Date: 2 Mar 2020


This study presents an innovative approach to developing interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) by training students to engage in online participatory cultures and analyzing their participation through the lens of communities of practice. Participants were university-level English language learners studying in the United States who were trained on the basic layout and practices of a social news and discussion site (Reddit), then assigned weekly postings within forums based on their individual interests. Social media engagement metrics (upvotes and responses) were used to measure and observe the quantity and quality of online interaction, and post-task questionnaires and follow-up interviews investigated learner perceptions about the language and cyberpragmatics in the online communities they encountered. Quantitative results show that participants struggled to achieve high levels of interaction with other users, but qualitative results indicate a wide range of potential benefits for ILP exploration and development. The findings and implications of this study contribute towards best practices in developing strategies for ILP in online spaces and cyberpragmatic awareness among language learners, enabling them to reach higher levels of participation in online communities.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.38529


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