The learner -interlocutor relationship as a factor in second language listening comprehension: A sociolinguistic perspective

Karen A Carrier, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

There has been little research from a sociolinguistic point of view on the social factors of listening, particularly status relationships, and how they affect listening comprehension. In addition, given that negotiation for meaning between learners and interlocutors has been shown to be effective in making input comprehensible to the learner (Pica, Doughty, & Young, 1986; Pica, Young, & Doughty, 1987), there is a need for research on how the social relationship between the learner and interlocutor might affect the negotiation for meaning between them and what effect this might have on the learner's listening comprehension. Based on the need for more research in these areas, two research questions were posed: (1) How does the status relationship between the nonnative interlocutor (NNS) and the native interlocutor (NS) affect the listening comprehension of the nonnative interlocutor? and (2) How does the status relationship between the nonnative interlocutor and the native interlocutor affect the amount of negotiation for meaning by the nonnative interlocutor? Ten NNSs each interviewed an equal status and a higher status NS, gathering information to complete two worksheets. Comparisons of the NNSs' worksheet answers with the answers provided by the NSs showed no statistically significant difference in the NNSs' listening comprehension between the two different status level interviews. Analysis of the interview transcripts showed no statistically significant difference in the amount of negotiation between the two different status level interviews. It did appear, however, that other factors in the social relationship might have affected the listening comprehension of the NNSs. Those factors included the gender of the NNS/NS pairs, the interaction style of the higher status NS, and the ability of the interlocutors to redefine situational status. The conclusion reached in this study was that status is only one part of the complex social relationship that exists in conversational interactions, and that a number of other factors have the potential to affect listening comprehension. More research on interactive L2 listening is needed to clarify the complex relationships involved in the social factors of L2 listening, and to contribute to the ongoing efforts toward building a theory of second language listening. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Language, Linguistics|Language, General

Recommended Citation

Karen A Carrier, "The learner -interlocutor relationship as a factor in second language listening comprehension: A sociolinguistic perspective" (January 1, 1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI9926103.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9926103

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