Interactional Development through Dinnertime Talk

The Case of American Students in Chinese Homestays

Authored by: Wenhao Diao , Yi Wang , Anne Donovan , Margaret Malone

The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138192393
eBook ISBN: 9781315639970
Adobe ISBN:


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Study abroad (SA) is often believed to provide plentiful opportunities for students to speak. But in everyday conversations, listening is also an integral part of the communication process. Listeners are neither silent nor passive. They provide verbal and nonverbal cues to show support to the speaker and/or their orientation toward what is being said. They may nod or verbally say, uh huh, yeah, or wow. Signals of the latter type, the verbal signals that indicate active listening, constitute a crucial component of verbal behaviors in everyday interaction. Conventions for using them can vary greatly across languages (Young & Lee, 2004), but there is little research examining the learning of such listening strategies among second language (L2) learners (Shively, 2015; Tao & Thompson, 1991). In this chapter, we focus on the learning and use of such verbal signals among a group of Mandarin learners interacting with their Chinese host families over the course of one semester.

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