Enriching Personal Growth and Communicative Competence through Self-organised Interaction between Native and Non-native Speakers

Year: 2016

Author: Hedayati, Mohsen, Nur, Shakila, Pavlyshyn, Halyna, Emery, Sherridan

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Research on the second language acquisition (SLA) reveals that studying abroad and having excessive exposure to authentic resources is one of the suitable opportunities for adult second language (L2) learners to develop their proficiency in the target language (Pellegrino, 1998). Mere experience of living in a foreign environment, however, does not necessarily help students to become proficient L2 speakers (Kenne, 2014). Kenne (2014) argues that personal growth that students undergo through interaction with others affects their language learning skills regarding proficiency and communicative competence (Canale and Swain, 1980).The present case study reports on the attempt of a self-organised group of postgraduate students to improve their communicative competence through informal interaction. Hence, the research question raised was how informal interaction between native speakers (NS) and multicultural non-native speakers (NNS) may help NNSs to foster their personal growth and, consequently, communicative competence. Furthermore, it was investigated how this development may help NNSs to have better performance during their PhD candidature. The participants of the study (n= 3 NS, 7 NNS), were involved in weekly peer circles to share and discuss cultural issues using the target language (i.e. English). These sessions were held primarily in a face-to-face manner, and then they were followed by online discussions in a Facebook group. At the end of the program, participants responded to the questions of an interview which enabled them to self-evaluate their development rate related to grammatical, sociocultural, and strategic competence.There results indicate that the majority of the participants had positive attitudes toward attending this self-organised and informal interaction sessions. They found the program effective in helping them develop personal growth, and promoting their communicative competence at different levels. The conclusion and the implications of the study will be discussed and reported. Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of com-municative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied linguistics, 1(1), 1-47.Pellegrino, V. A. (1998). Student Perspectives on Language Learning in a Study Abroad Context. Frontiers: The interdisciplinary journal of study abroad, 4(2), 91-120. Kenne, E. (2014). Study abroad: an essential part of language acquisition. Honors Program Theses. Paper 147. http://scholarworks.uni.edu/hpt/147