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Social Construction of Meaning by English Language Learners from Different Cultural Backgrounds


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SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING BY ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS FROM DIFFERENT CU LTURAL BACKGROUNDS By YILDIZ TURGUT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Y ld z Turgut

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This dissertation is dedicated to my family.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This research could not have been co mpleted without the cooperation of the English Language Institute (ELI ) and the advance level of re ading and writing class, who accepted to be in this study. I wish to thank the reading and writing teacher for letting me work with him closely and six participants who accepted to particip ate to this present study. Without their support and participati on, this research would not have been complete. I also must thank my doctoral committee members, Drs. Danling Fu, Zhihui Fang, Roger Thompson and Mirka Koro-Ljungberg for their invaluable support during the process of conducting and writing up this study. Each, in his/her own field of expertise, has contributed greatly to my development as a professional. I also appreciate my study group for thei r support and enormous help. Jennifer Graff, Ivy Hsieh, Takako Ueno, Jennifer Sanders and Erica Eisenberg, have all helped me through one of the most challe nging endeavors in my life. Finally, I thank my parents and my fian c for their patience and encouragement through the past five years, which has been th e source of my strengt h. My sister who is advancing in the same academic field deserves special thanks. She read my work several times and encouraged me to do better and be tter. I could not have done without you all.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES...........................................................................................................viii LIST OF FIGURES...........................................................................................................ix ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..x CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 What is Talking?...........................................................................................................3 Significance of The Study............................................................................................4 Social Constructionist Language Learning Theory...............................................5 Interactive Language Learning..............................................................................7 Social Constructionist Qualitative Research.......................................................10 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE.....................................................................................12 Social Constructionism and Language Learning........................................................12 Language Learning Through Interaction....................................................................15 Nonnative Speaker-Nonnative Speaker(s) Talk..................................................21 Talking related to reading............................................................................25 Talking related to writing.............................................................................33 Group Dynamics in Nonnative SpeakerNonnative Speaker(s) Talk.................40 Speakers' language proficiency level...........................................................40 Speakers' cultural discourses........................................................................41 3 METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................................44 Theoretical Orientation...............................................................................................44 Purpose of The Study and Research Questions..........................................................47 Subjectivity Statement................................................................................................48 The Pilot Study...........................................................................................................50 Findings...............................................................................................................53 Implications.........................................................................................................54 The Setting..................................................................................................................56

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vi Participants.................................................................................................................57 Data Collection...........................................................................................................61 Participant Observation.......................................................................................64 Interviews............................................................................................................66 Archival Data Collection.....................................................................................67 Feedback Session.................................................................................................67 Discourse Analysis.....................................................................................................67 Validity....................................................................................................................... 73 Limitations..................................................................................................................75 4 LINGUISTIC PATTERN OF DISCUSSION............................................................77 Language as the Focus in Reading.............................................................................78 Differences Between First Language and English Inhibit Decoding Words......................................................................................................79 Participants’ English Morphology and Lexicon Proficiency Level Influence Decoding Words.....................................................................81 Language as the Focus in Writing..............................................................................83 Differences in Syntactic Structures of First Language and English.............89 Challenges in Translating Culturally Embedded Concepts and Idioms from First Language to English..............................................................92 Participants’ Explorations About Thei r Language Learning with a Linguistic Focus......................................................................................................................94 Becoming Aware of Language Fossilizations.....................................................95 Learning New Vocabulary a nd Representation Ways.........................................96 Practicing Whole Language Skills......................................................................98 Role of English Language Proficiency Level in Talking..................................101 5 SOCIAL PATTERN OF DISCUSSION..................................................................104 Cultural Differences and Discussion........................................................................105 Hierarchy in Society..........................................................................................110 Directness vs. Indirectness................................................................................113 Education System..............................................................................................116 Religion.............................................................................................................121 From Cultural Differences to Group Bounding........................................................124 Group-bounding Identity as “Foreigners”.........................................................125 Participants’ Roles in the Group........................................................................130 Grammar analyst........................................................................................131 Cultural attach..........................................................................................134 Group activator...........................................................................................137 Participants’ Explorations About Their Language Learning with Social Focus......140 Interaction is a Way of Learning.......................................................................140 Transition to Student-Centered Learning..........................................................145 Developing a Sense of Audience in Their Writing...........................................148

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vii 6 IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLU SION..................................................................152 Interactive Language Learning.................................................................................152 Response Ability...............................................................................................153 Scaffolding........................................................................................................154 Feedback............................................................................................................156 Interdependence of Reading, Writing and Talking...................................................158 Focus on Form vs. Focus on Meaning...............................................................161 First Language and English...............................................................................161 Teaching Implications..............................................................................................163 Research Implications...............................................................................................165 APPENDIX A SCRIPT FOR READING SESSION........................................................................170 B INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR READING SESSION........................................171 C SCRIPT FOR WRITING SESSION........................................................................172 D INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR WRITING SESSION.........................................173 E TRANSCRIPT CONVENTIONS............................................................................174 F READING TEXTS...................................................................................................175 G PARTICIPANTS’ WRITING SAMPLES...............................................................180 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................193 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................219

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viii LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1. Participants.............................................................................................................. ...59 3-2. Week1, Group1: Hispanic & European Participants (Patricia, Vanessa, Isabel and Gosia).......................................................................................................................63 3-3. Week 2, Group 2: Asian & European Pa rticipants (KyungOk, Masami, Isabel and Gosia).......................................................................................................................63 3-4. Week3, Group3: Hispanic & Asian Par ticipants (Patricia, Vanessa, KyungOk and Masami)....................................................................................................................64 3-5. Week 4: Feedback session, all partic ipants (Masami, KyungOk, Gosia, Isabel, Patricia, Vanessa).....................................................................................................64 4-1.The roots of languages (Leon, 2006)...........................................................................79 4-2. Isabel’s summary about American culture.................................................................87 4-3. Masami’s summary a bout American culture..............................................................87 4-4. Gosia’s summary about American culture.................................................................90 4-5. Gosia’s revised summar y about American culture.....................................................91 4-6. Vanessa’s summary about death and dying course....................................................91 4-7. Patricia’s summary a bout death and dying course.....................................................93 4-8.KyungOk’s summary about death and dying course...................................................94 5-1. A part from Vanessa’s summary about the death and dying course:.......................131 5-2. Patricia’s summary about de ath and dying, second paragraph.................................133

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ix LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1 A model of the continuum of talk (Rubin, 1990).......................................................4 2-1 Theoretical framework of this present study............................................................12 4-1 Traditional way of teaching reading and writing through talking (Kern, 2003)......98 4-2 Reading and writing in this study.............................................................................99

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x Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING BY ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS FROM DIFFERENT CU LTURAL BACKGROUNDS By Y ld z Turgut May 2006 Chair: Danling Fu Major Department: Teaching and Learning This qualitative study describes the mean ing making process of English language learners with different cultural backgrounds during reading and writing activities based on a social constructionism theoretical fr amework. The data were collected through participant observations, inte rviews, archival documents and a feedback session. Six participants are from Venezuela, Honduras Poland, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan. As a researcher, I was a participant with a Turkish cultural background. Through James Gee’s macro and micro discourse analysis, the findings indicate that reading and writing discussions unite participants despite cultural an d linguistics differences. Due to the culture, Asian participants’ perception of cl assroom talk is to teach knowledge they are sure of whereas European and Hispanic partic ipants consider it as a brainstorming tool that they learn together. Gr adually, participants have c onstructed a group identity and served to the group through different ro les. Towards the end of the study Asian participants became more talkative even on a topic considered taboo in their culture.

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xi Through reading the writing of other participan ts, awareness of an audience developed in their writing. Also, peer corrections and suggestions have been considered more meaningful and easier to remember compared to the teacher’s corrections. Even though participants’ previous experi ences on English language learning were based on focus on form, through this study they both focused on fo rm and meaning. The implications of this study indicate that teachers should be aware of the importance of learning students’ cultural backgrounds. We can inform Asian pa rticipants about the multifarious purposes of having discussion, which include brainsto rming and thinking together not simply replacing the teacher. Applying small-group ac tivities might be used as a transition period for those learners to speak in class. Sm all-group activities help them to share their ideas with few members first and then to shar e and verbalize in front of the whole class. For teachers who do not use group activities (e.g., this teacher) and who might considered reading and writing activities as separate from conversation (e.g., this teacher), this study can provide a guide to help them understand an d apply collaborative activities in their classroom. Researchers need to investigate in more detail where and when we should apply group work activities so that it will be more helpful to students’ language learning during reading and writing. Through a l ongitude study the transition from the participants’ second/foreign language acquisi tion to literacy development should be observed. This way the long term effects of group discussions on r eading and writing can be better understood. More advanced research might evaluate diffe rent, non-traditional, classroom arrangements and the effect of th ese arrangements on stude nt behavior as well as the overall learning process. This kind of research might provide information about the role of teachers and student training.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Historically, the theoretical framework of English language teaching moved from behaviorist to cognitive and recently from c onstructivist to social constructionism (Flood et al., 2004). According to the social construc tionist perspective, language learners create their own meanings thro ugh interactions with others in the classroom. However, in most cases this theoretical movement has rarely b een transferred into pr actice. For instance, classroom observations conducted at the English Language Institute (ELI) of the University of Florida during 2002-2004 indicate d that especially during the grammar and reading and writing classes, teacher talk dominat ed the class time rather than student talk. While covering the topics in reading and writing classes, teachers spent more time on lecturing than any group or pair work activities. Therefore, students had few chances to speak out in the class except for asking ques tions or requesting clar ifications, and these opportunities to speak were within the framew ork of a teacher-centered classroom. This dominance of teacher talk is also reported in other studies (i.e., Berducci, 1993; Christoph & Nystrand, 2001; Duffy, 1981; Goodlad, 1984; Gutierrez, 1993, 1994; Gutierrez & Larson, 1994; Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991, 1997; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). Also, during my observations of the advanced le vel reading and writi ng class at the ELI, I realized that students in this class wrote “for the teacher” not even “to the teacher.” Writing “for the teacher” indica tes that students do the writing to accomplish the task given by the teacher. Writing “to the teacher” indicates that students consider their teacher as an audience in their writing and c onsidering their audience (their teacher) they

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2 perform the writing task. “Writing to the teacher” shows that students know that somebody (their teacher) will read it; therefore, they have an audience in mind while doing the writing task. Hence, writing is a m ean of communication and meaningful task to do. As I have learned English as a foreign language, I am aw are of the fact that writing in English is thought of as an exercise in proving competence in grammar, sentence completion, and paragraphing. In most cases these exercises are done as individually rather than a group work. Observing the si milar teaching ways at the ELI, made me questioned where this practice fits into the theoretical movement from constructivism to social constructionism? My observations revealed th at interactive language lear ning was not applied in the teacher-centered classroom. Through inter active language learning several language skills can be combined, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. However, based on the curriculum of the ELI, these language sk ills are paired as reading and writing, and speaking and listening (ELI, 2005). Therefore, the implementation of activities where all language skills are emphasized in one cla ss or not depends on the teacher and the characteristics of classroom activities. Ev en though reading and writing are separated from listening and speaking, students can sti ll have a chance to practice all language skills through creating discussion environments. At th e ELI, students with different cultural backgrounds can share th eir linguistic and cultural expe riences with each other, which might enhance their understanding of reading texts and improve their writing through each other’s feedback. In such an environment how do stude nts make meaning of the reading texts and scaffold each other to write better?

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3 There is a general trend in education to move from a teacher-centered to a studentcentered learning environment—it is not limited to trends in English language learning. However, due to limited class time, the numbe r of topics that teachers must cover, in addition to being expected to prepare st udents to take the TOEFL and GRE exams, teachers have relied on the teacher-centered approach, especially lecturing format. In reading and writing classes, te acher-lecture format is employed more frequently than student-centered group discussions. Considering these three general points (soc ial constructionism, interactive language learning and student-centered a pproach) related to English la nguage learning at the ELI, there is a need for a study which investigat es the process of ESL learners’ interaction within small groups during advanced level r eading and writing cla sses at the ELI in University of Florida. The purpose of this study is to invest igate the advanced level ELI students’ meaning-making process in small group inte ractions during reading and writing. Based on this research purpose, the following research questions will be asked: 1. How do English language learners’ lingui stic knowledge of L1 and English influence discussions? 2. How do students’ language and cultural experiences infl uence their interactions during discussions? 3. How does interactive language lear ning interfere language learning? What is Talking? Talk is not just a form of social action; it is also a social mode of thinking by which humans can jointly construct knowledge and understanding (Mercer, 1995). Human beings use talk to give ideas a form of real ity, to dispute them, to share them and develop them together; they use language to construc t cultures. People collectively create and

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4 establish language pr actices for doing so. Talking creates a capability for organizing ways of thinking together (Mercer, 1996). One way to describe talk is to think a bout the range of audi ences with whom we can interact (Rubin,1990). When we talk to a nother person one-on-one, it is characterized as personal conversation; if the conversation includes severa l individuals we know, it is characterized as small group discussion (Rubin,1990). Types of Talk Inner Conversation Small Gr oup Recitation Broadcasting Speech Discussion INFORMAL FORMAL Self Spontaneous Spontaneous Talk with Technologically Talk with an Talk with Large Group Mediated Talk Individual Individuals with Extended Audience Audience Figure 1-1. A model of the c ontinuum of talk (Rubin, 1990). Discussion is a forum of collaboratively constructing meaning and for sharing responses (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). It refers to interactive events in which individuals collaboratively construct meaning or consider alternative interpretations of text in order to arrive at new understandings (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). In this present study the terms discussion and talk will be used interchangeably. Significance of The Study This study will contribute to at least three areas within the grow ing field of English language-learning research. First, this study e xplores the possibilit ies in transforming theory into practice by applying social cons tructionist and studen t-centered learning within a classroom. Second, there is a need to combine all language skills (talking, reading, writing) in language le arning classes as several stud ies reveal that all skills

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5 contribute to each other and to general language learning. Lastly, in the field of English language teaching and learning th ere is a need for a qualitative study based on a social constructionist theoretical framework in whic h participants will contribute to not only data collection but also data analysis. Unlike previous studies, in this study incorporates the participants’ contribution into both th e collection and analysis of data, thus maximizing participant input that gives educ ators more insights into the interaction process. Social Constructionist Language Learning Theory There is a need for the transfer from theo ry to practice in terms of applying social constructionist and student-centered learning in English language learning classrooms. While learning a language, students not onl y learn the language from a linguistic perspective—linguistic competence (Choms ky,1965)—but they also learn language from cultural perspectiv e—communicative competence (Hymes, 1967). While reading a text in English, language learners need to be e quipped not only with the linguistic knowledge (syntax, semantics, morphology), but also w ith cultural referrals (Gee, 1992). Cultural referrals are what the author re fers to and what it means in the target cultural context. Moreover, as Rosenblatt (1978) indicates, what a reader understands from a text can vary among readers because of their different background knowledge and experiences. If a reading text is discusse d, each participant (because he/she is coming from a different cultural background) can pr ovide new meanings, as a result of which new meanings are construc ted within a group through di scussions and negotiations (Anderson & Roit, 1996; Garcia, 1993; Ge rsten, 1996; Kong & Pearson, 2003). In that sense, this study can provide a discourse fo r the meaning making process of a reading text by ELI students coming from different language and cultural backgrounds.

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6 There is a growing body of research in small group interactions in ESL studies (Alvermann, 1995, 1996; Bridges, 1988; E llsworth, 1989; Goldbatt & Smith, 1995; Gore,1993; Grant, 1996). Studies about native speakers’ interac tions within a group (e.g., Hinchman & Young, 2001), indicate that students might feel oppressed when they speak and discover disagreement, disinterest, or disapproval in others ’ reactions to their words. Then, what happens in the case of nonnative speakers’ interactions when they discover disagreement, disapproval in othe r group members’ reactions to their comments? These socio-cultural issues embedded in language learning should be investigated further within thei r discourses. In that sense, this study can provide insights to both English language teachers and learners enrolled in simila r programs like the ELI that will guide them in their classroom activities. Studies indicate that small group work pr ovides a greater variety of discourse moves in initiating discussions, asking for clarification, interrup ting, competing for the floor, and joking (Long et al., 1994; Almasi, 1995; DeLuca, 2004). However, in regards to group work, studies focus mainly on individual s’ gains as an end pr oduct of interaction with other group members (Long et al., 1994; Pica et al., 1989; Swain, 1993; Markee, 2000; Turner & Paris, 1995). However, rath er than individual gains, the gains of language learners as a group in reading and writing through the group interaction remains to be more carefully examined. Group work usually demands that students with different cultural backgrounds be paired either randomly (Schwart z, 1980) or according to th eir language proficiency. Their cultural backgrounds are often ignored in thes e studies. Considering this is an ignored field, studying the interactions of participants with differe nt cultural backgrounds allows

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7 for the possibility of understanding and theori zing cross cultural in teraction. To achieve such understanding, the following questions must be answered: how does culture influence language learning and interaction? Can cultural differences be turned into group unity? If so, how does it happen? Interactive Language Learning There is a need to combine all language skills in langua ge learning class activities as more and more studies reveal that all la nguage skills contribute to each other and to general language learning. Several studies have proved that talking have a positive impact on other language skills, which e nhance language learning, such as reading comprehension (Almasi, 1995; Galda et al., 2000; Rodriguez-Garcia, 2000) and writing (Britton, 1975; Hillocks, 1986; Kennedy, 1983; Sw eigart, 1991; Zoellner, 1969). This is the case at different levels of age and language proficiency (Brooks & Swain, 2001; Kowal & Swain, 1997). Likewise, combini ng different language skills through interaction (Edelsky et al., 1983) enables lear ners to produce different kinds of output, which is also an important factor in acqui ring language. Such output and input should be provided in a meaningful language learning environment (Swain, 2002). Discussions and meaning making can provide an optimal language learning environment (Long, 1980; Long & Porter, 1985; Pica & Doughty, 1985a; Va ronis & Gass, 1985) in which students of different skill levels participate collaborati vely in order to accomplish tasks, such as discovering a text’s linguist ic and cultural background info rmation. Also, interactive language learning helps students to combine academic language and basic communication language skills. Studies in the field of second language read ing and writing that focus on the role of talking in reading activities re port that students who are given the opportunity to work in

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8 discussion groups have better reading comp rehension (Rodriguez-Garcia, 2001; Yano et al., 1994), vocabulary gain (Ruddell, 1994; Klinger & Vaughn, 2000) and learner autonomy (Alvermann, O’Brien, &Dillon, 1990; O’Flahavan, 1989; Slavin, 1990; Prawat, 1989; Eeds & Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Gambrell &Almasi, 1996; Almasi, 1995; Almasi & Gambrell, 1994; Eeds &Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Sweigart, 1991; Martinez, et al.,1992; McGee, 1992). Talking can be performe d during different stages in the writing process, such as at the be ginning to clarify topics and attempt pre-writing activities (Sweeigart, 1991); in the middle, during com position of a piece of writing (Storch, 2000, 2001a, 2001b); and at the end, during revision and editing processe s (Villamil & de Guerrero, 1998, 2000; Tang & Tithecott, 1999; Pa ulus, 1999; Storch, 1999 ). Studies that focused on revisions (e.g., St orch,1999) conclude that co llaborative revision provided more benefit to learners. All these studies indicate three major poi nts: first, reading-talking and writingtalking are considered separately in the research field, but not the interrelation of reading and writing through talking; sec ondly, related to this separateness, talking before writing and after writing (for revision) has not been co mbined and investigated in a research; last, whether collaborative revision is more benefi cial to learners than pair work (Storch, 1999), and what is its implicat ions might mean. Therefore, we need to know what happens if students read a te xt in a group. Then, research must examine what happens after discussing, as they write about it and then revise what they have written through discussion. Earlier studies have only provided inquiries into ha lf of this problem, so the this study allows us to see how talking plays a role both in reading and writing activities which are interrelated with each other.

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9 In the literature of second language acquisi tion, studies indicate that when students with lower and higher level la nguage proficiency are paired, surprisingly less proficient ones have been shown to help more prof icient ones (Kowal &Swain, 1997). Recently, this comparison of lower and higher proficienc y level has gained a more specific focus, examining how even in the same language proficiency level, students’ language proficiency level varies (Rodriguez-Garcia, 2001). Also, native speakers’ scaffolding nonnative speakers has been widely studi ed (Long, 1985, 1996; Peregoy & Boyle, 2001; Brown, 2000; Lightbown & Spada, 2001). Compar ed to native-nonnative interaction even though students’ negotiate more in nonnative–nonnative interaction (Varonis & Gass, 1985), there is limited research a bout it. Then, how do both less and more proficient nonnative students be longing to the same general proficiency level contribute to each other’s learning? Storch (2000, 2001a, 2001b) and DiCamilla and Anton (1997) indicate that when students are paired, each participant takes a ro le. Storch’s categoriz ation of these roles based on equality (authority over the task) a nd mutuality (level of engagement with each other’s contribution) indicate four di fferent combinations: collaborative, dominant/dominant, dominant/passive a nd expert/novice. Additionally, related to grouping, the literature (Dill on, 1994; Potter & Anderson, 1976; Spear, 1993) suggests some possible roles that might be assigned to the participants by the teacher such as being a note taker, controller, so forth. However, I wonder, if students are given a chance to decide on their own, what kind of roles naturally emerge during those interactions; what kind of roles participants took on their own when they are grouped instead of being paired? Through the roles they have chosen, how do they scaffold each other?

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10 Social Constructionist Qualitative Research In the field of English language teachi ng and learning there is a need for a qualitative study based on a social construc tionist theoretical pe rspective in which participants contribute not only to the process of data colle ction, but also to the data analysis to show how social constructionist language lear ning activities, process and research are embedded within each other. Studi es examining the peer interaction, social constructionism and discourse include mi xed-method studies that incorporate both qualitative and quantitative methods (i.e ., Rodriguez-Garcia, 2000; Kong & Pearson, 2003; Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991); however, there are not enough studies that are totally qualitative. For example, Hinchman and Young (2001) examined the peer interaction of two adolescent native speakers of English students (one white male, and one AfricanAmerican female) with their classmates unde r the social construc tionist theoretical framework and employed critical discourse an alysis. However, the participants had a minor role in the research. In other words, they were not involved in the data analysis process. Therefore, there is a need for furt her investigation of sm all group interaction of participants who are comi ng from various cultural b ackgrounds within nonnativenonnative speaker discourse (Glew, 1995; Pica et al ., 1989; Sato, 1990) through a qualitative study based on a social constr uctionist theoretical framework. This study would give the participants a greater role in terms of their contri bution to the study by including them throughout the da ta collection and data analysis processes, allowing for a deeper investigation of peer interaction and thei r meaning making process. This study can enhance our knowledge in the social constructionist, studentcentered language learning environment. Mo reover, this study can also enhance our knowledge in the area of inter active language application prov iding language learners the

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11 chance to practice all language skills (especially the influe nce of talking about reading and writing) besides practicing academic and basic language skills. Also, by including participants in the data anal ysis section, this study can e nhance our insight of language learning and meaning-making via social -constructionist qualitative research.

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12 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE This review of literature starts with th e teaching and learning theory of social constructionism and its role in second language learning. As the focus of this research is how English language learners coming from different cultural backgrounds make meaning of text (reading texts and their su mmaries), understanding the role of social constructionism in language learning can pr ovide insights to the role of interaction, constructing meaning, and social collaboration. Within social constructionist theoretical framework, the Interactive Language Learning h ypothesis serves as a mid-level theory in the present study. Within Interactive Language Learning specific role s of talk on reading comprehension and writing are examined further. Social constructionism Interactive Language Learning Through Talking Impact on Reading Comprehension Impact on Writing Figure 2-1. Theoretical framew ork of this present study. Social Constructionism and Language Learning As a theoretical framework of this pres ent study, social constructionism based on the constructionist epistemology is used for socially impacted construction, which refers to “the collective generation [and transmissi on] of meaning” (Crotty, 1998). That is, meaning is constructed by human beings when they engage with the world that they are

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13 interpreting; it is not discovered (Crotty, 1998). For that reaso n, reality is the product of social construction processes under the influe nce of cultural, historical, political, and economic conditions (Berger and Luckmann, 1967; Dean & Rhode 1998; Geertz, 1973; Gergen, 1985, 1991). As knowledge is socially constructed, not only knowledge can vary historically over time and differ across cultu ral groups that hold diverse beliefs about human development and nature, but also th e social construction of knowledge varies. Therefore, we cannot expect our interpretation to be a case of merely mirroring “what is there.” When we describe something, we are, in the normal course of events, reporting how something is seen and reacted to, and thereby meaningfully constructed, within a given community or set of communities. Acco rding to the social constructionist view, reality is always filtered through human la nguage –we cannot gain direct access to it (Berger & Luckmann, 1967; Gergen, 1994). “Rat her than reflecting the world, language generates it” (Witkin, 1999 p. 5), coordinates and regulates social life (Gergen, 1994). In other words, language include s all social, economic, cultur al knowledge within itself (Berger & Luckmann, 1967; Gergen, 1985, 1994). Th erefore, learning a language is also learning a culture and a society. Sometimes referring to social constr uctionism, in Second/foreign Language Learning different terms are used, such as so cial constructivism and socio-constructivism. However, in some cases these terms might be referring to social constructionism which focuses on individual learners’ meaning making process, their motivational and cognitive experiences (Flood et al., 2003; Salomon, 1993) rather than constructing meaning as a social group. Therefore, this type of social constructionism is closer to constructivism rather than social paradigm and it serves as a transition from constructivism to social

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14 constructionism which emerged in the late 80s by Bahtin (1981, 1990), Bruner (1990), Cole and Engestrom (1993), Wells (1999), a nd Wertsch (1991).They were trying to understand “how humans function as individuals, as the sepa rate, unique nexus for forces working on personality tendencies, and mo tivations” (Flood et al., 2003 p 34). Even though this type of social constructionism differs from the constructivist perspective which focuses more on information processing (behaviorist notions on this dimension), the socioconstructivist perspective shares similarity with constructivism in terms of how the learner constructs inte rpretations of ongoing events through making sense of language and life within the cultural/social/h istorical milieu into which every person is born and lives (Flood et al., 2003). Also, the term “socio-cultural” might be used interchangeably with social constructionism, but in some cases as Mercer (1996) states it might refer to society level (home, school, working class cu ltures) with more critical a nd political perspectives (i.e., Au, 1997; Barton, 1994; Bloch, 1993; Street,1984). In this pr esent study, socio-cultural term is used interchangeably with social co nstructionism referring to the cultural meaning of a situation in which learni ng is taking place and to the social practices with power differentials that influence teachers and learners in learning situations (Flood et al., 2003). Nieto (1999) summarizes the socio cultu ral perspective on learning and education referring to social constructionism: learning develops primarily from social re lationships and the actions of individuals that take place within particular sociopo litical contexts. That is to say, learning emerges from the social, cultural, and political spaces in which it takes place, and through the interactions and relationships that occur among learners and teachers. (p.2) Consequently, in this study grounded by soci al constructionism I am referring to constructing meaning through interaction and w ith a social focus as suggested by Gergen

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15 (1994) and Gee (1996, 2002). Applying this frame work into language learning indicates that knowledge is produced by a society of me mbers in which indivi dual learners bring their own cultural background knowledge contribu ting to constructions of new meanings. Learning occurs while people are participati ng in the sociocultural activities of their learning community, transforming (i.e., constructing) their understanding and responsibilities as they participate (Lav e &Wenger, 1991; Oxford, 1997; Rogoff & Lave, 1984). In a community of learners, both childr en and adults are activ e in structuring the inquiry conversationally, alt hough usually in asymmetric ro les (Oxford, 1997). In social constructionism, the emphasis is on the learning process, rather than just the completion of projects, in activity-based situations with meaningful purposes in which students becomes acculturated, enculturated, or reacculturated (i.e., apprenticed into a particular learning culture or environment (Bruffee ,1993) through classroom activities and through the modeling and coaching of the teacher a nd many others (Oxford, 1997). Rather than just a teacher/learner dyad, many actors and many different kinds of relationships exist in which many people can provide the scaffolding that the students needs (Oxford, 1997). Language Learning Through Interaction Within social constructionist framewor k of language learning, Interactional Language Learning will serve as a mid-level th eory in this presen t study. Interactional language learning combines both Input (Krashen, 1982) and Output (Swain, 1985) hypothesis. According to Input hypothesis (Krahen,1982), second la nguage acquisition does not occur when learners are memo rizing vocabulary or completing grammar exercises, but occurs when they receive comprehensible input. One of the components that shape the input hypothesis is the “affective filter”, which refers to a language acquisition environment in which learners ’ anxiety level is low and there is no

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16 defensiveness. According to Krashen (1982), producing output might cause this filter to get increased with the result of no or less language learning. When students feel comfortable, they will produce output. However, some researchers argued that comprehensible input is not sufficient for the L2 learners to attain a high level of L2 proficiency (Hammerly, 1987; Harley, 1993; Ha rley & Swain, 1978; Izumi et al., 1999). Findings from these studies have shown th at although comprehensib le input helps L2 learners to gain high level listening comp rehension skills and communicative fluency, these students have weaknesses in grammatical accuracy (Izumi et al., 1999). One of the reasons for that weakness is that learners had a little chance to pr actice using the target language in classroom (Swain,1985) either because of the limited class time or because of the teacher-talk domination (Allen et al., 1990; Swain, 1985, Izumi et al., 1999). Focusing on these drawbacks of the input theory, Swain (1985,1993) developed ‘output hypothesis’ as an alternativ e to Krashen’s “Input theo ry” (Kasagna, 1996). Output hypothesis suggests that in addi tion to receiving comprehensib le input, learners must produce comprehensible output; in other words, explicit attention must be paid to the productive language skills for speaking and wr iting. During this process, in order to develop communicative competence, learners need to be “pushed toward the delivery of message that is… conveyed precisely, c oherently, and approp riately” (Swain, 1985,p. 249). Pica, Holliday, Lewis, and Morganth aler (1989) supported Swain’s idea of emphasizing the importance of comprehensible output in L2 learni ng as a function of linguistic demands (Kasagna,1996). Overcoming the limitations of both I nput and Output hypothesis (only being exposed to comprehensible input; being pushe d to produce output without a meaningful

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17 context), Interactionist theory emphasizes the dynamic nature of the interplay between learners, their peers and their teachers and others with whom they interact (Brown, 2000). The interpersonal context in which a learner operates has great significance; therefore, the interaction among the learners is the fo cus of observation and explanation (Brown, 2000). The relationship between social interacti on and L2 acquisition has been the focus because the first systematic studies on these questions were undertaken in the late 1970s and early 1980s (see e.g., F aerch & Kasper, 1983; Hatch, 1978; Long, 1983), and to date, the role of social interaction in L2 acquisiti on has received very different interpretations in research that can be c onsidered into thr ee categories: a weak, a strong (Mondada & Doehler, 2004), and an intermediate. The weak version of the interactionist approach acknowledges that interaction is beneficial (or even necessary; e.g., Gass & Varonis, 1985) for learning by providing opportunitie s for learners to be exposed to comprehensible, negotiated, or modified input (e.g., Long, 1983, 1996). This version basically assumes that social interaction plays an auxiliary ro le, providing momentary frames within which learning processes are supposed to take place. Contrary to this position, the strong versi on of the interactionist approach considers interaction as a fundamentally constitutiv e dimension of learners' everyday lives (Mondada & Doehler, 2004). That is, interaction is the most basic site of experience, and it functions as the most basic site of orga nized activity where learning can take place. According to this view, social interacti on provides an interactional frame in which developmental processes can take place and as a social practice, it i nvolves the learner as a co-constructor of joint activ ities, where linguistic and ot her competencies are put to

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18 work within a constant process of adjustment vis-a-vis other social agents and in the emerging context (Mondada & Doehler, 2004). This position is typically adopted by conversationalist (Bange, 1992; Gajo& M ondada, 2000; Krafft & Dausendschon-Gay, 1994; Pekarek, 1999) or sociocultural (Hall, 1993 ; Lantolf, 2000; Lantolf & Appel, 1994; Lantolf & Pavlenko, 1995) approach to L2 acquisition. The intermediate version refe rs to the combination of Interactional hypothesis with the Output hypothesis in which output is produced in a meaningful process through interaction: peer–peer dialogue (Swain et al., 2002). This addition includes sociocultural perspective to the output hypothesis based on Vygotksy’s (1978) Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and it highlights collabora tive learning through the dialogue form in writing, speaking, listening and re ading activities. Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory posits that activities which are external to the learner but in which he or she participates (interpsychological) are transformed into mental ones (intrapsychological). “Psychological processes emerge first in colle ctive behavior, in co-operation with other people, and only subsequently become internalized as th e individual’s own ‘possessions’” (Stetsenko & Arievitch, 1997, p.161). The pr ocess of internalization occurs via language either interpsychologica lly through dialogic in teraction (Donato & Lantolf, 1990; Lantolf, 2000), or intrapschol ogically through privat e speech (Lantolf, 2001). The output hypothesis affected by Inte ractional Language Learning hypothesis focuses mostly on the dialogic (interpers onal) interaction (Swain, 2000), and Swain (1997) called it as “collaborat ive dialogue”. In collaborati ve dialogue, learners work together to solve linguistic problems a nd develop cultural proficiency. During this collaborative process, language serves not only as a cognitive tool in a sense that it

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19 enables to process and manage meaning making, but also as a social t ool in a sense that it enables communication with other learners. As an important impact of this collaborative dialogue, the pattern on the out put communication has changed: While at the beginning the output has a linear pattern, one of the l earners produces output the other one gives feedback, this collaborative dialogue inte raction has enabled the circular output movement: “the messages are transmitted as output from one source and received as input elsewhere” (Swain & La pkin, 1998, p:320; Wells, 2000). In other words, within a circular movement an utterance can be cons idered both as a process and a product (Swain and Lapkin, 1998; Wells, 2000): as “saying” and as “what was said.” “What they said” becomes an object on which the speaker or other participants can work further and later it turns into resource (input) for other participants. Furthermore, affecting the Output hypot hesis, Interactional language learning enables delivering the negative feedback eff ectively through dialogue and interaction. Presenting feedback in negotiation provides a context in which “error correction is considered as a social activity involving join t participation and mean ingful transactions between the learner and the teacher” (Na ssaji &Swain, 2000 p.35). Aljaafreh & Lantolf (1994) examined corrective feedback in di alogic process and its relationship to the learners’ interlanguage. Their study found th at the usefulness of corrective feedback mostly depends on the nature of the transac tion and mediation provided by the expert in this procedure. The analysis of the dialog ic interactions between the learner and the expert revealed that every type of error treatment was effective in so far as it was negotiated between the learner and the teacher and was provi ded at the right point or within the Zone of Proximal Development. Mo reover, in a more detailed study, Nassaji &

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20 Swain (2000) compared the effectiveness of getting collaborative feedback and random feedback in this dialogic pro cess. The results indicate that th e collaborative help is more effective than the random one (Nassaji &Swa in, 2000). While in previous studies (i.e., Carroll & Swain, 1993; Schmidt & Fonda, 1986) presented the be nefit of negative feedback over the positive feedback, recently th e effectiveness of the positive feedback is also underlined (i.e., Spada & Lightbow n, 1993). Even though which one is more efficient is still in debate (Robb et al., 1986) the certain thing is how one will deliver the negative feedback has changed: through dialogue and interaction. Who can be the participant of interaction in the Interactional Language Learning hypothesis is also changing. That is, the common idea that all interactions can occur with the presence of a more knowledgeable person who will help the learner to move from being able to do something only with the help of that expert to being able to do it independently (ZPD) (Vygotksy,1987) has chan ged. While the exper t/novice pair has typically been considered as an adult (e .g., parent, teacher) (Wer tsch, 1985), in recent years, the idea that peer-peer interaction ma y also foster learning has been advanced (Tudge, 1990; Wells, 1999). This idea has ex tended within sociocultural SLA by suggesting that in peer to peer interaction, peers can be concurrent ly experts and novices (Brooks & Swain, 2001; Kowal & Swain, 1997). Fu rthermore, peers working within the ZPD of each other can support learning th rough, for example, questioning, proposing possible solutions, disagreeing, repeating, and managing activities a nd behaviors (social and cognitive) (DiCamilla &Anton, 1997; Donato, 1994; Ohta, 2001; Swain & Lapkin, 1998; Tocalli-Beller, 2001). Conse quently, how acquisition occurs in interaction, not as a

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21 result of interaction (Swain and Lapkin, 1998: 321; Swain, 2000) has become the new focus of the output hypothesis affected by the interactional hypothesis. Nonnative Speaker-Nonnative Speaker(s) Talk Within Interactional hypothesis, various combinations of interactions can occur facilitating language learning, such as na tive-nonnative speaker (N-NNS), Nonnativenonnative speaker (NNS-NNS), teacher-stude nt, adult-child, peer-interaction, through writing and oral. The focus of this presen t study is NNS-NNS, as a face-to-face, oral, peer interaction in a small group. It is quite common for people to contrast ‘talking’ with ‘doing’—‘he’s all talk, he never gets things done’. But ‘talking’ can be ‘doing’, of course, a form of social action (Mercer, 1996). People use spoken language to account for themselves, to pursue their interests and try and make other people do what they want. Such ideas have been explored in an interesting line of pragmatics research, fr om philosophers (e.g. Austin, 1962) through the ethnomethodologists (e.g. Sc hegloff et al., 1977) into conversation analysts (e.g. Drew & Heritage, 1992). But talk is not just a form of social action, it is also a social mode of thinking by which humans can jointly construct knowledge and understanding (Mercer, 1995). Human beings use ta lk to give ideas a form of reality, to dispute them, to share them and develop them together; they use language to construct cultures. People collectively cr eate and establish language practi ces for doing so. It is this capability for organizing ways of thinking together (Mercer, 1996). Educational theorists and researchers of ten present the discussion as something that should be strived for because it a llows for greater student expression and involvement and results in increased learni ng (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). This is usually part of a Vygotskian framework that views social interaction as effectively driving

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22 cognitive development (Vygotsky, 1978). Within this framework, discussion is essentially dialogic; it is not completely contro lled by a single participant; rather it occurs as natural conversation in which individuals e ngage in a free and open exchange of ideas. According to Lindfors (1990), effective disc ussions are an “ongoing process of inviting and sustaining children’s talk and response… as they carry out their deepest human urgings; to connect with othe rs, to understand their world, and to reveal themselves within it” (p.38). The second reason for growing interest in discussions is that discussion enables the meaningful integration of th e language arts (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). Discussion brings together listening, speaki ng, and thinking skills as participants engage in exchanging ideas, responding and reacting to te xt as well as to the ideas of others. Thirdly, and most importantly, so cial constructionist theory of learning views students as active learners who engage in the construction of knowledge. These theories suggest that the primary goal of instruction is to help students construct personal meanings in response to new experiences rather than to transmission of knowledge (Poplin, 1988). Therefore, there is the clear link between discussion and the social construction of knowledge; in other words, meaning making is learned through the social interaction of students, especially when they discuss a nd interpret text in small groups (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). Ways of meaning making ar e made public as students observe and participate in discussions about text which in turn makes students become part of the “active conversation that is reading, the c onversation between th e reader and text, between text and community and among other readers” (Straw and Bogdan (1993), p.4) (p.27). Thus, talking plays an important role in language learning as commonly a social, rather than an individual, activity; intellectual development is essentially a culturally-

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23 situated, guided process; and becoming educat ed is largely a matte r of learning certain ‘ways with words’ in a community of Discourse (Mercer, 1996). Through a study on the amount of interac tion opportunities available to ESL learners in three ESL classrooms, Berducci (1993) expected to find that more than half of the classroom interaction time “would be spent using the participation structures in which negotiated interaction could take place” (p.13). The findings revealed 86% of the time in one class and 80% of the time in another was spent in participation structures in which negotiated interaction could occur. A convers ation-only class spent only 3% of the time in activities in which nego tiated interaction could occur. Even though there was interaction in each class, hard ly any of it consisted of m eaning being negotiated and only an insignificant amount of negotiated interaction occu rred between the students themselves. Moreover, the results indicated that it was primarily the teachers who negotiated with the students (Glew, 1998). Although the teachers observed in Ber ducci's (1993) study acknowledged the need to replace more traditional teaching met hods with a curriculum based on a practical communicative approach, which capitalized on interaction activity to promote language learning, this was rarely translated into the class lessons (Glew, 1998). It is interesting to ask if negotiated inte raction is crucial for second langua ge acquisition then why there was so little time spent giving students the opport unity to engage in negotiation with the teacher and other students. Also, when nego tiated interaction occu rred, who received the opportunities to engage in it; what types of in teraction that occur in their classrooms; and how students contribute to each others’ lear ning. Answering these questions reflect on

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24 teaching practice and curriculum implementatio n, which have the potential to facilitate second language development in the classroom context (Foster, 1998). How pairs and small groups are grouped is important in the collaborativedialogue. For instance, grouping nonnative-nonn ative (NNS-NNS) and nonnative-native speaker (NNS-NS) might impact output and interaction. On one ha nd, through interacting with a native speaker, language learner learns language (Long, 1985, 1996; Pregoy & Boyle, 2001; Brown,2000; Lightbown & Spada, 2001). On the other hand, it has been demonstrated that more negotiation of mean ing may occur when two NNS are interacting than when a NS and NNS are inte racting (Varonis & Gass, 1985). Schwartz (1980) investigated the six nonnativenonnative college level speakers’ negotiation of meaning through repairs in a c onversation through disc ourse analysis. The participants were two Iranian male and four female who were Japanese, Mexican, Russian and Taiwanese. Each participant was paired with a friend coming from different language backgrounds so that English was th e common language duri ng the interaction. The participants’ language pr oficiency levels were elem entary, intermediate and advanced. The participants were left alone for fifteen minutes with each other and the data was both audio and video taped. The findi ngs indicate that repa ir is a process of negotiation, involving speakers c onferring with each other to achieve understanding. The repairs included self-initiated repair resulti ng in selfand other-repair, and other-initiated repair followed by selfand other-repair. Th e negotiations in the conversations between second language learners of English included both verbal and extra linguistic processes. Especially during other-repair, in their convers ations with each other, the teaching nature of repair work was evidently suggesting th at second language lear ners can learn more

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25 from one another. Moreover, repair work is a necessary part of conversation, and can even serve as a “vehicle of language soci alization” (Schegloff, Jefforson and Sacks, 1977, p.33). Even the students in the most elem entary level of language proficiency were able to deal with trouble s ources and problems in understand ing in their conversations by negotiating with each other to come to an ag reement of meaning. Further research instead of pair interaction can focus on small groups with culturally more diverse participants. Talking related to reading Reading and writing are higher-order me ntal processes (Kong & Pearson, 2003) and acquired through interacti on with more knowledgeable others in the enactment of cultural practices (Brock & Gavelek, 1998; Gee, 1992; Vygotsky, 1978). Therefore, students are knowledgeable beings with th eir own theories of world (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Smith, 1975), not empty vesse ls waiting to be filled with knowledge (Kong & Pearson, 2003). As learners constr uct meaning through collaborating with others, the meaning has both a cultural and social face (Kong & Pearson, 2003). The cultural face refers to the dispositions a nd experiences learners bring to the reading process and the social face refers to “give-a nd-take” of classroom ta lk about text (Kong & Pearson, 2003 p.90). Hence, due to the dialogi c and interactive nature of learning and meaning making, the participat ion is both the goal and the means of learning (Dewey, 1916; Lave & Weigner, 1991; Rogoff et al., 1996). As literacy is inseparable from the cultura l and social context in which it occurs, sociocultural and sociolinguist ic orientations are also pe rtinent (Bloome & Bailey, 1992; Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Rogoff, 1990). In other words, as “interpretive communities” of students and teachers interact, alternate interpretations and divergent views may be forwarded that have also an impact on a person’s interpretation (Fish,

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26 1980). Thus, the interactions, among group memb ers involve a reciprocity in which the actions and reactions of individuals are infl uenced by one another as they interpret the text (Gall & Gall, 1976). These interactions of individuals within a social environment are referred to as “events”. Meaning is then viewed as being located within the event rather than in an individual’s mind (Gee, 1992; Heap, 1992). Thus, literacy is viewed as primarily social endeavor (Bloome, 1985; Bloome &Green, 1992), and discussion is viewed as primarily component of the literacy process. More specifically, from a literary st andpoint, meaning is derived from the transaction that occurs between the reader, the text, and th e context of the literary act (Bleich, 1978; Iser, 1980; Ro senblatt, 1938/1976, 1978). Thus, th e interpretation of the reader are not static but continually sh aped by transaction be tween the reader’s experiences and the new information acquired from the text. Under such circumstances the reader’s interpretation constantly evolves and the interpretation that each person brings to a discussion may ultimately be transformed and shaped by the thoughts and ideas of other group members. Student-to-stude nt conversations help to identify and clarify interpretations of informational text s and that discussions serve to enrich and refine our understanding. Fi ndings of studies (Almasi and Gambrell, 1994; Gambrell &Almasi, 1996; McMahon, 1992) support a social co nstructivist theory of reading that posits that literacy is a social act (Beach, 1994). As readers engage in sharing responses to informational texts in a social context, they construct new meaning as a result of interaction with others in th e classroom community. The soci al constructivist view of reading is supported by a number of educatio nal theorists who contend that there are important linkages between social intera ction and improved reading comprehension

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27 (Gavelek, 1986; Short &Pierce, 1990). Furthermore, the soci al constructivist perspective is consistent with Vygotksy’s (1962, 1978) work which presents language as both a communicative tool and a means by which human s develop intellectually. While a social constructivist theory is readily acknowledged with regard to narrative text, it is equally important to informational texts. Opportunitie s to discuss informational texts within a social context are one way that students can begin to develop higher order language expression and knowledge of content materi al besides multi-layered interpretations (Vygotsky, 1978; Barnes, Britton & Torbe, 1990; Edwards &Westgate, 1994; Marshall, Smagorinsky & Smith, 1994). As students participate in discussions of text, there are many opportunities for cognitive, social, emotional and affectiv e growth (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). When classroom cultures allow opportuni ties for authentic discussions, students’ perceptions of the literary process, as well as their literary competence, are affected in ways that reflect that culture. (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). In the past, typica l classroom discussions relied heavily on the public communications or reci tation models of inte raction, with the teacher as the transmitter of information. Teachers talked and asked questions and students listened and answer ed teacher-posed questions (White,1990). This type of teacher-centered instruction provides students with few opportunities to enter into the dialogue of learning. The teacher controls th e timing, the structure, and the content of classroom talk, allowing students limited opport unities to develop what Rubin (1990) has referred to as a “response-abili ty” (p.28). If students are to develop critical and creative thinking skills, they must have opportunities to respond to text. The ability to respond to text, or response-ability, is socially me diated and is learned through a process of

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28 socialization in the literacy community. Thus response-ability is nurtured when students have opportunities to negotiate meaning w ith text and with other members of the interpretive community. By its very nature, re sponse-ability requires social interactions centered around text. In many ways, res ponse-ability reflects Vygotskian (1978) perspective that the ways in which we think are learned through our social interactions. According to Straw and Bogdan (1993), this perspective “argues for socially based classrooms, classrooms that lead students to the negotiations that are the heart of meaning making in the act of reading” (p.4). The r eanalysis of the National Assessment of Educational Progress database f ound that social interaction wa s positively associated with reading activity (Guthrie, Scha fer, Wang, & Afflerbach, 1995). In particular, students of all ages who talked with their friends and parents about what they read were more active readers than students who engaged in less disc ourse about their literate behaviors. This information is consistent with the findings of Morrow and Weinstein (1986) who reported that scope of reading increased when student s and teachers particip ated in discussions and debate about the ideas pr esent in the text they rea d. These findings suggest that students who talk about what they read ar e more likely to engage in reading. When students have the opportunity to discuss what they read they are also more likely to respond aesthetically by sharing their thoughts an d emotions about the text they read it (Many &Wiseman, 1992). Besides cognitive, social and emotional gr owth, talking helps to increase reading comprehension, vocabulary development and au tonomy of learners. Discussing a reading text with a peer in creases reading compre hension (RodriguezGarcia, 2001). While reading a print newspaper ( Times ), Rodriguez-Garcia ( 2001) compared the three

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29 conditions of meaning making, unmodified r eading text with no peer interaction (authentic news article without any peer), m odified reading text w ith no peer interaction (elaborative version of nativ e like baseline news article), and unmodified reading text with peer interaction (RodriguezGarcia, 2001), indicate that comp rehension was highest among the peer interaction. Th eir performance was reported as significantly different from those who read the same text but wit hout interaction. Peer in teraction group is not significantly different from those who read m odified version of the reading text. The findings of this study provide a strong evidence th at for students of at least intermediate levels of language proficie ncy interacting with their pe ers over the content of an unmodified (authentic) text effectively aids when they have a speci fic task to perform. In another study on reading comprehensi on Yano, Long, and Ross (1994) explored the relationship between L2 reading and ne gotiation studies addr essing the effect on comprehension of modifying a text along the lines of interactional adjustments native speakers make in face-to-face conversation. They found that such modifications results in elaboration of texts because of “maintaini ng much of the original…complexity in both lexis and syntax, but compensa ting by clarifying message c ontent and structure… and by adding redundancy” (p.193). This elaborative modification was found to be as effective as simplification for making texts understandable, in spite of the greater complexity of the modified text. Yano et al., argue, like Le ow (1993), that simplification may actually work against language acquisition while “elabo ration appears to serv e the twin functions of most foreign land second language readi ng lessons: (a) improving comprehension and (b) providing learners with the rich linguistic forms they need for further language learning” (p.214)

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30 Besides helping students to apply comp rehension strategies and co-construct knowledge while reading, peer-p eer dialogue also helps voca bulary gain. After reviewing a number of research studies, Ruddell (1994) concluded: “The eviden ce we have so far suggests that positive effects results from social interaction during word learning” (p.436). Klingner and Vaughn (2000) investig ated how a group of Spanish-English bilingual elementary school students co llaborated to build their own reading comprehension and that of their limited English Proficient (LEP) peers. Through a classroom technique known as collaborative strategic reading (CSR) 37 participants in the study were taught four read ings strategies to aid thei r reading comprehension of a context-based text. The text was in English but students discussed the content of the text in both English and Spanish. Qualitative analys is of the students’ di scourse showed that through interacting in th eir CSR groups, the fifth grade stud ents assisted one another in vocabulary comprehension, finding the main idea and asking and answering questions about their text. Klingner and Vaughn reported that in each of the six cooperative learning groups, the students taught concepts a nd vocabulary to their peers. In some cases bilingual students provided tr anslations for the LEP students. The authors concluded that in their peer groups, the students provided s caffolding for each other and that even the higher achieving students benefited from th e group interaction. A ccording to Klingner and Vaughn (2000), for scaffolding to occur, th e important factor is not expertise but rather whether students are instructed in how to provide assistance to their peers, as they had been in this study. Preand Posttest measures of vocabular y indicated that the students made gains in their language lear ning. While the LEP students appeared to demonstrate little improvement as measured in th e tests, they were ab le to provide closer

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31 approximations to the correct an swers than they had in the pretests. However, due to the scoring criteria used, these gains were not qualified. Thirdly, discussion provides more aut onomy to language learners. Within classroom discussion, the responsibility for learning is transferred from teacher to students. In such an environment students come to believe that they can control their own learning as they learn how to interact with one another (Alverma nn, O’Brien, &Dillon, 1990; O’Flahavan, 1989; Slavin, 1990). Thus, stud ents involved in discussions not only learn how to interact socially and develop communicative competence, but they learn to take responsibility for their own learning. When students shar e their thoughts with others their thoughts become an object that can be reflected upon. By sharing, these thoughts are made available to all group members for in spection and provide an opportunity to expand a student’s limited perceptions. Thus, student interaction in discussions may be an important factor in promoting the ability to think critically and to consider multiple perspectives (Prawat, 1989) and in developi ng the ability to confir m, extend, and modify their individual interpretations of text (Eeds & Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992). Students also benefit from discussions because they ofte n make discoveries about themselves as individuals and as learners (Gambrell &A lmasi, 1996). Their responses reflect their beliefs and attitudes as well as their l earning strategies. When students are given autonomy to explore their own topics for disc ussions of literature, the quality of their discourse is enhanced. Students who participate in discussions of text not only engage in more dialogue about text, but also in quality of their discourse is more complex than the dialogue of students who participate in more traditional teacher-led recitations (Almasi, 1995; Almasi & Gambrell, 1994; Eeds &W ells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Sweigart, 1991).

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32 Additionally, when teachers provided greater opportunities for students to share their opinions about a text, the types of responses that students share broaden (Martinez, Roser, Hoffman, & Battle, 1992) and reflect thei r personal reactions to the text (McGee, 1992). ESL reading instruction through memorizati on has tend to focus on linguistic forms such as word recognition, pattern drills and or al reading instead of constructing meaning through complex thinking and critical res ponse (Au & Raphael, 2000; Fitzgerald, 1995; Valdes, 1998). Through creating time and opport unity for diverse learners to construct textual meaning both individually and co llaboratively through reading, writing and discussing in which students can actively produce language and develop more complex linguistic tools for communicating with each other are important for ESL learners’ language development (Anderson & Roit, 1996; Garcia, 1993; Gersten, 1996; Kong & Pearson, 2003). Reading activities could provide data bot h on the processes involved and on the language development that results (G rallet, 1981; Nuttall, 1982; Silberstein,1994) where such suggestions involve group work, as they often do, the study of the interaction that takes place between the group members in th ese encounters is likely to be a fruitful field for research in a joint of second langua ge acquisition and L2 r eading text (Devitt, 1997). Furthermore, much work has been done on the nature of f ace-to-face interactions between native and nonnative speakers (Devi tt, 1997) and how children with limited literacy and linguistic ability be gin to read and learn the L2 at the same time, through a process of writing their own stories (Zamel, 1992; Edelsky, 1982; Hudelson, 1984). Therefore, further research can focus on the nature of interactions occurring as nonnative adult readers create meaning from text and revising their writing (their summary of a

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33 text) to enhance reading comprehension furt her in a small group of other nonnative adult speakers. Currently, there is a resurgen ce of interest in small gr oup discussions, particularly as it relates to reading comprehension and learning from text (Barton,1995; Commeyras, 1994; Villaume &Hopkins, 1995; Villa ume, Worden, Williams, Hopkins, &Rosenblatt,1994; Wiencek &O’Flahavan, 1994). When students engage in small group discussions they have more opportunities to speak, interact, inte rpret, clarify, and exchange points of view than are afforded in other talk structures (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). In particular the research on collabora tive learning has enc ouraged teachers to provide more opportunities for students to wo rk and interact in small groups (Slavin, 1989; 1990). Talking related to writing Several studies underline the importance of the link between talk and writing (Zoellner, 1969; Kennedy, 1983; Hillocks, 1986). Britton (1975) states “the relationship of talk to writing is central to the writing process” (p.30). Th erefore, writin g, reading and classroom talk are vehicles of active inquiry rather than recitation and review: “talking and writing to learn” (Britton, 1969;Britt on, Burgess, Martin, McLeod, & Rosen, 1975; Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991). Writing of various kinds such as paraphrasing, outlining and summarizing, has been found to produce bett er comprehension and retention (Glover, Plake, Roberst, Zimmer & Palmere, 1981; Bretzing, Kulhavey, 1979; Kulhavy, Dyer & Silver, 1975; Taylor & Berkowitz, 1980; Tayl or & Beach, 1984). Here, the literature review includes the role of talking before writing and afte r writing as revision focusing on peer feedback in terms of the nature and impact of peer mediation, value of peerresponse groups, comparing individual work to collaborative work and peer feedback to

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34 teacher feedback, training to give feedback, and the impact of all these interactions on students’ language learning. Talking in small groups before writing pr ovides clarification of complex topics. Sweigart (1991) study comparing three treatm ents of lecture, class discussion and student-led in small groups of fifty eight co llege preparatory twelft h grade students about the effectiveness of expository talk and wr iting found that the small group discussion was significantly more effective in improving the students’ knowle dge as they prepared to write. According to Sweigart (1991) the ta lk in student groups provided help to understanding of complex topics and help to writing about these idea s in the environment in which students see each other as collabo rators “jointly constructing meaning rather than as competitors whose primary goal is gaining the teacher ’s approval” (p.493). On collaborative peer revision of writing as apart of a se ries of studies with adult learners of Spanish as a L2 (de Guerrero & Villamil, 1994, 2000; Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996, 1998), Villamil & de Guerrero (1998) asse ssed the nature and impact of peer mediation on writers’ final version of two type s of rhetorical modes of writing: narration and persuasion. Analysis of the audio taped pair interactions showed that the majority of the revisions (74%) worked on during peer-rev ision sessions were incorporated into the final drafts of the writer. When revising th e narrative mode, the students paid almost equal attention to grammar and content (31% and 27 & of the total revisions, respectively), when was revision the persua sive mode, the greatest percentage of revisions (38%) were focused on gramma r. Moreover, assistance through dialogue prompted further revisions a nd self-revisions after the se ssions, indicating that peer learning was conductive to se lf-regulated behavior.

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35 Additionally, De Guerrero and Villamil (2000) adopted a microgenetic approach to analyze 16 episodes of interaction between a “reader” and a ”write r” of their previous data set on peer revision. The students who was “the reader” pr ovided other-regulation by instructing or giving mini-l essons, which is a type of scaffolding mechanism by which students exteriorize their e xpertise and offer each other knowledge about language. The writer incorporated that major ity of the changes discussed wi th his partner and, in some cases, further revised on his own. The reader al so made progress in aspects of L2 writing and revising as well as in being able to provi de peer assistance. As the researchers noted, the opportunity to talk and discuss language and writing issues with each other “allowed both reader and writer to cons olidate and reorganize knowledg e of the second language in structural and rhetorical as pects and to make this knowle dge explicit for each other’s benefit” (2000, p. 65). Within peer revisions the value of pee r-response has also been investigated. For example, Tang and Tithecott’s (1999) study in a university college level ESL writing indicates that students tended to be positive a bout peer feedback but had some concerns (i.e.,, they did not feel comf ortable or know how to cri ticize somebody else’s work). However, many students improved while particip ating in the sessions because they were engaged in socio-cognitive activities that enab led them to become aware of deficiencies in their texts and, in turn, to make revisi ons. Both less and more proficient students benefited from the peer response sessions and increased their language awareness and self-confidence. Concerning the collaborative performance of ESL learners with intermediate and advanced proficiency level, Storch (1999, 2000, 2001a, 2001b) compared individual

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36 work to collaborative work and studied the nature of peer assistance and its impact on students’ language learning. Storch (1999) found that colla boration and the metatalk generated a positive effect on overall grammatical accuracy when students completed a series of grammar-focused exer cises (a clozeexercise, a te xt reconstruction, and a short composition). There were two isomorphic versions to these exercises (i.e., they featured in the same theme, the same genre and were the same length and had approximately the same number of similar grammatical items to attend to). The first version was completed individually and the other version was done in pairs (or small groups). In the cloze exercise, accuracy improved in verb tens e/aspect choice (up from 58 % to 78%) and particularly in morphology (up from 35 % to 84 %). In the text reconstruction exercise, a greater proportion items were detected and corrected amended when working collaboratively than when working individua lly (72 % vs. 63%) and fewer were left undetected (10% vs. 17%). With regard to th e composition, those written in collaboration with peers demonstrated a lower average num ber of errors than compositions written individually (7.75% vs. 13.6) and a greater proportion of error-free clauses (61 % vs. 47 %). Storch indicated that pairs spent more time on task as they discussed the changes, which clearly resulted in mo re accurate performance. Also, Storch (2000, 2001a, 2001b) noted that th e nature of peer assistance is an important factor to consider in terms of the impact that collaborative work can have on learning. Detailed analyses distinguished two dimensions of dyadic in teractions: equality (i.e., authority over the task) and mutuality (i .e., level of engagement with each other’s contribution). From these, Storch (2000, 200b) derived four distinct patterns. In the collaborative pattern, both stude nts contribute to the task, as sisting each other (i.e., the

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37 expert role is fluid) and r eaching co-constructed solutions acceptable to both of them. The dominant/ dominant pattern is one in which, though both studen ts contribute to the task and thus the expert role is al so fluid, assistance is often reje cted as it is an attempt to control and dominate both stude nts. In the case of the domin ant/ passive pair there is one dominant student who appropriates the task and who directs his/he r partner and allows little or no contribution. The f ourth pattern, expert/novice, de scribes the interaction that takes place when assistance is provided predominantly by one of the participants (expert), which is generally accepted by the novice. Like the dominant/passive pattern, one participant seems to be more in control of the task but unlike the dominant/passive scenario, the expert participant acknowle dges the novice and encourages participation. Analysis which linked interactions to eviden ce of language development in the students’ writing showed that in collaboration and e xpert/novice dyads there were more instances suggesting evidence of transfer of knowle dge (22 and 15 respectively) than in dominant/dominant or dominant/passive pairs (six in each). Furthermore, these latter pairs produced a larger number of instances showing either no transfer or lost opportunities (due lack to involvement or challenge) than the former pairs (Storch, 2000). Adopting a collaborative orientation resu lted in evidence of co-construction, more LREs, extension of knowledge, provision of scaffolding assistance, and language development (grammatical accuracy and new lexical knowledge). Similarly, DiCamilla and Anton’s (1997) anal yses of the discourse of five dyads of Spanish L2 learners collaborating on a writing assignment emphasized the importance of co-constructed scaffolded support and gui dance through peer dialogue. In particular, they pointed out how repetition allowed stude nts to recognize features of the language

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38 and to provide the necessary mediation to solv e certain problems (of lexis, spelling, verb form, etc). Repetition was also used to appr opriate the new forms and/or to help peers with the mastery of provided forms. With regard to comparison of peer fee dback to teacher feedback, Paulus (1999) analyzed the audiotaped interactions of el even ESL students who participated in peer review sessions to give each other feedback on their writi ng. She compared the students’ revisions to three drafts of a persuasive essay and compared them to modifications resulting from teacher feedback. The results sh owed that students used both the peer and teacher feedback to revise their drafts. Fourt een percent of total revisions were made as a result of the peer feedback. The majority of the revisions (52 %) we re influenced neither by the peer nor the teacher feedback but by some other unknown source, including the self. Nevertheless, peer and t eacher feedback accounted for more meaning-level revisions than those resulting from the other sources. Notably, 32% of the changes made to the second draft of the essay, written immediat ely after the peer revision session, were a result of peer feedback. Furthermore, the ma jority of these changes (63 %) were meaning changes, which points to the fact, as Paulus noted, that “not only do students take their classmates’ advice seriously, but they also use it to make meaning –level changes to their writing” (p.281). That is, students find their p eers’ advice useful. However, the overall result of Paulus’ study indicated that teacher feedback was used more often than peer feedback (see Nelso & Carson, 1998; Tsui &N g, 2000) indicating a possible need to help and train students in how to provide peer feedback. Concerning giving intensive training to language learners to enable them to participate fully in the process of collabor ation as suggested by Ta ng and Titecott (1999)

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39 and Paulus (1999), Berg (1999) compared the performance of two cl asses in a universitybased Intensive English Program that were tr ained in how to provide peer response (the treatment group) to two classe s in the same program that received no such training. No difference between the pretreatment writi ng had been found between two groups. The training provided students with the language and rationale for using peer response in the classroom. Trained peer response then result ed in a significantly greater number of meaning changes in the revised drafts as well as in significantl y higher writing scores. Berg (1999) noted that peer response can te ach students about academic writing because, in discussing each other’s essays, they ha ve to apply knowledge about their thesis statements, the development of ideas and the ty pes of text organization. Furthermore, this discussion of ideas (content) and language can help students “discover” viable text alternatives to unclear aspects of their writing (Berg, 1999, p. 232) Much work has been done about the talk between a teacher and student (one to one) while revising the writing contributing to the language learning as co-constructed development in situated discursive practi ces (Young &Miller, 2004); and peer revisions (de Guerrero & Villamil, 1994, 2000; Villam il & de Guerrero, 1996, 1998; Paulus,1999; Storch, 2000, 2001a, 2001b; Tang and Tithecott, 1999). Also as a grade level, several studies were done about talki ng and writing in elementary, secondary and middle school level students (see Dyson, 1993; Gambrell &Almasi, 1996; Farnan &Dahl, 2003). However, there is limited study focusing on adul t, college level English language learners coming from different cultural backgrounds while reading and revising their writing as a group. Additionally, the studies pres ented in this literature revi ew indicate that there is not enough study examining the role of intera ction combining both reading and writing

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40 skills within their disc ourse through social constructionist theoretical framework in which participants belonging to different cultural backgrounds make meaning. Group Dynamics in Nonnative SpeakerNonnative Speaker(s) Talk Speakers' language proficiency level Speakers’ language proficiency level influe nces their participations to the small group interactions in terms of how and how much they contribute. Ohta (2001) investigated how social intera ctions during interactive language learning tasks constitute learning. Working within a socio-cognitive framework, over an academic year, Ohta (2001) examined how peers of Japanese st udents learning worki ng at their ZPD can assists each other’s performance in the classroom and thereby promote language development through scaffolding. Her findings supporting the previ ous findings (e.g., Kowal &Swain, 1997) indicate that even less proficient peers ar e able to provide assistance to more proficie nt peers and through dialogue learners can construct utterances that are beyond what each c ould produce individually. Ohta’s analysis revealed that the assisted performance comes in the forms of peers’ waiting for each other to finish their utterances, promoting or through co-constructions. Peers also provided assistance in the form of recasts which are inco rporated in later utterances. Not all of the peer interactions was error-f ree, but Ohta found, contrary to previous study by Mackey, McDonough and Kim (1999) that incorporation ra tes of incorrect utte rances were very low. According to Ohta (2001), the benefits of peer interaction ove rweight any negative effects, as through scaffolding, learners bu ild “bridges to proficiency” (2001,p.125). This scaffolding, together with the internalizati on of the language learni ng occurring in social interaction, supports L2 development.

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41 Another study on learners’ language proficie ncy level and their contribution to peer and small group interactions was investigat ed by Swain and Lampkin (1995). According to their study, the higher ESL proficiency stude nts are twice as likely to rely on applying a grammatical rule (48 per cen t) than on what sounds right (24 per cent); whereas the lower-proficiency students are a bout equally as likely to rely on either (18 per cent vs. 15 per cent) to solve thei r linguistic difficulty. Swain and La mpkin (1995) state that in the grammatical analysis, there are important differences between higher-and lowerproficiency learners. The studies show that language proficie ncy level in a small group or pairs might influence participants’ contribu tion to construction of meaning making and interaction with each other duri ng the collaborative learning. W ithin their discourse, these contributions and interactions should be investigated. Speakers' cultural discourses Besides language proficiency level, speak ers’ culture might also influence their contribution to the interactions in small gr oups. Linguistically, people appear to be more polite than others; in that, pe ople who grown up in these differe nt cultures might prefer to give and take feedback differently (Cohe n & Olshtain, 1981; Ol shtain & Cohen, 1983; Fraser, 1981; Olshtain, 1983; Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984; Olshtain & Cohen, 1989). Therefore, if a person with a positive fee dback background works with a partner who is coming from a negative feedback background, there might be some problems not only in negotiation pattern, but also in the output (Cohen & Olshtain, 1981; Olshtain & Cohen, 1983). Sato's (1990) study on ethnic styles in English language learning classroom discourse provided explorator y results on the relationship between ethnicity and the distribution of verbal intera ction in the classroom. Sa to (1990) found a relationship

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42 between ethnicity and the number of speaking turns taken by ESL students. That is, the Asian students in her study took considerably fewer speaking turns with their teachers than the non-Asian students. Moreover, the As ian learners self-selected less often than the non-Asian learners and their teachers were also called upon them less often. It is interesting that the Asian American a nd Caucasian American teachers behaved no differently towards the students. The Asian American teacher called less often on the Asian students than the non-Asian students desp ite any ethnic ties she may have had with them. According to Glew (1998), there may be se veral reasons for Sato’s (1990) findings. Firstly, the Asian students may be restricted in their “turn-taking behaviors because they adhere to an interpretation of the student-teacher rela tionship which pre-allocates speaking rights in the classroom to the teach er” (p. 91). Secondly, such student-teacher perceptions may create a spiral effect in th e classroom, whereby the teacher calls on the Asian students less than the non-Asian student because she perceives unwillingness among the Asian students to talk (Sato, 1990). As a result, the outcome of these two phenomena is that the ESL students who are unwilling to initiate discussion and rely on the teacher to allocate speak ing opportunities end up completely losing those interaction opportunities (Glew, 1998). Indeed, “the role of interethnic differe nces...and interaction with native speakers remains an issue of fundamental importance” (Sato, 1990, p.117). Therefore, according to Glew (1998) furthe r investigation is called for to not only go beyond the Asian-non-Asian dichotomy and identify potential differences among those within the ethnic groups represen ted in classes but also iden tify in detail the types of verbal interaction in which ES L students and their teachers pa rticipate in the classroom.

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43 Additionally, this further research might examine these differences through studentstudent interactions within a small group of nonnative speakers coming from different cultural backgrounds. This further research mi ght enhance the findings related to Asian students. This research seeks to the meaning ma king process of adult English language learners from different cultural backgrounds during reading and writing discussions. Much has been written about ta lking and reading and talking and writing interactions and benefits of talk to have a better understandi ng of reading texts a nd having better writing skills having before and after ta lking process with pairs. Also, much work has been done on the nature of face-to-face interactions between native and nonnative speakers. What has not been described is the social discour se interaction of nonna tive-nonnative speakers with different cultural backgrounds inter acting with each other in small groups to accomplish the combined reading and writing ta sks in English. How those learners make meaning of text through inte ractive language learning and how those learners’ prior experiences including their culture infl uence their meaning making need further investigation.

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44 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Theoretical Orientation The theoretical orientation of this study is social cons tructionism, which is based on Constructionism as an epistemology. Even though “constructionism” in some sources refers to “social constructionism”, in this study both of them will be used separately: While Constructionism refers to epistemol ogy, social constructioni sm and constructivism refer to two theoretical perspectives w ithin the Constructio nist epistemology. Epistemological background of social c onstructionism is Constructionism and it can be defined that “all knowledge, and ther efore all meaningful reality as such, is contingent upon human practices being constructed in and out of interaction between human beings and their world, and developed an d transmitted within an essentially social context” (Crotty, 1998 p.42). That is, according to Constructionism, meaning is constructed by human beings when they engage with the world that they are interpreting, it is not discovered (Crotty, 1998). Social constructionism is one of two th eoretical schools of Constructionism. The other one is constructivism. Constructivist perspective “emphasizes the instrumental and practical function of theory constructi on and knowing” (Schwandt, 1994 p.125). For that reason, constructivism is used for an indivi dualistic understanding of the construction. However, social constructionism is used fo r socially impacted construction; in other words, it refers to “the collective genera tion [and transmission] of meaning” (Crotty,

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45 1998). Also, language component of social c onstructionism is a differentiating factor (Gergen & Gergen, 1991): From social constructionist perspective, it is not the cognitive processing of the single observer that absorbs the object into itself, but it is language that does so. Accounts of the world (in science and elsewh ere) take place within shared systems of intelligibility — usually a spoken or written language. These accounts are not viewed as the external expression of th e speaker’s internal processes (such as cognition, intention), but as an expressi on of relationships among persons. From this viewpoint, it is within social interaction that language is generated, sustained, and abandoned. . The emphasis is thus not on the individual mind but on the meanings generated by people as they co llectively generate descriptions and explanations in language (p. 78). ‘Social constructionism’ te rm derives from the works of Karl Mannheim (18931947) and from Berger and Luckmann’s (1967) The Social Construction of Reality but actually the idea went back to radical critics Hegel a nd Marx (Crotty, 1998). Through Marx’s economic ideas stating that social being determines consciousness; in other words, “who own the means of production in a ny society have the power to affect the kind of consciousness that obtains in that so ciety” (Crotty, 1998) so cial constructionism started to being shaped. During its devel opment process, soci al constructionism collaborated with different theoretical perspectives, such as phenomenology, existentialism, symbolic interactionism (Mead, 1964). Berger & Luckmann, (1967) transferred social constructionism from soci al psychology to sociol ogy to develop a type of “social psychology” defining the assumptions of social constructionism. Therefore, it is possible to see different ki nds of social constructionism within different fields and collaborated with different theoretical perspectives. In this present study social constructionism refers to the social constructionism elaborated by Kenneth J. Gergen (19 85). According to Gergen (1985), social constructionism is a movement toward re defining psychological constructs such as

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46 ‘mind’, ‘self’ and ‘emotion’ as socially cons tructed processes, to be ‘removed from the head and placed within the realm of soci al discourse’ (p. 271 ). Moreover, objective reality is in fact the prod uct of social construction pr ocesses under the influence of cultural, historical, political, and economic conditions. As knowledge is socially constructed, not only knowledge can vary historically over ti me and differ across cultural groups that hold diverse beliefs about human de velopment and nature, but also the social construction of knowledge varies. The reason for applying Gergen’s social c onstructionism in this present study is due to two reasons: Firstly, Gergen is a so cial psychologist, who elaborated social psychologist Mead’s symbolic interactionist social constructioni sm (1934) combining with Berger and Luckmann’s (1967) so ciological psychology based social constructionism. Hence, Gergen’s perspectiv e of social constructionism is more up-todate and it enables studying language to id entify knowledge embedded with ideological, political and permeated with values (Rouse, 1996). Secondly, Gergen is one of the strong (radical) social constructionist argues that language is embe dded in social practices or forms of life, which limit or close that fo rm of life to others (Giddens, 1993; Payne, 1997). In other words, “ the world … is constitu ted in one way or another as people talk it, write it and argue it” (Potter, 1996, p.98); and “it is human interchange that gives language its capacity to mean, and it must stand as the critical locus of concern” (Gergen, 1994a, p. 263). Launching on the idea that acce ss to knowledge is based on language and social interactions, social constructionism in this present study can shed a light into the meaning making discourses of English langua ge learners who are coming from different

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47 cultural backgrounds through analyz ing the language they use while they are constructing meaning of a reading text and American culture. Social constructionism in this present st udy serves as a theoretical perspective, which shapes mid-level and micro-level theori es in literature revi ew section, research questions, design of the study, interview questions researcher’s role and interpretation of the data. For example, research purposes and questions of the present study are related to participants’ collaboration, social inter action, constructing of meaning, and each of participants contribution to this process. He nce, through the process social constructionist theory, as a theoretical perspective, guides the study to conceptualize the truth and knowledge. Purpose of The Study and Research Questions Purpose of the study and research questions are shaped by social constructionism as a theoretical perspective, which indicates that as human beings we are born into a world of meaning; we enter a social milieu in whic h a ‘system of intelligibility’ prevails; we inherit a ‘system of significan t symbols’; and for each of us, when we first see the world in meaningful fashion, we are inevitably viewing it through lenses bestowed upon us by our culture (Crotty, 1998). Our culture brings things into view for us and endows them with meaning and, by the same token, leads us to ignore other things. It is not only our thoughts, but also our emotions are constr ucted for us (Harre, 1986). Besides being shaped by the culture that we are born into, we also shape the culture as members: “society is actively and creatively produ ced by human beings, social worlds being ‘interpretive nets woven by i ndividuals and groups’” (Marsh all, 1994 p. 484). Therefore, in social constructionism, culture should be considered as the source rather than the result of human thought and behavior (Crotty, 1998) and language “r ather than reflecting the

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48 world, it generates it” (Witkin 1999, p. 5); langua ge coordinates and regulates social life (Gergen, 1994). Through social constructionism as a theore tical perspective that gives importance to culture, language and interaction, this qualitative study aims to investigate the interactions of adult, advanced-level Eng lish-language learners who are coming from different cultural backgrounds, and their meaning making process during reading and writing activities. Based on this research purpos e, the following research questions will guide the study: 1. How do English language learners’ lingui stic knowledge of L1 and English influence discussions? 2. How do students’ language and cultural experiences infl uence their interactions during discussions? 3. How does interactive language lear ning interfere language learning? Subjectivity Statement This subjectivity statement expresses my subjective position that results from a previous observation of the teacher that I wo rk with for this present study. The statement also includes my previous experiences. I have both worked with Asian students, and had experiences of my own as a student w ho has attended group work activities during different periods of my education life. Furthe rmore, my career as an educator and views of teaching also influence this research. First, my previous observation of the teacher that has participat ed in this present study indicated that this advance level re ading and writing class was based on mostly teacher-talk rather than st udent-talk. During the Fall 2003 semester, I visited this teacher’s class to conduct an observation a ssignment for my course work. During this two-hour class observation, I rea lized that the course was based on teacher lecture and

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49 students participated in the class only to as k for unknown words in the reading text and to answer the questions. There was not any group work, which might influence this study in a negative way. Even though my participants were different from those I initially observed, the teacher’s style of teaching is the same and the students might have difficulty adapting to the group work a nd discussions in this present study. Secondly, my previous experiences, such as working with Asian students and being a former student who participated in group wo rk activities at different periods of my education life, and my view of being a teacher might influence this present study. Working with Asian students (South Korean a nd Taiwanese) made me realize that when they are silent, it does not mean that they are not thinking or they do not understand what one said. Typically, also, they do not give any paralinguistic cues to the listener such as nodding or saying “hhmm.” During the pilot study, there were some instances where I was repeating or modifying what I said, but some of the participants interrupted me saying, “I am thinking.” This suggests I inte rrupted their thinking process, which made me realize that while working with Asian students I had to be patient before making elaborations. Furthermore, the course work that I took during my education at the University of Florida and in other schools made me aware of the importance of group work. However, I must admit that at some point I had difficulty to adapting to this activity format as a foreign language speaker of English. I had di fficulty finding the right time to enter into conversations and to understand when the othe r speakers have finished. The reason for is that my educational experiences as an Englis h language learner in Turkey did not include

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50 enough group work activities. The curriculum design and teaching methods were based on mostly a teacher’s lecturing. Lastly, being a teacher myself and my view s of being a teacher might influence this present study. I view the teacher’s role as creating a language environment based on the student-centered rather than teacher-centered approach. As a teacher I would like to let the students find the answers first, rather th an telling the answers. During this process, students might have some difficulties and c onfusion, but I think it is the process of learning. During this present study, the part icipants might look for my guidance and expect to me to tell them the answers. Instead I want them to try to find the answers first, and this practice may cause some frustrations for the participants. However, I think in time they might get used to it. Additionall y, unlike their classroom teacher I am not a native speaker; therefore, I might lack first native speaker proficiency, which affects my teacher authority. If I tell every answer that I know before letting them discuss, this action will clash with my view (student -centeredness) of teaching and learning. The Pilot Study A pilot study was conducted with four participants of th e EFL/ESL students attending to English Language In stitute at the University of Florida (UF) in order to get some insights for this present study. The p ilot study investigat ed the process of collaboration with a partner impactin g on meaning making while reading online newspaper in English. The theoretical orienta tion was social constructionism and the data analysis method was Gee’s ( 1999) discourse analysis. There were totally four participants: 2 male (Jeff and David), 2 female (Young Me and Chris). They were English Language Inst itute (ELI) students at the University of Florida. Three of the partic ipants were South Korean (Jeff, Young Me, and David) and

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51 one participant (Chris) was Taiwanese; all aged in their twenties. All of the participants except Jeff were attending the advanced level at ELI; Jeff was attending the upper intermediate level. All of the participants had been learning English for at least for 8 years and they spent most of this learning proc ess in their native country where English is taught as a foreign language. Data was collected through participant observations, interviews and archival research. During the participant observations, four participants were formed into two groups according to their schedules as Davi d and Chris, and Jeff and Young Me. While they were reading an online newspaper togeth er in a computer lab at UF, they were expected to explain their th inking procedures out-loud to their partner. These reading sessions, participant observation, happened thr ee times lasting from 30 to 60 minutes per session. For reading activity, for the first sess ion the online newspaper was chosen by the researcher ( The New York Times ) but the article was chosen by the participants. In the following sessions, second and third sessions, pa rticipants chose which online newspaper they would like to read from the list of th e online newspaper options. During the first two reading sessions participants read each paragraph and then they discussed. For the last reading section both groups read the whole article first, which was followed by a discussion. These reading sessions and procedures recorded on audiotape and they were transcribed by the researcher. The participants checked all transcripts listening to the audiocassettes for the accuracy. After each reading sessions, the participan ts were interviewed individually for member checking. These interviews were se mi-structured, happened three times, lasting 3060 minutes each. The interviews were al so recorded on audiotape, transcribed by the

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52 researcher and the accuracy was checked by th e participants. In each interview, I asked the same questions to the participants base d on the social constr uctionist theoretical framework. Also, the sequence of the questions was designed from general questions to specific ones following Spradley’s (1970) wo rds grand-tour and mini tour. For the archival research reading materials were re trieved from their original online newspaper links. In order to analyze the interview data, I applied Gee’s discourse data analysis method (1999). The data was divided into m eaning units, including a question asked for meaning making, discussion about it and the e nd of discussion with a conclusion. Then, using data I performed Gee’s six building tasks, which are semiotic building, connection building, political build ing, world building, activ ity building and socioculturally situated identity and relationships. As a last activity, I combined them to show the context that took place. Data representations were utilized in terms of emphasis, pauses, overlaps, and laughter to give the audience some idea about the context in which the meaning making process took place. In order to get an out sider’s view on the sample data analyzed according to Gee (1999), the data should al ways be triangulated by another graduate student. Using the archival data for discourse anal ysis, I compared what each paragraph was about, how they were connected to each othe r and how they were structured (linear or nonlinear format). Linear format included a short introduction, some development sections and a conclusion. However, in ther e were nonlinear elements to the paragraphs that disrupted the linear orga nization; for example, there were several back and forth movements in presenting ideas. In the archival data, I also checked whether there were

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53 any pictures, any font color change, and a ny hyperlinks; I analyzed how these functions operated within the entire discourse. Findings The data analysis through different sources (participant observ ations, interviews, and archival documents) revealed that mean ing-making process was in a nonlinear form, actually in a spinal shape a dding new information to the previous discussion points. Therefore, for reading activities, the read ing instruction sequen ce (first activating background knowledge, second cultivating vocabul ary, and then comprehension) defined by Anderson (1999) and Dixon & Nessel (1992) could be replaced with recursive movements in which the reading instruction f eatures are integrated and developing at the same time, because meaning-making is not a linear path. Additionally, during meaning making processes participants used different strategies, such as guessing from context, using different forms of words, and ac tivating background know ledge (cultural, experiential, and so forth). The partners balanced their relative positions of power in different sections of the meaning making process. The data indicated that both Jeff and David felt themselves less powerful in vocabulary and figurative speech explanations as Chris and Young Me’s language proficiency levels made them a l eader in those cases. However, the roles changed in favor of David and Jeff while explaining background knowledge. Also, during the first interviews David and Jeff were less powerful, through the third interview their power started to increase as they took role of giving background information to their partners. A participant whos e vocabulary proficiency leve l was higher than the other either explained the meaning of the unknown vocabulary or she/he tried to guess from a context. Therefore, the partner with a hi gher vocabulary proficiency level had more

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54 power in this section; the other particip ant balanced this power-struggle through giving background knowledge to the vocabulary proficie nt one. Hence, each participant equally participated to the meaning making processes. However, the power status changed very frequently between the participants during meaning making processes. In terms of motivation, reading with a partner had a positive impact on the participants as it made reading more fun a nd enabled more interactions and discussion, such as guessing meanings of words, getti ng more detailed information from the text, realizing their partners’ differe nt opinions about the same t opic, and receiving corrections from a partner of one’s unders tanding of texts. All the participants believed that reading with a partner made them better able to figure out vocabularies, figurative speech and American culture. They felt more powerful, mo re motivated, and they were better able to enjoy reading together than they did reading alone even though it took more time than reading alone. Implications The pilot study had implications in term s of grouping participan ts and establishing participants’ and researcher’s roles. As a rese archer my role as a participant was neither a teacher nor a controller. However, I had difficu lty in establishing my role as a participant especially in the first meetings in which I was the only one who was asking questions at the end of long silent moments to involve pa rticipants in the conve rsation. Also during interviews, I always asked questions without expressing my own point of view as a participant. This relational au thority might be overcome if I had been involved more as a participant through answering in terview questions as a participant in the same way other participants were expected to participate, and having group interviews instead of individual interviews. In a group, when modi fication of the questions was required other

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55 group members could explain the question. As group interviews might keep the conversation dynamic and self-regulated, other authority-based problems could also be solved. For example, having th ree individual interviews with the same questions tended to cause participants to answer questions in the same way (memorization). In some cases it was difficult to keep participants (i.e., Je ff) on the question. Therefore, I was asking the same questions looking for further explanat ion. However, through group interviews and group observations (instead of pa irs) I could have participated more than simply serving as a regulator. Also, having the participants’ f eedback as a group instead of peer debriefing about the data analysis would have been beneficial as it could give more participants more activ e role in the study. Another implication of the pilo t study is the pairing of the participants. In the pilot study the participants were paired according to their schedule and one pair was comprised of two South Korean participants, which makes unauthentic interaction. Two people shared the same culture and language spoke E nglish while interacti ng each other. In the pilot study this focus was not realized. It was determined that for the present study it might be better if each participant in a group at least belongs to a different country even though the language might be similar; this mi xing would establishing the authenticity in interaction. For further researc h, participants’ interactions sh ould be investigated in small groups instead of pairs. Investigating cultura lly diverse students’ interaction in small groups, researchers’ role as a participant to those inte ractions and participants’ involvement into the data analysis pro cess may provide further information about language learning.

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56 The Setting The advanced reading and writing class of the English Language Institute (ELI) is located at Normal Hall at University of Flor ida in Gainesville, FL. Gainesville, with a population of more than 198,000, is located in the north-central Florida county of Alachua. The University of Florida is one of the preeminent universities in the United States attracting students from all 50 states and from 100 count ries (City of Gainesville, 2006). The University of Florida is a compre hensive university, offering degrees in most known fields of study. The campus extends over 800 hectares. It employs more than 4000 faculty members and trains more than 42,000 st udents at one time. The ELI is a selfsupporting program of the University of Flor ida located on the historic University of Florida campus. The programs are based on n early 50 years of second language teaching experience and research. The core classes include Listening/Sp eaking, Grammar, and Reading/Writing classes. Students are placed into levels for each skill at the beginning of each term according to their proficiency in each skill. The ELI also offers elective courses in TOEFL, Business English, U.S. Culture, Pronunciation, Conversation Strategies, and other special courses that vary by term (ELI, 2005). The primary mission of the intensive English program is to prep are international stude nts for successful study at the graduate or undergraduate level in in stitutions of higher learning in the USA (ELI, 2005). Classes at the ELI are small, averagi ng 12 students, allowing very individualized instruction. Advance reading and writing clas sroom is located on th e third floor of the Norman Hall at the Education bu ilding of University of Flor ida. In a long corridor on the left site all other classrooms are located. A dvance level classroom is located in the middle section. In the classroom, the left side is covered with windows, the right side with dusty bookshelves that are empty. The front of the ro om has a blackboard in front of which is

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57 the teacher’s desk which faces students whose desks form two lines of ‘u’ shape. Above the chalkboard there is clock facing the student s. All chairs are old and made of wood. The floors are covered with bl uish carpet. There are few cultural elements: a world map located behind the students’ sitting places on th e right corner and a picture representing a view from Honduras located in front of windows on the left corner towards the chalkboard. The participants participate in the readi ng discussion sessions from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Mondays at my office located at Norman Hall room number 356, which is very close to the classroom. The interviews also took place in the same place at 11:00 a.m. as it was very quiet and very close to the participants’ cl assroom. From 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. the participants had another sessi on and it was easy for them to come to my office instead of looking for other places for the meeting. On Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. there were writing discussions and writing interviews from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the same place. The feedback session occurred in the same place. The reason for choosing my office for read ing and writing discussions instead of the classroom was that there were two othe r groups guided by the teacher besides the group of participants of this study in the classroom which inte rfered with tape recording during the first week of data collection. Participants Six English Language Institute students atte nding to the advanced level reading and writing class were chosen for this study. Th eir language proficiency has already been already assessed and grouped according to th e ELI Language Proficiency Test, which is applied to all of the students enrolled at the ELI at the beginning of the each academic semester.

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58 They were recruited by a teacher of advan ced reading and writing class at the ELI. As I mentioned before, I have known the teach er from a course that I took during my Ph.D. program (Fall 2002, TSL 6371 Materials a nd Techniques in Teaching English as a Second Language) during which I observed his class. In the first meeting with the teacher, I explained the purpose of this pres ent study to the teacher and he gave me a brief explanation about the participants, such as their nationality a nd their age range. In our second meeting, the teacher rated all the students in the class according to their language proficiency level (considering thei r verbal participati on to the class and grammaticality of the works they submitte d to the teacher) and according to their attendance rate on the class. After eliminating the students who have low attendance rates in the class, first I grouped students according to their home country under the th ree main titles: European, Hispanic and Asian. Second, under these main tit les, I grouped students according to their home country and then according to their ge nder. As there are Hispanic and European female participants, I have decided to incl ude also female participants from Asian cultures. The reason for not choos ing male Asian participants is that there would be only one male participants, which might influence the power balance during the discussions as well reported by Lee (1993). The reason for in cluding their home country is that even though some students share the same or sim ilar native language, their country which is part of their culture can enable them to bring their own culture and discourse into discussions and meaning making process. The participants of this present stud y are Vanessa, Patricia, KyungOk, Masami, Isabel and Gosia, which are all pseudo names. Through the study the terms, Asian,

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59 European and Hispanic refer to these participants specifically and the terms, Asian culture, European culture and Hispanic cult ure also refer these participants’ cultural background. Table 3-1. Participants Ethnicity Country Name The teacher’s rating (1 is the best, 15 is the worst) Japan Masami 13 Asian Korea KyungOk 10 Poland Gosia 1 European Switzerland Isabel 2 Honduras Vanessa 5 Hispanic Venezuela Patricia 9 Vanessa is 25 year old and she is from H onduras. She has been in the U.S. for five months, and she has been learning English fo r eight years starting from pre-school. Her native language is Spanish and she graduate d from a college with a B.A. degree in Industrial Engineering. She attend ed Catholic school in her c ountry and she is interested in psychology. A relevant interest of hers is watching American movies without any translation, even though most American m ovies in her country are translated. Patricia is an 18 years old from Venezu ela. She graduated from high school and came to the U.S. for language education. She has been in the U.S. for six months. She attended Catholic school in her country. When she returns to her country, she wants to continue her education through attending colleg e. She is interested in fashion design and make-up art but her mother wants her study for a more practical career. Her native language is Spanish and she started learni ng English when she was 11 years old. She stated that she loves English. While she rarely reads any magazines or academic papers in English in Venezuela, at UF not only did sh e frequently reads them but also prefers watching movies in English without any translation.

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60 KyungOk is around 25 years old and she ha s been learning English since high school—for ten years. She majored in English literature and she was attending graduate school for her master degree in her country, Korea. She wants to enroll in an English language teaching program (ESOL/TESOL) to c ontinue her graduate school life in the U.S. Her native language is Korean. She has been in the U.S. for six months. Masami is 22 years old from Japan. Her native language is Japanese and she has been learning English for nine years, si nce she was 12 years old. She has been in Australia for one month and she has been in the U.S. for last eight months. She has graduated from a college in her country. In the U.S. Masami prefers watching movies without any translation while she ne eded translation in her country. Isabel is 19 years old and she just gr aduated from high school. She is from Switzerland and her native langua ge is French. Her mother’s native language is Spanish and her father’s native language is French. Isabel has been learning English for eight years starting from middle sc hool and she has a great intere st in learning languages. Besides French, she also knows German, Spanish and Italian. She has been in the U.S. for eight months and she is staying with her a unts in Gainesville. Besi des attending the ELI, she also takes a piano course. While she rare ly read anything in E nglish in her country, here she frequently reads magazines, a nd academic articles in English and watches movies without any translation. Gosia is 25 years old and she is from Pola nd. Her native language is Polish and she has graduated from a college in Poland with a B.A. degree in Marketing. She has been learning English for two years, starting at coll ege and she has been in the U.S. for seven months. Besides taking classes at ELI, she is also attending marketing and business

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61 courses offered by the University of Florida. While she was frequently watches movies in translation in her country, here she watche s them without any tr anslation. Her current boyfriend is a native speaker of English and she has been speaking with him in English. Unlike other participants, her English skills includes the ability to use colloquial words and phrases from everyday life, such as “come on guys” and “oh man” [Field notes, March 21, 2005]. Data Collection The data collection methods were par ticipant observations, semi-structured interviews, archival data collection and a f eedback session. The reason for using different data collection methods was to triangulate the data in terms of between method triangulation (Denzin, 1970). The participan t observations for both reading and writing discussions provided insights for the participan ts’ interaction process with each other and for the role of participants’ socio-cultural identity for their comprehension and meaning making process. Semi-structured interviews served as a member checking for the participant observations and they also answ ered questions about how students’ meaning making during reading and writing discus sions influence their writing and how interactive language learning in fluence English language learni ng (benefits, difficulties, and so forth). Archival research helped the documentation of products studied (i.e, reading text) and created during this study (i.e., journals, summaries, corrected summaries). It also helped getting more detailed information, doing member check and triangulated the data, such as participant jour nals. As this study is guided by the social constructionist theory, the pa rticipants’ contribution to the research process has been maximized through a feedback session, in which participants analyzed the data with the researcher and provide their f eedback and comment to her.

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62 As the theoretical framework of this pres ent study is social constructionism, as a researcher during the data collection processes I was one of the partic ipants of the group: another language learner coming from diffe rent cultural background, not a teacher. Like other group members, I wrote my own summary of the text and shar e it with the group for corrections and feedback, answering the interview questions, asking the words that I did not know within the reading text, shari ng my knowledge with them and so forth. The total data collection pr ocess took five weeks. The first w eek was the trail activity for the participants, the teacher and me. This trial activ ity could not be includ ed into this present study as the tape record ing quality was very bad and part icipants did not attend to the activity regularly (e.g. they did not come to class regul arly, they did not submit their work on time or at all). Als o, there was miscommunication be tween the participants and me in terms of the directions related to the activities. Therefore, the real data collection started the following week as they have been showed in the Tables below. The reading texts were about various topics. The first re ading is “To spank or not to spank” an article published in Gaines ville Sun on October 16, 2002 and retrieved from the online version of the newspaper on April 15, 2003 by Steve (the teacher) (see Appendix). It is two pages long and the paragr aphs are very short usually two or three lines. The article written in argumentative styl e presents two sides who are in favor and against to spanking. The sec ond reading text is taken from a book written by Luigi Barzani (see Appendix). The tit le of the book is “The Europeans”, which includes seven chapters: The Elusive Europeans, The Impert urbable British, The Mutable Germans, The Quarrelsome French, The Flexible Italia ns, The Careful Dutch, and The Baffling Americans. The taken part is about Ameri cans, last chapter The Baffling Americans

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63 focusing on what makes an American an Americ an. This reading text is one page long including three paragraphs and there is no title on the top of the page. The last reading text is a PDF document taken from the Univers ity of Florida web page and the article is titled “In the classroom, Life experience, UF students learn about life by studying the culture of death” with a pi cture of Susan Bluck who offe rs this course at UF (see Appendix). Written by Staci Zavattaro this one page biography explains what the course is about, what kind of activ ities it includes and students’ opinion about the course. Table 3-2. Week1, Group1: Hispanic & European Participants (Patrici a, Vanessa, Isabel and Gosia) Morning Afternoon Days Participant observation Interview Archival research Monday Reading “To spank or not to spank” Read the text and discuss Group interview about reading discussion Reading text, participants’ reading texts Tuesday Writing summaries in the computer lab during reading and writing class and sending it to group members journal Wednesday Writing discussion The summary of “To spank or not to spank” Read the summaries and discuss Group interview about writing discussion Summaries, corrected summaries by group members Thursday Rewriting summaries in the computer lab during reading and writing class and sending it to group members journal Table 3-3. Week 2, Group 2: Asian & Europ ean Participants (KyungOk, Masami, Isabel and Gosia) Morning Afternoon Days Participant observation Interview Archival research Monday Reading “The Baffling Americans” Read the text and discuss Group interview about reading discussion Reading text, participants ’ reading texts Tuesday Writing summaries in the computer lab during reading and writing class and sending it to group members journal

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64 Table 3-3. Continued Morning Afternoon Days Participant observation Interview Archival research Wednesday Writing discussion The summary of “The Baffling Americans” Read the summaries and discuss Group interview about writing discussion Summaries, corrected summaries by group members Thursday Rewriting summaries in the computer lab during reading and writing class and sending it to group members journal Table 3-4. Week3, Group3: Hispanic & Asian Participants (Patricia, Vanessa, KyungOk and Masami) Morning Afternoon Days Participant observation Interview Archival research Monday Reading “In the classroom, Life experience, UF students learn about life by studying the culture of death” Read the text and discuss Group interview about reading discussion Reading text, participants’ reading texts Tuesday Writing summaries in the computer lab during reading and writing class and sending it to group members journal Wednesday Writing discussion The summary of “In the classroom, Life experience, UF students learn about life by studying the culture of death” Read the summaries and discuss Group interview about writing discussion Summaries, corrected summaries by group members Thursday Rewriting summaries in the computer lab during reading and writing class and sending it to group members journal Table 3-5. Week 4: Feedback session, all particip ants (Masami, KyungOk, Gosia, Isabel, Patricia, Vanessa) Day Activity After all data collection and preliminary data analysis ends, 60 minutes Asking some sections of data to participants, presenting my findings, having discussi on and getting feedback. Participant Observation In this present study Danny L. Jorgensen’ s (1989) participant obs ervations is used for reading discussions and wr iting discussions. As a resear cher, in each observation I

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65 had the membership role (Jorgensen, 1989) and my involvement was overt (with the knowledge of insiders). Reading discussions included silent r eading of a text (each time different text); asking unknown words, meaning of sentences, sentence structures; talking about the main idea and supporting ideas; expr essing individual though ts and experiences and so forth. Writing discussions included reading each others’ summaries; correcting their grammar; asking for clarifications; gi ving suggestions; and organization and so forth. The purpose of both reading and writing ob servations is to pr ovide answers to how participants coming from diffe rent cultural backgrounds make meaning while reading and writing through interactive learning and how par ticipants’ soci o-cultural iden tity play a role in their comprehension and meaning ma king process. There were three reading observation and three writing observation which will take 45 to 60 minutes each of them. Reading discussions were done on Mondays at class time; the next day (Tuesday) during the Reading and Writing cl ass (at a computer lab), the participants wrote their summaries in the computer lab. On Wednesd ays writing discussions were done at class time. On Thursdays the participants during their computer lab class of Reading and Writing course rewrote their summaries. This weekly cycle was followed with different group combinations with six par ticipants for three weeks: Th e first week the first group will include Hispanic and European particip ants (Vanessa, Patricia, Gosia and Isabel, from Honduras, Venezuela, Poland and Switzerland). The second week the group included European and Asian participants (Gosia, Isabel, KyungOk and Masami, from Poland, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan). The third week the group included Asian and Hispanic participants (KyungOk, Masami, Vanessa and Patricia, from South Korea, Japan, Honduras and Venezuela).

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66 All of the reading and writing observations took a place in my office located very close to the class. All the discussions were tape-recorded and transcribed by the researcher. Also, after each participant observation, the rese archer kept field notes and extended notes about each session. Interviews Other data collection method, semi-structu red interviews (Kvale, 1996), were also employed in this study to provide insights for the participant observations and to answer the questions about how students’ mean ing making during reading and writing discussions contribute to thei r writing and how interactiv e language learning influence English language learning (benefits, difficulties, and so forth). These interviews were done following the observations of reading and writing discussions. Totally there were six intervie ws and each interview lasted 45-60 minutes with each group in my office located very close to the Reading and Writing class at ELI. Interview questions were focused on social constructionist theoretical frame (see interview questions in appendix) Therefore, the questions we re included some key words reflecting the theoretical frame, such as “role”, “participating” and “collaboration”. Similar to the pilot study, in this study th e sequence of the questi ons was designed from general questions to specific ones following Spradley’s (1970) words grand-tour and mini tour. (See Appendix for the interview questions and interview guide). Different from the pilot study in which I interviewed with each group member individually, in this present study I have interviewed with the groups who have participated to the study (first week Hisp anics and Europeans, second week Europeans and Asians and lastly, Hispanics and Asians). All interviews were recorded on an audiotape and transcribe d by the researcher.

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67 Archival Data Collection Archival research is another data coll ection method (Hill, 1993) that was employed in this study. Archival documents were co llected simultaneously during the participant observations, interviews and th e feedback session. The archival data included the participants’ summaries (fir st and rewritten), their group members’ notes on that summaries (each group member has copies of other group members’ summaries), their journals (two times each week), the researcher’s field notes, the reading texts given to the groups, teacher’s feedbacks on participants’ su mmaries, the researcher’s field notes. Feedback Session The last data collection method is th e feedback sessions (Kvale, 1989). After observing the groups for both read ing and writing discussions and interviewing with them after each discussions, there was a fee dback session which included whole group members who participated to this study. For th is feedback session all participants and I came together to analyze the data together a nd review the findings of the study with the researcher. As this study is guided by the soci al constructionist theo ry, the participants’ contribution to the research process has b een maximized through this feedback session. This feedback session also took place in my office located at Norman Hall very close to the Reading and Writing class and it took 60 minutes. This session was also audiorecorded and transcribed by the researcher. Discourse Analysis In this study the data analysis met hod is Discourse analysis (Gee, 1999, 2005), which is used as a method or set of tools fo r doing qualitative res earch developed in the sociology field emphasizing language in-use The reason for using Gee’s discourse analysis in this study is that the research questions of this study investigat e participants’

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68 language use, meaning making while learning English and American culture interwoven with their own and other group members’ cultur al and social discourses. In that, Gee’s tools for discourse analysis for both linguist ic and social struct ures can serve to investigate this purpose. Social construc tionism as a theoretical background and discourse analysis (Gee, 1999, 2005) as a data analysis method will guide this present study. As James Gee (1992, 1996, 2001) combined di scourse analysis with the literacy field, I chose Gee’s (1999/2005) discourse anal ysis method in this study. Different from the pilot study in which partic ipants took a medium role, in this present study participants have taken a major role through participating to the data analysis. Hence, participants have contributed to the study during the whol e process of data collection, and data analysis applying social constr uctionist theoretical perspective at each section of this study. There are two different conceptions of disc ourse analysis: discourse analysis used as a “unified body of theory, method, and pr actice goes by that name”; and discourse analysis used as “a method or set of tools for doing qualitative research” (Gee et al., 1992). In this present study the second c oncept will be considered as a Discourse analysis. Also, within this second con cept of Discourse analysis th ere are different variations evolved in the different disciplines: lingui stics, cognitive psychology, sociolinguistics and poststructuralism, and sociology (Potter, 2002). Firstly, in Lingui stics field discourse analysis has been applied to studies on senten ce or utterance cohere into discourse aiming at duplicating on a wider canvas the success of linguistics analyses on units such as sentences (Brown & Yule, 1983). Secondly, disc ourse analysis in Cognitive Psychology

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69 focuses on mental scripts and schemata are us ed to make sense of narrative. In other words, it answers to: “Do people work with story grammars to understand narratives in the way they use sentence grammars to unde rstand sentences” (van Dijk & Kintch, 1983)? Similar to linguistics, th e aim is to duplicate some of the success of work on grammar in the psychological domain. Thirdly, in Sociolinguistics discourse analysis focuses on interactions, such as classroom interaction in which typical interaction patterns in teaching based around “initiationresponsefeedback” st ructures (Sinclair & Coulthard (1975). The aim of discourse analysis in this discipline is to produce a model that would make sense of di scourse structure in a whole range of different settings (Coulthard & Montgomery, 1981). Fourthly, in poststructuralism a very different variation of discourse analys is developed, called as “contin ental discourse analysis” in order to differentiate it from its rather more strait-laced Anglo-Saxon counterparts. Associated with Michael Foucault, this versi on of discourse analysis is less concerned with discourse in terms of specific interac tion as with how a discourse, or a set of “statements”, comes to constitute objects and subjects. The last variation of discourse analysis developed in the field of sociol ogy and more recently in social psychology and communications (Billig, 1992; Edwards & Pott er, 1992; Gilbert & Mu lkay, 1984; Potter & Wetherell, 1987). There are some differe nces between this one and the other variations. For example, in this variation the cognitivism of the work in linguistics and cognitive psychology is rejected because it is very diffi cult to properly address how discourse is oriented to acti on (Edwards, 1997). Also, this la test version criticizes the discourse analysis in socioli nguistics as it is based on mech anistic linguistic analysis and inattentive to the complex social practices that take place in classrooms and other

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70 discourses. Additionally, the la test variation, though it was influenced by Foucauldian approaches to discourse, states simila r doubts about the discourse analysis in poststructuralism (Potter, 2002). Among these di fferent variations of discourse, none of them is uniquely “right” because different variations might fit different issues and questions better or worse than others; and different approaches sometimes reach similar conclusions though using somewhat different tools and terminologies connected to different “microcommunities” of researchers (Gee, 1999). In this study the focus is on the latest discourse analysis, which has devel oped in sociology emphasizing language-in-use. Therefore, when I state “discourse analysis”, I am referring to this version. To sum up, with the discourse analysis term in this st udy I am referring to the ‘discourse analysis’ which is used as a “method or set of tool s for doing qualitative research” (Gee et al., 1992) and the one that is developed in sociology emphasizing language-in-use; specifically Gee’s (1999, 2005) discourse analysis. According to Gee’s (1999, 2005), discourse an alysis is the analysis of language, as it is used to enact activities, perspectives, a nd identities. General principles of discourse analysis is that “rule-governed and intern ally structured human discourse is produced by speakers who are ineluctably situated in a soci ohistorical matrix, whos e cultural, political, economic, social, and personal realities sh ape the discourse; and discourse itself constitutes or embodies important aspects of th at sociohistorical matrix. In other words, discourse reflects human experience and, at th e same time, constitutes important parts of that experience. Thus, discourse analysis may be concerned with any part of human experience touched on or constituted by discourse” (Gee et al., 1992 p.229). As it is understood from its definition and general pr inciples, discourse analysis focuses on

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71 “Discourse” and “discourse” in language. “dis course” with a “little d” refers to “how language is used “on site” to enact activiti es and identities” (Gee, 1999, p.7). In other words, language alone is “little d”. “Discourses” with a capital “D,” refers to “different ways in which we humans integrate language with non-language “stuff,” such as different ways of thinking, acting, in teracting, valuing, feeling, be lieving, and using symbols, tools, and objects in the right places and at the right times so as to enact and recognize different identities and activities, give the ma terial world certain meanings, distribute social goods in a certain way, make certain sorts of meaningful connections in our experience, and privilege cer tain symbol systems and wa ys of knowing over others” (Gee, 1999, p.7). In other words, Discourses with a capital “D,” is one’s identity kit shaping one’s way of speaking, thinking, and be having in the world so as to take on a particular role that others will recognize as being themselves (Alvermann, 2000). According to Gee (1999), we are all members of many different Discourses, which often influence each other in positive and negative ways, and which sometimes collaborate with each other to create new ones. For example, When you “pull off” being a culturally-sp ecific sort of “everyday” person, a “regular” at the local bar, a certain type of African-A merican or Greek-Australian, a certain type of cutting-edge particle physicist or teenage heavy-metal enthusiast, a teacher or a student of a certa in sort, or any of a great many other “ways of being in the world,” you use language and “other stuff” – ways of acting, interacting, feeling, believing, valuing, together with other people and with various sorts of characteristic objects, symbols, tools, a nd technologies – to recognize yourself and others as meaning and meaningful in certa in ways. In turn, you produce, reproduce, sustain, and transform a given “form of life” or Discourse. All life for all of us is just a patchwork of thoughts, words, object s, events, actions, a nd interactions in Discourses (Gee, 1999 p.7). Discourse analysis combines both these li nguistic and social structures features within itself. According to Gee (1999), discourse analys is indicates that humans “ recognize” certain patterns in our experience of the world. Thes e patterns include one of

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72 the many “ situated meanings” of a word. Words involve explanation of these patterns (Anglin 1977; Keil 1979, 1989), but different so cial and cultural groups, different age groups and genders, have differe nt “explanatory theories” ab out these words. Moreover, all these theories are shaped by “status”. In ot her words, these theories are rooted in the practices of the sociocultural groups to which the learner belongs. Since these theories are rooted in the practices of socioculturally defined groups of people, they are called as “ cultural models” (D’Andrade 1995; D’Andrade and Strauss 1992; Holland and Quinn 1987; Shore 1996; Strauss and Quinn 1997). Even though people are shaped and shapes cultures, there is always interactions because “bits and pieces of cultural models are in people’s heads (different bits and pieces for di fferent people), while other bits and pieces reside in the practices and settings of cultural groups and, thus, need not take up residence inside heads at all” (Gee, 1999, p. 43). It is suggested that in inte rpreting data in discourse anal ysis, there are two kinds of components: social structure (macro level tools, task buildings), and linguistic structures (micro level tools) (Gee, 2005). Among si x task builders (significance, activities, identities, relationships, politics, connec tions, and sign system & knowledge), many of them have been applied to the data but in so me cases it could not be possible to identify all of them. Linguistic structures, including function words, content words, information, lines and stanzas have been considered. Stre ss and intonations were not applied because Gee’s (2005) suggestions are for native speaker s of English; however, the participants of this study are coming from different language backgrounds with different stress forms, and as a researcher I do not know these various language and stress formations and their significance in their cultures.

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73 As suggested by Gee (2005), all the data wa s first transcribed. As data analysis method is discourse analysis, in the transc riptions (both observations, and interviews) data representation was utilized in terms of presenting emphasis, pauses, overlaps, and laughter to provide a context that meaning making processes took place. Secondly, within the data stanzas meaning units were identif ied based on situated meanings, discourse models, social languages, discourses and c onversations (Gee, 2005). Then stanza lines were identified, including function words, content words and information. These linguistic features provide an answer to how di scourses, social activitie s, socially situated identities, discourse models are being desi gned linguistically in the data (Gee, 2005). Thirdly, for each stanza twenty-six questions identifying six building tasks were asked. These questions helped me to find situated meanings, discourse models, social languages, discourses and conversations showing how social activities and socially situated identities are being enacted (Gee, 2005). After finding answers to these questions, themes (motifs) were created and the analysis was organized to a ddress to the research questi ons of the present study (Gee, 2005). The findings were compared with the archival data includi ng the participants’ summaries, journals and the readi ng text as data triangulation. Validity In Discourse analysis, validity does not “refle ct reality in any simple way” (Mishler 1990; Carspecken, 1996, Gee, 2005) because “reality” is not only constructed (Hacking, 2000); meaning that both human construction and what is “out there” beyond human control play a role in cons truction of reality (Gee, 2005; Hacking, 2000). Also, because language as reflexively related to situation and discourse in return reflect the language, analyst “interprets his/her data in a certain way and those da ta so interpreted, in turn,

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74 render the analysis meaningful in a certa in way and not others” (Gee, 2005 p .113). Therefore, as Gee (2005) suggest s validity should be taken to be something that different analysis can have more or less and validity is not for “once and all” but it is open to further discussions and dispute. According to Gee (2005) validity for discourse analysis is based on four elements: Convergence : a discourse analysis is more, rather than less, valid (i.e., “trustworthy”), the more the answers to th e twenty-six questions above converge in the way they support the anal ysis or, put the matter the other way around, the more the analysis offers compatible and convincing answers to many or all of them. Agreement : answers to the twenty-six questi ons above are more convincing the more “native speakers” of the social la nguages in the data and “members” of the Discourses implicated in the data agree that the analysis reflects how such social languages actually can function in such se ttings. The native speakers do not need to know why or how their social languages so function, just that th ey can. Answer to the twenty-six questions ar e more convincing the more other discourse analysts (who accept our basic theoretical assumpti ons and tools), or other sorts of researchers (e.g., ethnographic researchers) tend to support our conclusions Coverage : the analysis is more valid the more it can be applied to related sorts of data. This includes being able to make sens e of what has come before and after the situation being analyzed and being able to predict the so rts of things that might happen in related sorts of situations. Linguistic detail : the analysis is more valid the more it is tightly tied to details of linguistic structure. All human languages are evolved, biologically and culturally, to serve an array of different commun ication functions. For this reason, the grammar of any social language is composed of specific forms that are “designed” to carry out more than one function. Part of what makes a discourse analysis valid, then, is that the analyst is able to ar gue that the communicat ive functions being uncovered in the analysis are linked to gram matical devices that manifestly can and do serve these functions, according to the judgments of “native speakers” of the social languages involved and the analyses of lin guists. (p.113) In this present study Gee’s (2005) these f our validity elements were applied through answering twenty-six questions about task bu ildings as convergence and the agreement of these answers were discussed with the participants during the feedback session (agreement and coverage). Also, linguist ic details supported the analysis through

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75 applying Gee’s (2005) linguistic st ructures (micro level tools) to the data to support the social structure (macro leve l tools, task buildings). Limitations The possible limitations of the study are re lated to my subjectivity, theoretical perspective, data collection, data analysis a nd setting. Firstly, relate d to my subjectivity as a researcher I do not know specific know ledge about Hispanic, Asian and European cultures. Even though I have co mpleted several studies with the Asian students coming from Taiwan and South Korea, there might be some cultural point s that I might not understand well. However, this limitation wa s overcome by the feedback session that I have conducted with the participants. A dditionally, my subjectivity towards the classroom teacher as he considered this st udy as an “experiment” in his class and as through his authoritative figure indicated that I could involve the class within some limitations. In other words, he did not want to make changes in his curriculum and he did not want to spend much time on the activitie s, which might be required by this study. Also, he has never applied group work activ ities before in his class; therefore, participants might have had difficulty in ad apting to the group work and working with their group members. As the inte raction in the classroom is t eacher to student and student to teacher, participants might get used to getting a correct answer to their questions immediately as they asked to the teacher. However, during the group work activity some questions might not be answered and this s ituation might create frustration. Secondly, theoretical perspective of this study, which is social constr uctionism, limits this study as knowledge is constructed is specific to th e group members including me. In other words, meaning is situated within this discourse be cause in a social constructionism framework individuals and individual meaning-making are relationa l to groups. Thirdly, data

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76 collection methods include audio recording a nd the researcher’s fi eld notes which might exclude some extralinguistic features with in the discourse. Also, as I am the only researcher in the field, I might not give my whole attention to the various events that are happening at the same time. In terms of the pa rticipants, the participants in this present study turned to be all female and aged from 17 to 26, this study can provide insights for these participants’ discourses. Further st udies can work on mixed gender groups and different age groups’ interactions and meaning making processes. As data analysis, discourse analysis is employed in this study in a rubric that suggests that reality is repr esented through language in tran scriptions. Studying a group interaction provides a high possibility to have more overlaps in speech which might result in inaccurate or incomplete transcriptions. Lastly, the setting had to be my office for data collection instead of the classr oom, especially for participan t observation, as there were two other groups in the class which caused so much noise that it almost made the recording impossible. Furthe r research might investigate the interaction within a classroom with teacher presence.

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77 CHAPTER 4 LINGUISTIC PATTERN OF DISCUSSION This chapter uses a linguistic perspec tive to address patterns within the participants’ small group reading and writi ng discussions. Firstly, I will explain the language pattern of reading discussions. Du ring the reading discussions participants focused on language to decode words (Word Attack ) in the reading texts. In this process, first language and proficiency level of E nglish morphology and lexicon affected their meaning making of the reading texts. S econdly, I explain the language pattern of discussions about writing. During the writ ing discussions, participants focused on language while discussing grammar and syntac tic structure of their summaries on reading texts. Through an analysis of the writing discussions two major topics emerged which made participants focus more on language issu es: differences in syntactic structures of first language and English (L2), and chal lenges in translating culturally embedded concepts and idioms from first language to English (L2). To close this chapter I summarize the fi ndings related to li nguistic pattern of discussions in reading and writing under “Participants’ Explorations About Their Language Learning with a Linguistic Focus.” In the next chapter I address the social pattern of discussing reading and writing. Late r, in chapter 6, I will connect the linguistic and social-cultural results of this research together in order to arrive at some tentative conclusions on how the small group interactio ns may support understanding of the texts, writing summaries, and how the group inte ractions may support L2 acquisition.

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78 Language as the Focus in Reading During the reading discussions, participan ts gave more importance to encoding unknown words in the texts either direc tly (through asking unknown words to group members) or indirectly (through content disc ussions). Due to part icipants’ overemphasis on unknown vocabulary, their pe rception of reading compre hension was subjected to Word Attack in which participants were working on constructing meaning of words in the reading texts. Participants engaged in group discussions, working on unknown words to aid their understanding of the reading text. When langua ge learners struggle to comprehend a text it is a natural process of learning for th em to ask questions about grammar and vocabulary (Blyth, 2003). However, in this st udy, this process of l earning was inhibited for some participants because of their he sitancy to ask their group members too many questions about unknown vocabulary and gram matical structures. They were also reluctant to ask for assistance in coming up with background knowledge for the topic. For instance, Masami stated that she did not unde rstand the text because there were too many unknown words for her to handle on her own or to ask for the help of group members. Even though she looked for their meaning in a dictionary at home, she could not understand some of their meanings. Additiona lly, as Masami could not understand the whole text due to the unknown words, she te nded to use almost the same vocabulary and syntactic structures of the read ing text in her summary, such that she might be accused of as plagiarism (Brown, 2004; Fox, 1994; Ke rn, 2003). However, the reasons behind Masami’s act are both linguistic and cultural. It is linguistic because she lacks trust in her English language skills and thus in her abil ity to summarize the text clearly (Fu, 2006). It is cultural because of the scholarly tradi tion in which she has been trained may not

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79 construe repeating the original passages of the text as a form of plagiarism (Pennycook, 1996). As the study progressed Masami adjusted to the scaffolding in the discussion groups and she overcame the linguistic and cultur al issues that prevented her from asking more questions (see Education system in Chapter 5). Group members scaffolded each other when they were working on Word Attack in the reading texts. In this scaffolding proce ss, similarities between participants’ first languages and English (L2), and their language proficiency of English in morphology and lexicon combined to facilitat e their contribution to the di scussion and meaning making. Differences Between First Language and English Inhibit Decoding Words The participants in this study came fr om diverse language backgrounds (see Methodology): Spanish (in Honduras and Ven ezuela), Polish (in Poland), French and Italian (in Switzerland), Japane se (in Japan), Korean (in So uth Korea) and Turkish (in Turkey). The languages of the pa rticipants belong to different genealogies as summarized in the table below. Table 4-1.The roots of languages (Leon, 2006) Participants’ names Countries Languages Language families Language root Patricia Venezuela Vanessa Honduras Spanish Gosia Poland Polish Isabel Switzerland French, Italian, and German Indo-European Latin Masami Japan Japanese KyungOk South Korea Korean Considered a possible Altaic or Japonic Yildiz (the researcher) Turkey Turkish Ural-Altaic Hispanic and European participants we re able to guess some unknown words and concepts correctly in the reading texts as th eir L1 shares the same language root, Latin, with English. European and Hispanic partic ipants also had an advantage in encoding

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80 unknown words in the reading text due to posit ive transfer, whereas other participants’ word encoding was inhibited due to the differe nces between the langua ge root of English and their first language family (Ellis, 1994). For example, KyungOk whose first language is Korean had difficult in guessing the meaning of “immutably” in the text as highlighted below: The United States has been compared to a man on a bicycle, who will collapse if he stops pedaling and moving ahead-unlike other, ol der nations, which are what they are immutably whether standing still, going backw ard, or advancing. In its relentless pursuit of ultimate and unreachable perfecti on, it has been described as a daring experiment, one generation ahead of everybody else, the last word in modernity, the future that works, the next century…. [2. reading text, Baffling Americans] As KyungOk could not decode the word on her own, she asked to the group: =>33 O: first “immutably” in the first line in 1,2,3 (counting) paragraph [line] 34 I: yeah it is something that doe sn’t change that stays the same 35 O: doesn’t change? 36 I: yeah, we have the same word in French so, that is kind of easy for me. [2. reading discussion] Isabel explained the meaning of “immutably” (adv.) to group members by referring to the same word in French “immuablement” (adv.), which is her native language. Isabel applied a cognate strategy, that is, she looked for similariti es between the English word and a word in her native language (Birc h, 2002; Ellis, 1994). Hence, KyungOk to was able to overcome her disadva ntage in encoding words that were dissimilar between her first language and English, because Isabel was able to provide scaffolding. The similarities between European and Hi spanic’s primary languages to English also helped Hispanic and European partic ipants guess the meaning of some concepts shared in the Western languages and cultu res. As language and culture cannot be separated, the similarities betw een the languages can also be observed in their cultures (Brown, 2000; Hymes, 1974; Lado, 1957; Sapir a nd Whorf, 1964). In that sense, sharing

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81 the same language root also provides connect ion to some concepts, which are developed in the Western culture. Learners with di fferent cultural backgrounds may lack knowledge of a word’s social, political or religious connotations (B irch, 2002). For instance, the concept “pragmatism” which is developed by Jean Paul Sartre in France is cited in the second reading text, referring to the crucial role of practicality in American life style and culture. For the European participants understa nding this concept was easier compared to Asian participants, as the concept was created within Euro-American culture and philosophy. Hence, European and Hispanic participants explained the meaning of “pragmatism” to Asian participants through elab orating their explanations with examples, Participants’ English Morphology and Lexic on Proficiency Level Influence Decoding Words In addition to the effects of first language on the construction of word meanings in the reading texts, participants’ English (L 2) morphology and lexicon proficiency level also influenced the process of encoding word s. While participants with lower language proficiency of English morphology and le xicon asked about the meaning of unknown vocabulary, participants with higher language proficiency expl ained the meaning to other group members. In addition, participants with higher language proficiency in English gave suggestions to group members about be tter word usage in their summaries during the writing discussions. During the word en coding process, generally high-proficient participants with knowledge on English morphology and lexi con provided a scaffolding for students who lacked similar proficiencies. For example, Masami had difficulty in understanding the word “engage” as a verb form in the reading text given below: death and life, students often walk away from the course with a better understanding of themselves.

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82 Bluck often engages her students in candi d discussions about deat h at the personal and societal level. Close to September 11, fo r instance, they talked about war and terrorism. From then on, that tone created a basis for frank discussions about m any facets of death, often controversial. [3. reading text] In order to solve this problem, Masami asked it to the group: =>114 M: what does it mean “engage” 115 O/ V: where? 116 Y: engage? 117 M: in this sentences 118 P: ‘motivate’ like 119 M: ‘motivate’? 120 P: like… 121 V: like ‘to get involved.’ 122 M: ‘convince’? 123 Y: do you know the ‘engagement’? 124 M: yeah. Of course 125 V: it is same thing 126 like you are in a class 127 and if you engage because you are very interested in the class 128 and you come every time and you participate. 129 M: aaaaa 130 Y: and ‘engagement’ is the noun form and this is the verb. [ 3. reading discussion] Patricia and Vanessa tried to scaffold Masa mi through providing “motivate” (in line 118) and “to get involved” (in line 121) as alternative lexicons to the unknown verb “engage.” As Masami repeated the suggested verbs with a questioning tone (line 122), it was clear that she could not make the meaning of the alternative lexicons, wh ich indicated she did not have enough lexical and semantic info rmation to understand the word and its meaning (Birtch, 2002). Ellis and Beaton (1993) stat ed that nouns are easier to learn than verbs; for that reason, I tried to explain th e word by changing its morphologic form from verb to noun, as “engagement” is more common than its verb form (line 123 and 130). Through explanations from more proficient students not only other members but also lower-level students scaffolded each ot her’s learning. To explain a word, several people in the group worked together to elabor ate each other’s explan ations to help the

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83 lower-level students. Consequently, these elaborations and explanations helped participants to understand the reading texts better (Garcia-Ramirez, 2001). Language as the Focus in Writing During the writing discussions, participants gave more importance to linguistic features rather than the cont ent of the text in their summaries. Due to participants’ overemphasis on linguistic features, their perception of writing was subjected to grammatical and synt actic structures. Participants’ perception of summary as a ‘good grammar and format’ rather than content might be due to the limitation of E nglish language education they had either in their country or at their la nguage study in the USA. For instance, Patricia’s knowledge about writing a summary in English that she learned in her country was limited to the format including paragraphs with eight or six sentences: =>500 P: well maybe what I’ve written in the course that before come here 501 the course that I took, in English, 502 we had to write a little. 503 Eight-sentence paragraph with ei ght sentences or six sentences. 504 Maybe that practice. [1. writing discussion interview] Patricia’s English language education on writing was limited to covering only the format of writing summaries rather than the conten t of it. According to Patricia, good writing was “good format.” Additionally, participants ’ language learning experiences on writing at the ELI in the USA was also limited to format: =>468 G: experiences? No I wa s always try to avoid wri ting so I don’t have many of them. 469 And maybe the classed we here in at ELI 470 it just helped me to see what is the structure in English writing. 471 So, it helped me to make it lik e look more like supposed to look. 472 I supposed to use indent like double space, 473 stuff like that, just like that and 474 I supposed to go from like main idea to lik e more advance, like more specific thing. [1. writing discussion interview]

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84 For Gosia, her ELI experiences helped her to learn the linear orga nization of ideas in English, such as presenting the main idea first and then elaborating it with details and examples, and some formatting features, su ch as indentation and double spacing. As a result, not only was the participants’ pe rception of language l earning based on their previous education used to correct grammatical features, revealing th at the purpose of the ELI was to teach the linguisti c features of language rather than teaching language through content-focused reading and writing. Based on these commen ts, participants’ knowledge about writing is mostly declarative know ledge, which enables identification of characteristics rather than procedural knowledge, enabling producti on (Hillocks, 1995). Therefore, grammar and formatting features became more important than what was presented in the content, especially in writing. Due to the style of the participants’ Eng lish language education in their countries and at ELI, they considered writing as limite d to strict grammar and formatting rules and, thus, made a direct correlation between th eir incompetent grammar skills and writing. This resulted in the participants’ very ne gative attitude towards writing, especially among those with low grammar proficiency. Motivati on plays an important role in the learning of a language (Ellis, 1994); hence a student with a negative attitude, might not be expected to enjoy the learni ng process or to have higher language proficiency (Ellis, 1994). According to Ellis (1994), social factors help to shape learners’ attitudes which, in turn, influence learning outcomes. For instan ce, being in a group and getting feedback about her summary from other group members, helped Gosia to have positive attitude towards writing. As Gosia was used to submitti ng her work to a teacher and getting back

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85 her work with full of grammatical corrections she was very discouraged and considered her work to be “bad” despite all the effort and time she spent. Gosia felt as if she was constantly being reminded that her English language skills were poor. As Gosia considered her written work an evaluation form, the results she received from it were not very promising. Therefore, Gosia had very negative attitude towards writing at the beginning of this study. She stated that she was not good at writing even in her native language, and unambiguously explained that not only did she “not like her writing” (line 463), she “hates” writin g (line 455). Through Gosia’s statem ents the two different things “her hate of her grammar” and “her hate of writing” became as one thing. As she was not good at grammar, considering it as her “pro blem” (line 459, 463); therefore, it is not surprising when she says that her “writing is always short” (line 471) or when she equates good writing with “good grammar” (line 459, li ne 463). Due to her negative attitude towards writing, she thought that learning an ything about writing was not necessary for her; she did “not need it” (line 462). The main reason for her negative atti tude towards writing was that she considered writing as only “grammar” and a task that was done individually but not colla boratively. Therefore, thr ough this study which required participants to interact and scaffold each othe r, not only Gosia but also other participants realized “writing a summary became easy” (line 345) as the reading and writing discussions progressed. Particip ants’ comments show a change in their attitudes towards writing. They suggest that wri ting is enjoyable process when it becomes not individual but group work; thus, the writing process does not require being silent and writing. Instead it requires talking, discussing, lear ning from each other and reflecting on the content in a paper and appropriate grammar.

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86 Language proficiency, in addition to aff ecting attitudes towards writing, affected the comprehension of the reading text, and the composition of the summary composition. When participants understood the reading text they summarized rather than depending on the structures in the reading texts. Fo r instance, Isabel had higher-level language proficiency than Masami in the group (Isab el was also assessed as the most improved student in terms of grammar among all ELI st udents by the administration of ELI at the end of the semester). Isabel not only underst ood the reading text better, but she also had better grammatical knowledge to express the co ntent in her own words. When Isabel and Masami were in the same group during the second reading discussion about American culture, the text was consider ed as “confusing” and “di fficult to understand” by the participants, because it was a short section from a book without a t itle or context cues. Therefore, the ideas presented in the text we re not clear for the participants. Even though Isabel said the text was conf using as others did, her summar y was found as a well-written one and as the most comprehensible one in terms of clarity of ideas by the group members, which might be attributed to her high level English language proficiency level: =>365 G: I like the Isabel’s summary because it was short and it was like very clear for me 366 so, I could understand what she meant. 367 Y: she paraphrased a lot 368 G: yeah she paraphrased. This is what 369 it was not the sentences 370 we are not taken from the text. 371 It was just paraphrased 372 so it make very easy 373 we didn’t have to know 374 first read after think change the normal language. 375 It was like it already in a norma l language like everyday language [2. writing discussion]

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87 Table 4-2. Isabel’s summary about American culture The text, written by Luigi Barzin i is about US culture and the perception foreigners have of it. Americans are always going fo rwards, without taking any break, and it makes them being ahead of the other nations. The sour ce of their energy to archive goals was at first their religiousness, which accustomed them to try everything to solve their problems. Americans also have two main characteristic s that makes them different from the other cultures: the American dream, that makes th em try to reach perfection, and pragmatism, that helps them to get efficiently the so lution to a problem. Fo reigners, especially Europeans, are very surprised by Americans’ eagerness to get result s, sometimes without taking time to think. However, that is what makes the US so advanced. This text was for me difficult to unders tand because it is taken out of a book, and therefore the reader can’t follow the author’s id eas in detail. Thus, I can’t say if I am pro or con his opinion. However, the topic is interesting, and makes us think about our experience in the USA. [March 29, 2005] Unlike Isabel who represented the content with her own words, Masami replaced words with their synonyms and used sim ilar syntactic structures showing a highdependency on the reading text, which might both be due to her lower level English language proficiency and her prev ious education experience in favor of direct translation (Kern, 2003; Thompson, 1987). In Masami’s summary, as shown in Table 4-3, the underlined words and phrases are taken directly from the reading texts. However, in the second part of her summary Masami explains her opinion about the topic, which has also discussed during the discussion sess ion, she less depends on the text. Table 4-3. Masami’s summary about American culture An article we read in our first discussion is about American identity. It is written by Luigi Brazini. The author descri bed America as a man on a bicycle always pedaling and moving ahead Because America chase the ultimate and the unreachable perfection of their goal relentlessly It is one of the reason why Amer ica successes as most developed country. Second reason is because of their work ethic and greed It is compulsion for American like all-pervading religiousness, sense of duty, the submission to God-given code of behavior, the accepta nce of a God-given task to achievement and of all the necessary sacrifices. As an American characteris tic, the author mentions about Pragmatism which is the belief that all problems can be solved and the impulse to solve all of them as soon as possible. Foreigners are surprised about Americans impatience. Americans are always in a great hurry. It can be impetuosity, ardor, and eagerness to

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88 Table 4-3. Continued apply incomplete formulas and achieve rapid results. Americans are more hurry than industrialized countries people such as Germans or Japanese For American the main purpose of their life is resolution of problems After I read this article I felt th at I don’t think Americans are always in a hurry and impetuosity. They are rather than patient for me, especially for Japanese. For example, they can wait in the restaurants and at the bus stop for long time. And at the Cafe shops, convenience stores and cell phone shops, they don’t change th eir selling goods so often. This is best way to survive in Japanese soci ety. Because Japanese really like new things. In Japan almost every day they put new products in their shops to attract customers. After 1 or 2 weeks, the goods suddenly disappear. It is much faster than American does. In this way I feel Americ an doesn’t chase ultimate relentlessly .[March 29, 2005] Like Masami, in her summary about American culture KyungOk ““wrote like full sentences from the article” w ithout citation or quotation marks whereas “she (Isabel) change it” and “people didn’t r ead this article they also can understand more clearly and order [through Isabel’s summary]” (WD2, line 379, 381-382). Unlike Isabel who focused on representing the content of the reading text, KyungOk gave importance to linguistic features in her summary: KyungOk summarized the text through using synonym words as summary. =>176 O: Whenever I write summary I just tr y to change the word from the article 177 like use another word 178 synonym kind of synonym 179 but after reading Isabel’s summary I t hought she really wrote in her own word 180 not just change it word or synonym. 181 Maybe when later 182 next time when I write summary I will try to like her the way. 183 So, it can be good way to change my writing style. 184 And I didn’t know they are 185 like Gosia and other people didn’t understand my writing summary. 186 Maybe later to make my writi ng clear clearer to others 187 I will try to write write yeah clea r. [2. writing discussion interview] Through this quotation, KyungOk explained ho w her perception of summarizing has changed and she learned from Isabel how to write a summary, which also indicates that participants were learning from each other through this study.

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89 Different from the participants’ previous experiences both in th eir country and in the USA (especially at the ELI), in this study participants were give n a chance to talk about their summaries, read each others’ summar ies, give suggestions to each others, and learn from each other. Through this present st udy, as participants shared their summaries with each other rather than submitting only to th eir teachers they have realized the change in their conception of “writing” and they trie d to make improvements not only in terms of representing ideas in a well-o rganized way but also in expr essing their opinions. Hence, their concept of a summary included not only linguistic and format focus, but also content one. As participants’ earlier perception of writing in English was limited to grammar and syntactic structures, during the group di scussions, their talk overemphasized the grammar points especially at the beginni ng of the study. The main difficulties participants had in writing a summary in English were mainly due to the differences in syntactic structures of their first language and English, a nd challenges in translating culturally embedded concepts and idioms from first language to English. Differences in Syntactic Structures of First Language and English As Gass and Lakshmanan (1991) state, ‘the learner initially searches for correspondences or matches in form be tween the native and the second language’ (p.272). Lower level English language proficie nt participants whos e native language and English were similar more tend to translate the sentence structures directly from L1 (Odlin, 1990). Differences in syntactic struct ures of first language and English mostly appeared to be in phrase and sentence structures. For example, Gosia translated a word “discuss” directly from her native language Po lish, but with an ina ppropriate preposition, “about.” In Gosia’s summary about American culture, she wrote:

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90 Table 4-4. Gosia’s summary about American culture The text that we had to writ e during Monday’s meeting basically discusses about American culture. The point of this text is to show how and why American culture differs form other cultures. In this text we can find a few examples of differences between American peoples and other nations. Also we can find information about basics of the American identity. For example one of them is the truth that Americans are pragmatic. The author of this text is supporting his ideas by bringing up the facts form history I think that this text was very interesting, because now I know that I am not the only person who thinks that even though we live in a global world we differ from each other. Being a foreigner in the USA is not easy and I think that people shouldn’t express their opinions about American culture if they have never been in this country. [March 29. 2005] While discussing Gosia’s summary in a group, Patricia found an inaccuracy in the phrase, “discusses about.” Even though I have been learning English for a longer period of time than the participants, as a language learner, I did not know that “discuss about” was not accurate. Language learning involves producing output and testing it. Patricia, based on her previous experience on this issue, corre cted it—the reading and writing teacher, Steve, had once corrected Patricia’s mistake on the same topic: “the article basically ‘discusses spanking’ or ‘tal ks about.’ Steve told me, you can’t put ‘discu ssed about,’ you put either ‘discusses’ or ‘tal ks about’” (line 869-870). Based on her experience, Patricia explained that Gosia could use either “talks about” or “discusses,” but not “discusses about.” During an interview that followed the writing discussion about this phrase, Gosia confirmed that she directly translated from her native language (Polish) to English: “Because we have this in Polish, like exactly ‘discussing about it.’ You say like this but in Polish. So I just like transl ate directly so I am doing th is all the time even though I know about that I shouldn’t do” (line 353358). If Gosia had higher English language proficiency, she would be more aware of what is acceptable or not in writing in English. She might have overcome the negative transfer of the direct translation from her native

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91 language to English. In Gosia’s revised summ ary, instead of “discussed about” she used different form (talks about) that she has le arned from Patricia on the previous day during the writing discussion. Table 4-5. Gosia’s revised summa ry about American culture The text that we had to read during Monday’s meeting was written by Luigi Barzini. This text talks about American culture. The point of this text is to show how and why American culture differs from other cu ltures. In this text we can find a few examples of differences between American people and other nations… [March 31, 2005] In addition to incorrect uses of some phras es, participants also had some difficulty in the subject–object–verb order of sentences in English. Vanessa, for instance, directly translated a sentence structure fr om her native language, Spanish: Table 4-6. Vanessa’s summary about death and dying course Learning life by Studying the Culture of Death The article we read in yesterday’s class talked about a course imparted in the University of Florida by Susan Bluck, an assistant professor in the center of Gerontological Studies and the department of Psychology. The name of this unusual course is Death and Dying. Her goal is to teach the many aspects of death by dismantling this taboo, and how death affects each person in daily basis. She tries to generate outspoken, sincere, wide-open and often contr oversial discussions in each class. This class helps not only those people who had expe riences related with death but also those who are not familiar with it. I found interesting this topic In my culture and religion its very common to talk about death but I had never seen it as a class or a course. In my case I would be interested in taking this course. I think for a psychol ogist it is important to know the different perceptions every culture and re ligion has about death to be able to help people deal with it. Even though I have this special interest in psychology, I think th is course could be helpful to everyone. Death is something we all have in common, and sooner or later will touch our life in a special way. Everyone must seek ways and prepare themselves to overcome this type of experience. Last year I lost my grandparents (my mom’s parents). I think for all my family was very hard to deal with. But in my case, even though it was something I knew it could happen, was like a shoc k and it really mark a difference in my life. Still today I always th ink about that moment and the hard it was to say goodbye. I am really sure they are better there (heaven) than here but my selfishness make me feel sad for not having them with me. I think life is like a challenge, ever y day we had lived is a won battle. For me, since that sad experience, has helped me realized and treasure every little thing a have. I will neve r forget that moment, not even relieve the pain I feel, but I’m trying to be a better person and give in life all what I can to the people I love. [April 5, 2005]

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92 The reason for her direct translation is that the sentence structure in Spanish can be either Subject-Verb-Object or Subject-Ob ject-Verb (Coe, 1987); In English the only probable order is Subject-Verb-Object (Coe, 1987; Ellis, 1994). Due to the dual sentence orders in Spanish, Vanessa directly transforme d S-O-V order, which is a form of negative transfer, resulting in grammatically incorre ct sentence in English. As her English language proficiency level was not high enough, she was not able to realize that only one of the Spanish sentence structures was a pplicable to English sentence structure. Challenges in Translating Culturally Embe dded Concepts and Idioms from First Language to English Idioms are culturally embedded structures re flecting the cultural perspectives (Coe, 1987). According to Fox (1994), words or concepts can be untranslatable; equivalent verb tenses can be nonexistent or ha ve different usage; linguistic elements can be completely absent. Therefore, sometimes it might be difficult for a literal translation of an idiom into another language due to incommensurable cu ltural signification. Even though idioms are translated word by word to another language their cultural meaning might not have an equivalent meaning in that language due to the cultural differences. Therefore, when Patricia translated directly from her native language (Spa nish) to English we find in Patricia’s summary about deat h and dying an unidiomatic expr ession in the sentence that reads “it is a way to see death with another eyes”:

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93 Table 4-7. Patricia’s summary about death and dying course “Lif e Experience” is the title of an article r ead yesterday in class, which was published in a UF magazine. The topic is not usual. It is about a course imparted by The University of Florida where psychology students learn about life and death. Those classes are taught by Susan Bluck, an assistant professor in the Center for Geront ological Studies and the D epartment of Psychology. She says her goal with this uncommon course is letting people to know more about death and how this taboo topic can influence us; it also provides students to see the verb “to die” from another perspective, to understand better its meaning. Bluck th inks death is not a theme that we can avoid; that it will happen someday, and that is what she w ants to bring to her student s; she wants them to be ready in the future to talk and discuss it in an open way. I think, even though, this is an strange cour se and way to see death with another eyes, it is very helpful for those people who don’t like to talk about this important issue, for those who getting over the loss a loved has been hard, and for prepari ng students to affront future deaths even, your own. Honestly, I wouldn’t take it. I don’t think I need it because, first of all, I haven’t lost a close relative. Thank God!; and also because I am not afraid to talk about it, If I have to, I just do it; but I wouldn’t like to discuss this that often. I thin k is depressing. If I good major in Death and Dying, what job could I get? Perhaps in a Rehabilitat ion Center for people that are depressed because somebody close to her/him died. My opinion about death? I agree with Susan Bluck. In my opinion it will take place someday, early or late; it’s norma l if we were born; I see it as something fair and necessary, something that we shouldn’t be afraid of. [April 5, 2005] After reading Patricia’s phrase “I think, even though, this is a strange course and way to see death with another eyes,” Vanessa, coming from similar cultural background (Hispanic), stated that she unde rstood what Patricia meant to say through that phrase. However, she explained that the idiomatic Sp anish expression cannot be translated word for word into English: =>361 V: the first sentence of the second paragraph 362 “I think, even though, this is an strange course and way to see death with other eyes” 363 ‘with another eyes,’ it doesn’t make sense 364 like ‘this is a strange, a strange course in way to see deat h with other eyes’ ?? … 392 V: you try to put like to “see death w ith other eyes” that is what you mean? 393 Because we have that … 399 V: I understand if you say like sentence 400 “it is a way to see death with other eye” 401 that is perfect 402 but here “a strange course and way to see death with their eyes ” doesn’t make sense 403 P: that is right and I wanna like find a way that or writing the same idea …[3. writing discussion]

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94 In this dialogue, Vanessa understood Patricia’s idiom which was a direct translation from Spanish stating, “because we have that” (line 393). Vanessa also explained the reason for the ambiguity is the redundant use of the strangeness of the death and dying course through “it is a strange course,” and “seeing death with another eye” in her summary. As the students shared a like language and cu lture background, Vanessa was able to show Patricia the difficulties of this translation wh ile the rest of us were listening to their conversations. These challenges caused by translating idio ms from first language to English can also be experienced at a conceptual level. Even though the Asian participants did not mention any specific problems that they en countered with culturally embedded concepts during interviews or discussions, I consulted with one of the Chinese participants, and she identified a direct translation problem that occurred in Asian participants’ summaries. Table 4-8.KyungOk’s summary a bout death and dying course The article written by Staci Zava ttaro presents the UF cla ss dealt with the culture of death. Susan Bluck who is an assistant professor in the cente r for Gerontological Studies and the Department of Psychology teaches Death and Dy ing course at UF. In the class, she treats various aspects of death with objective concep ts which are already taught by UF professor emeritus Hannelore Wass. Al so, she talks about many experiences of death and how they affect on human's life with her students. Even some students' obituaries are dealt with duri ng class. She lets her stude nts think about death which nobody can shun and reflects on their own lives thorough this class. [April 5, 2005] In the summary of the ‘death and dying’ cour se, in order to express the instructor’s responsibility as ‘covering/teac hing the topics related to death and dying,’ KyungOk used the word “treat,” which is conceptually very similar to teaching in Chinese. Participants’ Explorations About Their Language Learning with a Linguistic Focus Through discussions students often make discoveries about themselves as individuals and learners in a student-centered learning envi ronment (Gambrell & Almasi, 1996). Also, in this study participants made explorations about their language learning

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95 via interacting with each other and learning together in a student-centered languagelearning environment. This section include s a theoretical compone nt to revise the findings related to linguistic patterns of discussions in reading and writing. The participants’ explorations about thei r own language learning through social constructionism are addressed under four subheadings: 1. becoming aware of language fossilizations, 2. learning new vocabulary a nd representation ways, 3. practicing whole language skills, and 4. role of English language prof iciency level in talking. Becoming Aware of Language Fossilizations Language fossilizations are de fined as “items, rules, and sub-systems that speakers of a particular native language will tend to keep in their interlanguage while acquiring a particular second language; that is, these aspe cts of the interlanguage are permanent and will never be eradicated for most second la nguage learners, regardless of the amount of explanation and instruction they can r eceive” (Omaggio, 1986 p. 274). However, through group discussions and group members’ scaffold ing, participants became more aware of their English language fossilizations such as subject-verb agreement: =>167 V: And with my writing 168 I think to realize more the problem with “have” and “had” 169 and with the words “everybody” and “everyone” 170 that for me it was like “everybody” it is group 171 and now it is clear that it has to be singular.[3.writing discussion interview] After these discussions, participants reported th at they started to pay more attention to grammar and structure issues they ha ve learned in their summaries. Language fossilizations are di fficult to correct for a nonnative speaker because a learner is used to making the same mistakes without realizing it (Elli s, 1994). Therefore, performing a self-evaluati on for a writing sample may not be enough for nonnative speakers. In this study, through three readi ng and writing group discussion processes,

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96 participants pointed out thes e language fossilizations and became more careful about syntactic structures and cultu rally embedded vocabulary use. Also, participants have reported that they have remembered the poi nts they discussed better than their ELI teacher’s corrections on their papers (Swa in, 2000; Swain & Lapkin, 1998; Izumi et al., 1999). Lee Knefelkamp (1995), refers to this st age of reasoning as “co urage in spite of.” For freshmen, responding critically to each other's writing is not the act of aggression they initially think it is—an interpretation th at grows directly out of their inability to temper relativism with commitment. For adva nced students the process of peer response becomes much more quickly an act of communi ty, of helping a classmate do the best job she can. Reading and responding to peers' writing requires interpersonal and personal resolution of multiple frames of reference (Spear, 2004). In this sense, collaborative writing courses at all levels provide an essential oppor tunity to practice becoming members of an intellectual, adult commun ity. In such a community, commitments to ideas and to the people who hold th em become equally important. Learning New Vocabulary and Representation Ways During this study participants worked colla boratively with each other to construct meaning of the reading texts and to write a comprehensible summary of the texts. As participants read each other’s writing, they have learned new ways of organizing their summaries, vocabularies, and phrases. =>192 I: With your papers, I think it is interesting to know about other people 193 how they did their summary, 194 what they how they put their ideas together. 195 And sometimes I think yours I like Yildiz’s 196 because I think it was most sm ooth to read then mine. 197 Because mine I just put I tr y the text was so difficult 198 so I try to summaries paragraph after paragraph 199 and like one sentence or two sentences per paragraph. 200 But I think your was more smooth to read.

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97 201 So, I think I don’t k now I don’t know how 202 what I can 203 how can I change mine 204 but I think …..think about something.[ 2. writing discussions interview] Seeing other group members’ writings enhanced participants’ own writing because participants saw different ways to present the same topic (Olson, 2003). Before this present study, students only tu rned in their summary to their teacher without sharing it with anyone in their readi ng and writing classes at the ELI. After their teacher read and corrected their work, he returned it to students. Through all these process, the only person who read their summary was their teacher. Therefore, participants never read any of their peers’ work. In this study, participants had a chance not only to share their writing with each other, but also to give suggestions to each other. During this process, participants scaffo lded and learned from each other. These interactions, which are essential in writing classes as Olson (2003) says, enabled student writers to think critically about how they were expressing what they thought in a new language. In addition to the benefits of shar ing their writings with group members, this activity also allowed group member to get to know each other better and satisfy social needs of affiliation, identification, and inclus ion as well as emotional and intellectual support. Purves and Hawisher (1990) and Ka plan (1988) state that every culture has its own writing style that differs from other cu ltures; however, during this study, by working together and becoming aware of different ways to present the same topic, students tried to find the appropriate expressions to express their culturally embedded concepts and ideas in English.

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98 Practicing Whole Language Skills According to Kern (2003), in the traditional English language teaching curriculum, reading, talking, and writing ar e relatively distinct phase s of a linear instructional sequence (see Figure 1). Readi ng and writing are left to st udents’ own learning although these are the most difficult part of language learning, where students need the most help (Kern, 2003). Figure 4-1. Traditional way of teaching read ing and writing through talking (Kern, 2003) Besides Kern (2003), also Olson (2003) note that reading and writing have been traditionally thought of and taught as “flip sides of the coinas opposites; readers decoded or deciphered language and writers decoded or produced written language” (p.249). Since the early 1980s, however, res earchers have increasingly noted the connections between reading and writi ng. One of the best ways to increase comprehension skills is learning where learners are working together to solve problems and create projects (Withrow, 2004). This “m eaning-constructive process of both writers and readers (and of course speakers and listene rs) are collaborative and social, dialogic and interactive” (Witte and Flach, 1994, p. 221) in which readers project themselves into the role of the writer, writers also project themselves into the roles of readers (Smith, 1988). Hence, talking combines reading and writing activities and it becomes the centre of learning (Figure 4-2).

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99 Figure 4-2. Reading and writing in this study This study was beneficial to the participants in terms of practicing their English language skills in a meaningful context. In this study reading and wri ting activities were combined through discussions. Having read ing discussions prior to writing summaries enabled participants to write their summaries “eas ier” (Gambrell & Almasi, 1996; Taylor & Beach, 1984). During the reading discussions la nguage learners produced their sentences through speaking and they tested their la nguage and grammar hypot hesis (Swain, 2000). Then, they wrote these sentences into thei r summaries. Talking about their experiences helped participants to put these experiences into their writing. As they have already produced these sentences while speaking dur ing the reading discussions, writing was easier for them according to the participants: =>254 G: I think that the reading discussion he lped me to like to understand the text 255 so it was much easier to write after 256 because I knew what the main idea is. 257 Like I had some like some half idea but I was not sure 258 so discussion with you guys helped me 259 you know 260 to make sure that I have like co rrect or incorrect way of thinking. [2. writing discussion interview] Additionally, reading discussions created a m eaningful context for writing discussions. As participants discussed the reading text s during the reading discussions, reading discussions provided the ba sic understanding of the text and reaching the similar

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100 understanding. Hence, when a group member wa s discussing about his or her writing, everybody in the group knew what that person tr ied to say. Therefore, it was easy to correct mistakes and keep the meaning the way one wanted to. =>583 V: for me like 584 it helped 585 because we read the article togeth er and we discuss it together and 586 so everyone had like the same point of view of the article 587 and we all knew like ba sically what we thought 588 so we could it understand better their wr iting. [3.writing discussion interview] Hence, reading discussions, writing summaries and writing disc ussions were connected to each other enabling participants to practice their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in a meaningful context. In this way, as Hillocks (1995) asserts that writing becomes: [A] recursive process that requires the rec onstruction of text alre ady written, so that what we add connects appropr iately with what has prec eded. That progress brings ideas not written into conjunction with what has been reconstructed, providing endless opportunities to recons ider ideas and reengage the processes that gave rise to them in the first place.(p. 47) This study enabled participants to have more time for talking and experiencing interactions from multiple ways (expert to novice, novice to novice) because their previous experience in the read ing and writing class, the teache r tended to talk most of the time and there was only one-way interact ion from teacher to students (teacher is the only authority in terms of his knowledge of English and students are there to learn). Hence, even though they were English langua ge learners, they could be an expert (collaborative, dominant/dominant, domi nant/passive, and ex pert/novice) while explaining a point they know to other particip ants within the conti nuum of equality and mutuality (Storch, 2002).

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101 Role of English Language Proficiency Level in Talking Even though sharing similar cultural background might help participants to understand each other’s meanings and to el aborate each other’s statements during the discussions, it did not guarantee collaboration between the participants. That is because the participants with lower level English langu age proficiency could not participate to the discussion or help the participant with a similar cultural background to complete and elaborate her or his statements as much as the higher proficient ones (Ellis, 1994). During the reading discussion about “Ameri can culture,” Gosia was explaining the contradiction between the read ing text, which argued that American lifestyle was based on pragmatism and her observations about dail y life of American culture through giving detailed explanations and examples. During Go sia’s talk, Isabel fre quently completed her sentences. For example, when Gosia was talk ing about gardening in her country (Poland) she paused for a moment in order to recall a vocabulary word. During this pause, Isabel provided the word, “fence,” which might be a common feature in European gardens, After hearing the word from Isabel, Gosia continued her statement: “fence, they can do whatever you want.” In another case, in or der to describe the length of the grass in gardens Gosia tried to explai n it through a kinesthetic move ment (allowing her arms and hands shows the length). At that moment, Is abel assisted Gosia by providing the word she was looking for—“perfect grass.” Through th ese contributions, two people (Gosia and Isabel) were collaborating so much that it seemed as if both of them knew the topic and were telling the same story to the rest of the group. Simila r to European participants, Vanessa and Patricia, both coming from Hi spanic cultures, co mpleted each other’s statements and sentences. Additionally, when Vanessa answered Patr icia’s questions, she also checked whether Patricia understood the point or not, whic h might be due to the fact

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102 that they were close friends and Vanessa’s language proficienc y was higher than Patricia. Among the Asian participants, KyungOk comple ted some of Masami’s sentences, while Masami could not complete many of KyungO k’s sentences due to Masami’s lower English language proficiency level. Although some of the group members’ language proficiency level was low, in faceto-face interaction surface-le vel deviations in grammar and pronunciation caused few misunderstandings during cross-cultural co mmunication (Saville,1989). Even gaps in vocabulary knowledge are successfully overcom e as students negotiate meaning through nonverbal means. Similar to Saville’s (1989) findings, in this study misunderstanding of surface linguistic forms was much more like ly to occur when forms contrast with a deeper-level systemic concept about how language works (such as how sounds, meanings, and symbols should correspond), or when they are similar to another form which the listener expects (or finds reasona ble in the context) to hear. Whenever expectations at higher levels were shared, verbal forms were often correctly decoded, even with very limited language proficiency. In turn, understanding of verbal forms often served as cues or scaffolding for interp reting intent, recognizing larger discourse structures organizing the communicativ e event, and drawing on the background knowledge necessary for understanding. The pr esent findings reinforce the recognition that “the Westernization of elites” (Saville, 1989) in various countries and the spread of formal schooling has created an internationa l middle class culture and school culture, which, despite national differences, exists across national borders. We may conclude from this that a shared linguistic code is neither necessary nor su fficient for successful

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103 communication, while shared cultural knowledg e is both necessary and often sufficient for communication to succeed (Saville, 1989). This chapter shows that participants’ prev ious English language education focused heavily on teaching and learning grammar and learning tasks, which favored separate language skills rather than the integra tion of reading, writing, speaking and listening activities. Due to the overemphasis of gram mar knowledge, participan ts viewed reading and writing activities as “grammar” rather than content. Additionally, participants’ previous learning tasks were teacher centered, limiting the benefits that these students would have received from more collabor ative assignments. Such benefits include enhanced vocabulary and phrase development, access to different points of view, possible elimination of language fossilizations, a nd an improved understanding of culturally embedded idioms and phrases. Through working in groups participants were able to overcome their limited knowledge on English by scaffolding each other while encoding words in reading by the help of their first language and their know ledge of English morphology and lexicon. Also, participants scaffolded each other in writing by helping each other to identify syntactically ambiguous sentences that arise from the differen ces in syntactic structures of their native languages and English. Collaborative learning finally, helps students to navigate the challenge of properly translat ing culturally embedded concepts and idioms from their first language into English. Hence, they have learned about writing from each other

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104 CHAPTER 5 SOCIAL PATTERN OF DISCUSSION Earlier in this research, th e linguistic pattern of readi ng and writing discussions was introduced to the reader. Participants’ overem phasis of grammatical points in reading as Word Attack in writing as giving suggesti ons about syntactic st ructures explained participants’ struggle to reach an underst anding of the texts through first solving linguistic problems. During this process, par ticipants’ English langua ge proficiency level affected their comprehension of morphol ogy, lexicon, and syntax. Participants’ L1 similarity with English had both advantages and disadvantages for the participants. While the similarity is an advantage when guessi ng unknown words (Word Attack) as cognates, similarities between L1 and L2 caused problem s, when participants with lower English proficiencies attempted direct translations from L1 into L2. In this chapter, I discuss the social patte rn of reading and writing discussions. I especially focus on how the Asian participan ts’ contributions to the group discussions were salient to the researcher and the othe r participants. In order to understand these effects of cultural difference on group discussion I will provide some possible explanations based on my field notes, observa tions, participants’ comments during the reading and writing interviews, a nd their individual journals. After outlining the cultural differences, which seemed to separate participants’ ways of contribution to the discussion, th e chapter then examines how participants bounded into a group from different cultural backgrounds. Through explaining how participants constructed a group bounding identity by considering themselves as

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105 foreigners learning English in the USA, I will discuss the roles they created based on their English language proficie ncy and their cultural backgro und. I argue that to serve the group to accomplish their goal to understand and learn English language and American culture they were able to bridge vast cultural difference. The chapter concludes with an analysis of how this social pattern of discussion helped participants to explore and evaluate their own language learning. Hence, under the title “Participants’ I will atte mpt to tie the data together and arrive at some tentative conclusions on how the interactions may s upport the understanding of reading text and writing comprehensible summaries of the text s and how the interactions may support L2 acquisition. Cultural Differences and Discussion Cultural differences influence participants ’ taking turns and engagement to the conversations (Glew,1998; Sato, 1990). These ar e two of the dynamics that I explore in this section. First, I will e xplain the preliminary findings of the social patterns of discussions. Then, further analysis will be used to explain who, where, and when participants contributed to di scussions, the content of th eir contributions, and possible cultural reasons for differing part icipation in the discussions. The preliminary findings of my observations listening to discussion cassettes and reading transcriptions, journals, and inte rviews showed that Asian participants contributed to the reading a nd writing discussions differently from the European and Hispanic participants. Compared to other participants, Asian participants were less talkative in the group. They only talked to answer the questions asked by the group members and often talked so softly that in many instances it was di fficult to hear and understand what they were saying. Also, they initiated fewer conversations. They became

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106 more talkative while discussing grammar point s that they knew and while explaining cultural information about their countries. After these general findings, I looked into transcripts and li stened to the cassettes to understand how conversations were initiated during the group discussions, focusing on when and where a participant initiated a conversation. When Asian participants were grouped with Hispanic participants, Vanessa was the most talkative person in the group. Whenever the group members decided whose summary they would discuss, Vanessa started first and explained every mistake sh e had found in that summary. Then, Patricia took her turn. KyungOk contributed to the conversation to corre ct mistakes or to question Vanessa or Patricia’s gra mmar. KyungOk contributed to the discussion by providing explanations of grammar rule s and terminology. Masami contri buted either when I asked her opinion directly, such as “Masami what do you think about this topic?” or when she found an ambiguity or a grammar issue and brought that to the group’s attention. When Asian participants were grouped with European ones, Gosia and Isabel started the discussion. However, the discussion format was different from the way the HispanicEuropean group discussed. In the previous group (Hispanic-European),participants discussed paragraph by paragraph rather than having one person that explained all the points while another one took turns. Even when grouped with Europeans, Asian participants–especially Masami—were not as talkative as Gosia and Isabel. Similar to their roles in the Hispanic group, Asian participants talked only to clarify the mistakes of Isabel’s and Gosia’s or to pr ovide assistance when they c ould not find a solution. Masami only talked when being asked.

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107 Tracking how conversations were initia ted during the group discussions showed that both European and Hispan ic participants were more active in deciding whose paper would be discussed next while the Asian par ticipants tended to keep quiet. Moreover, whether being grouped with European or Hi spanic participants, Asian participants’ behavior to contribute to the discussions was similar. Whenev er the language proficiency of the person in charge of correcting mist akes was not advanced enough to correct the mistake, KyungOk participated. Also, Masami rarely pointed out grammar mistakes and on those occasions, she did not offer an answer to the problem. In any case, Asian participants were always th e ones who passively followed th e pattern of th e discussions whereas both Europeans and Hispanics were th e ones who actively lead the discussions. As a participant of the disc ussions and as a researcher, I was able to show that Asian participants are different from othe r participants in terms of initiating few conversation topic and speaking softly, but I was puzzled with the reason(s) behind it. Why did they participate less? In order to examine this issue, I looked at the data analysis, considering the conten t of the participants’ talk during the discussions. Further analysis of the data showed that participants have differe nt perceptions about classroom talk, which were attributed to the culture th ey lived in. The pattern of participation among Asian participants highlighted the cultural di fference in the perception of classroom talk among the participants. Asian pa rticipants considered talking as a way of “teaching” something they know and were sure about it s truth, whereas for Hispanic and European participants’ talking was a way of “brainstor ming” and learning together. For that reason, participants belonging to th ese cultureswere expressing th eir thoughts more, and while they were thinking about the answer to grammar issues, they thought out-loud.

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108 In that sense, European and Hispanic pa rticipants talked wh enever they thought about something and started a conversation on the topic they wanted to learn through seeking opinions. Therefore, it seemed that European and Hispanic participants dominated the whole discussion. In both readi ng and writing activities, Asian participants complained that there were no experts who c ould answer their questions; they expressed frustration about the uncertainty of th e conversations as a pedagogical methodology. However, both Hispanic and European partic ipants were aware that the purpose of the discussion was a collaborative learning t echnique, and the purpose of sharing assumptions and possibilities about unknown words and clearing points about the text was a method for problem solving. As Asian participants considered discu ssions as a way of “teaching one another” rather than brainstorming or finding an answer all together, they did not participate in the discussion unless they were really sure of its truth. Reynolds (2004) asserts that people from European cultures interpret silence in negative ways, whereas those from the Asian cultures tend to interpret silence as respectfu l and thoughtful. Due to their cultural values stating that “think ten times and speak one time” (line 235), Asian participants only participated when they were sure that they knew the exact answer to the problem, such as in providing definitions, grammar rules, or information about their culture. For example, KyungOk only explained the words or the grammar points she knew, and information about her country. The other Asian participant, Masami, spoke when I asked questions to her or when she was very curious about a topic. Also, instead of thinking out-loud, Asian part icipants just said the sentence that they thought was the right answer to the pr oblem. Asian participants’ transcriptions

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109 showed no use of phrases like “maybe “or “it mi ght be like this.” These phrases show the possibility as a brainstorming activity (Gee, 2005), which were used very frequently by other participants. In many cases finding th e right solution in th eir mind on their own took a longer time and other participants came up with other answers, and as they were thinking out-loud, their suggesti ons were accepted by the group. Additionally, as Asian participants cons idered discussions as a teaching method rather than simply sharing ideas, they di d not argue about suggestions whereas both European and Hispanic participants argued, and asked more questions about the reason for the suggestions in order to understa nd the reason behind it. However, Asian participants accepted the corrections and s uggestions, without any question, even though they did not like the suggestions. The possible explanation for Asian particip ants not to discuss the answer further with other participants might be based on th eir own perception of the classroom talk “if one is not sure, she does not attempt to answ er it. So, if one gives a suggestion, from Asian participants’ perspective, it gives that person authority, an expert position unlike European and Hispanic particip ants’ perspective in which sugge stions are also for further discussions and learning. Sec ondly, the person who gives a suggestion is considered as an “expert” by Asian participants and having an “ex pert’s opinion” initiates a social role in which being silent represents respect for aut hority. If a suggestion is discussed, it would appear to challenge and ques tioning the authority who made the discussion, which is equated with disrespect and thus unproductive because cultural norms privilege harmony, especially in Japanese culture (Fox 1994).

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110 The possible reasons for Asian participants’ hesitancy to talk and the differences in their perception of classroom talk are influen ced by the cultural and social discourses that frame their values and the social roles th ey have learned. These social and cultural discourses are broken into four major secti ons: “Hierarchy in Society,” “Directness vs. Indirectness,” “Education System ,” and “Religion.” I chose to focus on these four areas because together they represent social patter ns among participants, and the interview data revealed that these areas were salient to the participants. Hierarchy in Society Social hierarchies played a role in particip ants,’ especially the Asian participants,’ hesitancy to participate. Asian participants stated that Asian cultu re’s influence on their hesitancy to talk in the reading and writi ng discussions. KyungOk states, “my culture is listening always almost listening what other’s say” (line 404), and Masami was also not used to “tell[ing] her opinion in public” (line 345). For that reason, during the group discussions, KyungOk states, “I really express my own feeling and my opinion so like this like this activity. Actually it is not nor mal. Sometimes it is not comfortable for me but compared to first time, now it is bette r” (KyungOk, line 398-404) They were trying to adapt to a new system, which required them to share their opinions and become more talkative instead of bein g a passive listener. Coming from individualistic culture (societies that value individualism), both European and Hispanic participants were unfam iliar with the discourse in the collectivist, high power distance cultures, in whic h people recognize and accept a hierarchy (including within families) based on factors su ch as age, gender and family background (Kagitcibasi, 1994; Fitz Gerald, 2003; Reynolds,2004; Kang, 2004). During the interviews, participants discussed the role of hierarchy in Asian culture.

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111 Stanza: hierarchy in Asian culture 398 O: for me telling my opinion to others 399 for the first time, like first, my first not comfortable for me, but it is better now 400 Always in my case like 401 after others telling some thing I listen to that 402 and I tell my opinion. 403 Y: why? 404 O: yeah, my culture is listening al ways almost listening what other’s say 405 G: so you usually like it is the older people 406 O: yeah yeah 407 G: and after 408 O: yeah I think so 409 G: but like usually the men or 410 like you are a woman 411 so the first people that they ar e talking is like older people 412 and like maybe men and on the end 413 just like this? 414 O: yeah yeah 415 Y: so, there is a kind of hierarchy? 416 O: yeah but it changing, 417 it is changing 418 but long time ago, it is more like y eah older people and men and women 419 but it is now changing. According to KyungOk, even though it is a changing process now, Asian traditions give priority of talking to elde rly people first, men (as a gender issue) second, and then women. Hierarchy in Asian cu lture defines taking turn s in a conversation by both emphasizing giving importance to what to sa y (“think ten times, talk once”) and to consider whose turn to talk. Even though European participants also gave importance to the traditions such as being more silent and listening to others, Gosia could break the traditional rules–she became more talkative–when she came to the USA: Stanza: being in a differe nt cultural environment =>385 G: and but maybe because of that we usually are like quiet 386 and I don’t talk 387 and I am here, like now 388 I don’t have to respect the rules that we have there 389 so I can express my thought

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112 390 so maybe this way.[2. reading discussion interview] Gosia built a new identity (an intercultura l identity) for herself “in here” (Shehadeh, 2006), in the USA, which is different from her identity in her native country, Poland, refered to as “there” (line 387388). While she was in her coun try she had to “respect the rules” (line 388), which required students to be “usually quiet” (line 385). Through obeying the rules, she id entified herself with “them” of her native country, Poland, using “we have there” (line 388). Gosia’s identi ty changed depending on whether she was in Poland or in the USA. As a result, she becam e more talkative in the USA where she did not follow the traditions. The possible reason for not applying this in tercultural identity and change talking behavior in Asian participants unlike European participant, Gosia, is also another cultural issue: “loosing face” in public is a most hurtful issue in Asian culture (Barnlund, 1989). Asian participants do not want to be hurt a nd they do not want others to be that way either, which is also a charac teristics of a collective soci ety (Kiesling & Paulston, 2005; Landis et al., 2004) rather than a society that values individuality. As a participant of this group discussions and as a researcher who has already worked with Asian students and also as a grad uate student with seve ral Asian friends in the same program I have more experience w ith Asian people and culture. While at the beginning of the study European and Hispanic participants were complaining about the participation of the Asian students in the disc ussions, which also made them to take less and slower taking turns during th e discussions with longer silent moments, I realized that European and Hispanic participants did not actually know Asian part icipants even though they have been taking the same class for almo st three months. I had realized that as

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113 having both European and Asian background (T urkey), during my first meeting with Asian people four years ago, I held similar cu ltural values (see the subjectivity statement in chapter 3). As I know more about Asia n people and culture, I understood why Asian people are less talkativeness during the classr oom discussions. Similarly, both European and Hispanic participants become more aw are about Asian culture during this study. The acceptance and understanding of the different cu ltural values are important discussions while learning language in a group. Directness vs. Indirectness Directness and indirectness are another se t of cultural values that influence participants’ contribution to group discussions. Asian culture is more indirect compared to European and Hispanic cultures (Fox, 1994; Reynolds, 2004; Kim, 2004; Suedo, 2004; FitzGerald, 2003). Therefore, Asian partic ipants typically do not refuse other participants’ suggestions during the group di scussions, These are the incidences that Asian participants expect to have a negative response from others, Asian participants often e xpressed “no” in indirect ways while European and Hispanic participants expressed “no” directly during the reading and writing discussions. The reason for expressing “no” indirectly was that according to Asian culture, which values people who are “easy going” (line 429 ) and “respect other people” (line 435), is that it is considered “rude” to use a “ver y strong answer” (line 432). For that reason, instead of directly expressing “ no” they always said “yes,” and yet they did not mean it. Hence, they avoid confrontation. This wa s very hard for European and Hispanic participants to understand the real meaning because they were more direct to express “no” (line 437). Additionally, there are several ways to express “no” indirectly in their culture (Kincaid, 1980). For instance, accord ing to Masami and KyungOk, one should

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114 “smile” as an acceptable behavior (line 435) a nd say “oh yes, yes” (line 435) or start a sentence with “I feel like” (436). Also, one could say “yes” directly, “maybe, ok.” and “ah yes, but” (line 446) structures. All of thes e structures were the indication of meaning “no” indirectly, as the politen ess rule in their cu lture (lines 441-442). However, Hispanic participants, especially Vanessa has lear ned when KyungOk said “yes” meant “no” through some experiences. During the group discussions, there were some moments when KyungOk said ‘yes’ when she wanted to say ‘no,’ and Vanessa directly said “I know you, you don’t like, but you never say no.” As Asian participants could not express “no” directly, they accepted all suggestions during the group discussions and considered these suggestions later on their own. For that reason, as a researcher I found it salient to me that Asian participants did not engage in the discussions to refute the suggestions during the reading and writing discussions wh ereas European and Hispanic participants argued and discussed the suggestions before they accepted it and clearly stating which parts of the suggestions they did not like. Secondly, as Asian culture is more indirect than European and Hispanic cultures in the group. Asian participants were very hesita nt to point out othe r participants’ ‘bad points’ in their summaries. For that reason, th ey were not very talk ative especially while finding the mistakes, criticizing or te lling anything wrong to one another. Asian participants were very sensitiv e about other participants’ thoughts about themselves and their comments, which was al so confirmed by European and Hispanic participants because losing face in a collective society is more shameful than individualistic society (Bar nlund, 1989; Craig, 1994; Samovar & Porter, 2001). Asian participants thought that whenev er they showed others’ ‘bad points,’ other participants

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115 would get angry with the Asian participants because in many collectivist cultures, people tend to conceive events in terms of multiple co ntingencies and to believe that it is best to live in harmony with the environment rather than try to change it (FitzGerald, 2003). In that, how being perceived by others was very important for the Asian participants and they wanted to live in harmony with others instead of pointing out the ‘bad points’ and discussing with other particip ants. For that reason, Asian participants seemed “more reserved,” “more respectful,” and giving im portance to “perfection” [without making any mistakes] (line 35). However, European and Hi spanic participants were more comfortable pointing out mistakes and making mistakes. This was due to perspective differences between the participants: for European and Hi spanic participants, one could learn through their mistakes (line 38-42); in that se nse making mistakes was acceptable and good for learning (line 708); For Asian pa rticipants pointing out mistak es or being pointed out was shameful. Through comparing her cultural view of discussions with other participants’ views, Masami commented that they were “d ifferent” (line 381) a nd other participants were “honest” (line 383) as they told all th e points. In Japanese culture, according to Masami, one should tell only good points direct ly, but not the “bad points” because it meant criticizing—something one should not do. Therefore, having discussions, especially writing discussions, in which “b ad points” were discussed was a new and challenging learning style for Masami. Due to the differences between Eastern and Western social and cultural perceptions in which making mistakes or pointing out mistakes is considered very sensitive (Reynolds, 2004). Asian partic ipants were hesitant to point out problems in other

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116 participants’ summaries or comments during the reading and writing discussions they did neither want to be hurt nor want others’ feelings to be hurt. Education System Another possible explanation for Asian part icipants’ being less talkative might be related to the Confucian educat ion systems in Japan and Korea. First, Asian participants believe that “learning is listening and teach ing is teacher’s lecture.” During a class, lectures occupy more time than student-talk, and a teacher is considered an absolute authority in terms of knowle dge expertise and being respons ible for making decisions for all the teaching and learning processes. Secondly, classroom /group time is for everyone; so, they believe that insignificant talk is wa ste of valuable class time. Therefore, Asian participants were very selective and sensitive about when to talk and what to say. Related to this issue, Asian pa rticipants were very se nsitive about how they will be considered by other students and what their pe ers think about Asia n participants in a classroom. Due to this oversensitivity about how being conceived by their peers, Asian students became more hesitant to talk not only in a gr oup, but also in a classroom environment. Firstly, Asian participants were not used to student-centered classroom environment. Asian participants stated that “i n our education I think we used to listen not tell our opinions like in schools, all during sc hool, class time just teacher talks and we listen” (lines 47-50). In that sense, the teach er was considered as a person who transferred knowledge to students and stude nts were considered as pa ssive learners who were supposed to receive all the information. Hence, the teaching and learning process was in one direction: from a teacher to students. Fo r that reason, they “don’t have discussion in my [their] country” (Masami, line 373) a nd KyungOk emphasized the dominance of a teacher-talk over their talk (st udent-talk) using the phrase “jus t teacher talks” in line 50.

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117 Also, by saying “we don’t have discussions in my country” (line 373) Masami indicated that Japanese culture gave more importance to the authority figure, which prevented having discussions or arguing with the au thority figure (Fox, 1994). As a result, Asian participants were not used to expressing their own opinions and thoughts about any topic in the class and as they considered their t eacher as the only eminent person, they did not consider themselves capable of being re sponsible for their learning process or informative enough to scaffold each other in learning which reflects the Asian learners’ reluctance to accommodate to American ways of speaking in the classroom (Sato, 1981). Additionally, in the teacher-dominant education system in their country, the questions the teacher asked had only one “correct” answer unlike the student-centered education system in which multiple answers might be possible for one question. For Asian participants, it was also a new perspective that they should ge t used to while participating to the discussions in the American educa tion system at the ELI and this study. This adaptation process has also caused pressure a nd hesitation for them, which affected their participation in the reading and writing group discussions: Stanza: pressure =>52 M: so 53 for us there are some pressure. 54 It is only one answer 55 but if your ask one question we will discuss and 56 you have many answers from many people 57 so it is 58 I think it is different. 59 O: so, asking question or expressing our opi nion is hard for me [2.reading discussion interview] Masami explained the differences in edu cation systems by comparing the Asian and American education systems from line 54 to 58. According to this comparison, for Asian teaching and learning methods “there is only one answer” to a question whereas in the

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118 American teaching and learning way (i.e. ELI) or at least in this study, “you have many answers from many people so it is I think it is different” (line 56-58). The other point about educa tion system is that Asian participants were very sensitive about what their peers’ thought a bout Asian participants’ comments and they were afraid of being embarrassed in front of their peers because of their “incorrect answers” to the questions. Stanza: pretentiousness =>407 O: in school like if someone as k something to the teacher, you say 408 we think that student is “ah he try to show off or he try to 409 G: yeah we have the same 410 O: yeah 411 we think yeah 412 we never ask question and everything opinion. 413 M: me too. 414 Usually I don’t express my opinion or opinion to other people. 415 I am not used to talk about students 416 so it is difficult for me 417 but I respect like talk pe ople who talk about anything 418 but it is very difficult. 419 O: sometimes during the class time someone ask a question to teacher 420 or they talk about their opinion 421 like Gosia, Vanessa 422 M: except Asian people 423 O: yeah except Asian. [2.reading discussion interview] According to KyungOk, an important reason for her silence in the classroom is her friends’ opinions about the students who as k questions. These students are considered arrogant or “showing off” based on her prev ious school experiences. This goes against Asian cultural values of modesty, and hum ility (KyungOk, line 86). As Asian participants gave importance to unity in the group, they did not want to be separated which is indicated through several proverbs and sayings in their culture: “The nail that stands out will get hammered” (Japan), “Behind an able man there are always other able men” (Korea), and “The sheep that’s separated from the flock will be eaten by the wolf”

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119 (Turkey)” (Reynolds 2004). Therefore, Asian pa rticipants did not ask or make comments in class. In line 408, KyungOk identified herself with people who considered the talkative students as “showing off.” As identifying herself with that group, KyungOk emphasized her values, which include “never ask que stion and everything opinion” in line 412, emphasizing the word “never.” From line 414 to 415 Masami expressed through her statement, “I am not used to talk about,” that students have no opportunity to have a discussion and are not given assignments th at might have many possible alternatively correct answers. For that reason, expressing he r ideas was difficult for her. In order to show her appreciation to the people who were talkative, she says in line 417: “but I respect like talk people who talk about anything,” which indicates Masami gave importance to being talkative but she was not used to it. Stanza: internal obstacles =>424 O: I think I try to 425 I want to 426 but so in my mind 427 G: it is like some barrier like wall that you can’t jump through 428 O: for my it’s hard to [2. reading discussion interview] Like Masami, KyungOk also valued a talkativ e person in the classroom as seen in line 425. However, it was difficult for her to accomplish this even though she “tries” (line 424). Gosia in line 427 helped Asia n participants in expressing themselves on their behalf showing empathy that she understood their position. As Asian participants gave much importanc e to what others think about them, they were very fond of their privacy compared to other participants in the classroom. Gosia gave the following example: Stanza: privacy at school =>762 G: and the thing that I think I noticed like 763 they always like they have a question

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120 764 they always go to teacher and 765 for me 766 V: in private 767 G: it is like private, 768 you know private 769 just go next 770 like not like l oud question……..and 771 never like 772 I don’t remember anybody ask for like what do you think. [1.reading discussion interview] Asian participants preferred asking their ques tion to the teacher in “private,” “not like loud” voice but very softly (line 763-764 and 770) She stated that they did not ask these questions to anyone in the class. Coming from a collectivist culture Asian participants consider classroom time for everyone; theref ore, they do not want to waste the time which mean for everyone. Through using “nev er” (line 771), she emphasized her point that none of the Asian participan ts asked questions to Gosia or any other student in class. Asian students might prefer to ask their ques tion to the teacher eith er because in their education system the teacher was the authority figure (teacher knows the right or the best answer) through a teacher-centered learning en vironment or asking a peer who might be an embarrassment for them, because how they were perceived by others was a big concern for the Asian participants. The teacher at the ELI did not use app lied group or student-centered activities; instead he used lecturing and questions to students. So, even though the ELI is an American education institute and the readi ng and writing teacher is American, his method is similar to the participants ’ other language teachers in thei r home countries. Therefore, learning from other students is a new concept for the participants. During this study, Asian participants became aware of their poten tial to teach to and learn from other group members, instead of learning only from a teacher. Considering themselves and other

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121 group members as “experts” was a noticeable ch ange for the Asian pa rticipants for their adaptation to the student-centered language. Their self-confidence increased enough such that they were able to cont ribute to meaning making pro cesses, language learning through group discussions and to expre ss their own opinions about topi cs rather than just looking for the one “right answer.” As a result, As ian participants became more talkative over time. This phenomenon was noticed by European and Hispanic participants in the group. Also, as a group Asian participants started to ask questions about problems that they could not solve. Participants indicated that through group di scussions they were asking questions that came to their mind and it was more effective than in a teacher-centered learning environment at the ELI, because they often had some questions to ask their teacher but did not. Group work enabled them to ask questions to each other immediately and ask the ones they could not solve as a group to the teacher. Also, they said that they were motivated to learn the answer of the questions they could not solve as a group. Religion Participants’ religious beliefs and values as a discourse also might influence the participation to the group discussions in this study. The reading texts participants read and were supposed to discuss during the re ading discussions might include culturally sensitive topics that participants, i.e. Asian participants, were reluctant to talk about. For example, in Asian culture talking about death and dying was a taboo whereas the same topic was one of the everyday conversation topi cs in other cultures. According to Masami and KyungOk, in Korean culture people “rarely talk about like this topic like death and dieing” (KyungOk, line 426 and Masami, line 428). KyungOk used “rarely” to refer that this was not one of the common topics that pe ople talked about. Therefore, she was “not familiar” with talking about how and when one would die (lines 427-429). As KyungOk

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122 was “not familiar” with the topic, she c ould not understand the function of death and dying course offered at the University of Flor ida and she really had difficulty in believing and understanding why people thought about thei r death and wrote about how they would die as their own imaginary obituary in the third reading text. Hence, KyungOk’s understanding of the reading text has cha nged after group discussion by the help of Vanessa’s explanations whos e culture talked about deat h and dying (line 434-435). In order to emphasize the change in her understa nding of the text, K yungOk stated that the group discussion “open my mind to think about this” (line 435). Masami added that death and dying “may be discussed at school a little bit” (Masami, line 482 ), but they “don’t have any [religious] groups,” indicating that th e role of religion in Japanese people’s life was not as much integrated as religious in stitutions or groups as in Honduran culture (Masami, line 480). Hence, both Masami’s and KyungOk’s statements indicated that talking about death was not common in As ian culture no matter which religion people believed (Atheism, Buddhism and Christian ity). KyungOk showed the conflict between her culture and her relig ious belief, Christian ity: “in my culture it is hard to talk about death, but, in, for my religion [Christianity] talking about death, even though [my culture did not]” (line 512-515). On the other hand, accord ing to Hispanic participants, in their culture talking about death was very common. According to Vanessa, talking about death was part of life in her culture “Catholic people talk” (line 452), which made them value the moment (line 448). Also, through giving an example to build a significance of appreciating the moment, Vanessa told her pr evious experience of losing her grandfather indicating that death was the pa rt of life and could happen to anyone anytime: “it is an everyday thing like I always thi nk about it. It could happen to me, to my parents. I always

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123 think of that possibility” ( line 439-441). According to Vane ssa, her thought of death and being religious person was rela ted to Vanessa’s parents who were very religious people and they went to church and group meetin gs every week (line 516). Like Vanessa, Patricia also stated that in her culture pe ople talked about death and dying “it is not like taboo or something like that we can’t talk about (376), “for us death is normal” and “someday you will gonna die” (line 373 and 374), so “[talking about death] it is necessary” (line 377) “but [they don’t talk] not very often” (l ine 457) as in the case of Vanessa. The reason for not talking about d eath in Venezuela as often as Vanessa’ s culture, according to Vanessa, was that Venezuel a was not a very strict Catholic country as Honduras was (line 468) and Vanessa’s pa rents were participat ing to the religious group, but Patricia’s did not (lin e 460). Hence, for both Vaness a and Patricia, attending to a Catholic school, their parents, the religious groups, and thei r religious beliefs were in favor of talking about death and dying and ther efore, they were more talkative about this topic compared to Asian participants. As a change, gradually Asian participants became more talkative and open to share their ideas with the ot her members of the group about death and dying. Stanza: become more talkative as a change =>337 O: in my culture even though we have own opinion about some topic 338 we rarely talk about their opinion in public 339 just keep in my mind and writing 340 so this every week discussion we have to tell my opinion, our opinions 341 so, first time I am not really accustomed to telling my opinion. 342 But time go go go the last week right 343 some like us Asian people, 344 Vanessa and Patricia 345 I think in my opinion 346 Patricia and Vanessa like they are more 347 V: open 348 O: Yeah express their opinion them us. 349 So, I influenced I got influen ced from Vanessa and Patricia

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124 [3. reading discussion interview] KyungOk coming from Korean culture stat ed that due to her culture, unlike Vanessa and Patricia, she was not used to e xpress her opinions to ot hers “in public”(line 337-339). Therefore, it took time for her to adapt to this new way of learning, which required participating to the discussions (lines 341 and 342). KyungOk was able to explain what was in her mind to the group (line 345) but compared to Vanessa and Patricia, she was not “much open” as they were (line 346-347). Also, KyungOk stated that she was “influenced” by Patr icia and Vanessa (line 349). From Cultural Differences to Group Bounding While at the beginning the participants’ cu ltural backgrounds created differences in their participation to discussi ons, in time despite those differe nces, participants created a group bounding. While cultural differences creat e separateness among participants, later those differences became advantages for part icipants to enhance their learning. As a group, participants united which positively infl uenced their English language learning. In this section, through applying James Paul Gee’ s (2005) discourse analysis to the data, I will explain how participants developed a group identity and roles as a member of the group during the reading a nd writing discussions. “Discourses” with a capital “D,” refers to “di fferent ways in which we humans integrate language with non-language “stuff,” such as different ways of thinking, acting, interacting, valuing, feeling, beli eving, and using symbols, tool s, and objects in the right places and at the right times so as to enact and recognize different identities and activities, give the material world certain m eanings, distribute social goods in a certain way, make certain sorts of meaningful conne ctions in our experi ence, and privilege certain symbol systems and ways of know ing over others” (Gee, 2005, p.7). In other

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125 words, Discourses with a capital “D,” relate s one’s identity, which shapes one’s way of speaking, thinking, and behaving in th e world so as to take on a particular role that others will recognize as being themselves (Alv ermann, 2000). Meanwhile, “discourse” with a lower case “d” refers to “how language is used “on site” to enact ac tivities and identities” (Gee, 2005, p. 7). In other words, language alone is “little d.” For the discourse analysis James Paul Gee (2005) studies li nguistic structures (micro-lev el tools) such as function words, content words, information, lines and stanzas; discourse analysis also examines social structures (macro level tools) such as six task building (building significance, building activities, building id entities, building relationshi ps, building politicsthe distribution of social goods -, building connections and building significance for sign systems and knowledge); for more detail on discourse analysis see Chapter 3. Group-bounding Identity as “Foreigners” The group formed an identity that can be described as: “we are foreigners in the USA.” This group identity indicates three overlapping phenomena: fi rst, participants considered themselves as “foreigners” living in the USA; second, they saw their culture and values as different from the American culture that surrounded them; third, they saw being a ‘foreigner’ as an advantage for them. Even though participants have lived in the U.S. for a period of time, all of the participants considered themselves as “for eigners,” “here” in the U.S.—the place that they came to learn English bette r. Through this identity, they shaped their group identity as “foreigners” who came to the USA to lear n English. Saying, “we are foreigners here,” participants created an in-group that they perceived as being different from the people and culture of the United States. Stanza: Being a foreigner as a group

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126 =>223 G: I think my experiences helped me a lot 224 because we are here (0.2) 225 and we are foreigners 226 so we have some ideas some some, some perspectives 227 and maybe it is not (0.1) 228 It just helped me (0.2) to realize that I am not alone 229 that other people th at see that (0.3) 230 even though there are global world people are different in other countries 231 and I don’t (0.2) I am not the only one who feels that this country is different than 232 ours .[2.writing discussion interview] In this study, participants de veloped the group identity as “foreigners” in the USA (line 225), and the “we” referred to a group ident ity (Reynolds, 2004), wh ich includes all the participants enrolled in this study (building identity, Gee, 2005). As Gosia identified herself with other group members who were coming from different cultural backgrounds, she felt that she belonged to this group: “I am not alone” in line 228 (building identity, Gee, 2005). The characteristic of this group with which Gosia associated herself was a group who “feels that this country (U.S.) is different” from their own country in line 230 and 231. Gosia supported her statement about the difference of U.S. fr om other countries through stating that people coming from differe nt countries agreed with Gosia (line 230 to 23, building significance, Gee, 2005). Res earch suggests that the extent to which learners acculturate depends on social a nd psychological distance (Schumann, 1978a, 1978b, 1978c; Ellis, 1994). Social distance refe rs to the degree to which individual learners become members of the target-la nguage group and, therefore, achieve contact with them. Psychological distan ce concerns the extent to wh ich individual learners are comfortable with the learning ta sk and constitutes, therefore, a personal rather than group dimension (Ellis, 1994). One possible explanation for the reason why participants consider themselves as “foreigners” is that American culture differed from the

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127 participants’ cultures based on participants’ ex periences and observations in the USA. According to Gosia, American culture differed from European culture in several aspects: Stanza: giving importance to cultural activities =>229 G: god! (laughter) 230 my head is empty (laughter) (0.3) 231 For instance that (0.1) we think 232 some of us think (0.2) that people here 233 they try to show off what they have 234 and they spend too much time on doing (0.2) like (0.1) not many important things 235 (0.2) like (0.1) for example (0.2) like culture 236 which is in European countries very important 237 Help me Isabel (looks at Isabel in the group)[2.reading discussion interview] Compared to European people, American pe ople did not give much attention to the “important things” such as cultural activiti es (connection building, Gee, 2005) in line 234 and 235. In order to emphasize the difference in that sense, Gosia used “very important” in line 236 to explain the importance given to cultural activities in Europe (building significance, Gee, 2005). Toward s the end of her comment, Go sia asked for help, “help me Isabel” in line 237, from Isabel who wa s coming from another European country, Switzerland. Gosia’s behavior indicated that she was alrea dy aware of the similarity between herself and Isabel: they were both coming from Europe (identity building, Gee, 2005). However, Gosia was also aware of possible differences because referring to European culture she stated th at cultural events were impor tant in “European countries” (line 236) in a plural form of “country” (G ee, 2005), meaning that there were several countries in Europe and they shaped the Eu ropean culture (buildi ng significance, Gee, 2005). Another difference between European and American culture was respecting elders. While explaining how much they respect elders in Europe rather than her country, she puts Europe, Asian countries and Amer ica in a hierarchical scale.

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128 Stanza: levels of respecting elders =>258 G: very important for me 259 I think (0.2) all of us (0.3) we respect older people (0.1) like (0.1) 260 maybe European country th ey don’t respect so much (0.2) like Asian countries 261 but still respect (0.1) 262 more respect than here [2. reading discussion] According to her, Asian countries paid the mo st respect to elders, European people were the second and Americans were the ones who pa id the least respect to elders from line 260 to 262, which represents building connect ion (Gee, 2005). As a difference between American culture, her culture and other partic ipants’ culture, Gosia in line 258 introduced the topic (respecting elders) with a statement that showed it was an important difference, “very important for me,” which represen ts building significan ce (Gee, 2005). Through line 259 and 261, Gosia talked on behalf of th e group (building identity, Gee, 2005) “I think all of us, we respect older people” ( line 259) and through us ing “all of us” and “we,” she identified herself w ith the group members, with us (building identity, Gee, 2005). She so much identified herself with th e group, not as a Eur opean personality but as a group member, that in line 260, she kept herself separate from the European people even though she was one of them, referring them as “they,” but not as “we,” which suggests identity building (Gee, 2005). In addition to cultural differences between the American and participants’ culture, how the American culture was represented abroad and the lifestyle in the U.S. were also different. Masami stated what was said a bout American culture as a common knowledge and what was happening in real life was different based on her living experiences in the US. Stanza: buses are on time or not =>294 M: for example American (0.2) it is more normal 295 but we are foreigners

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129 296 so (0.2) we think it is strange for us 297 it must be on time (0.3) 298 but for American people it is ok (0.3) it is late (0.4) 299 They don’t care too much [2. reading discussion] For instance, even though in th e reading text American peopl e were represented as people who gave very much importance to being on time, according to Masami sometimes buses were late, which was an ac tivity building through giving an example (Gee, 2005), but it was not a concern for American people even th ough in the text states that being on time was considered as an American characteris tics. According to Masami, “American it is more normal” (line 294) than it is for Japane se people. However, as a foreigner who has already lived in Japanese society which gave more importance to being on time, “for us” (line 296), Masami and others lik e her, “it is strange for us ” (line 296) if bus was late which “must be on time” (line 297) (building connection, Gee, 2005). Through using “they” in her statement, “they don’t care too much,” she isolates herself from American culture (building identity, Gee, 2005) in line 298-299. Also, in line 299, “they don’t care too much,” there is negativity in this st atement shown in the word “too” (building significance, Gee, 2005). Masami used it to s how the contrast betw een what the article states her observations of Ameri cans living their everyday life. According to the participants “being a ‘foreigner’” in the USA is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. G ee (2001) describes a process in second language acquisition where two Discourses can interf ere with one another; aspect s of one Discourse can be transferred to another Discourse, as one can transfer a grammatical features one language to another. In that, “we can also talk about a literacy being libera ting ("powerful") if it can be used as a "meta-language” (a se t of meta-words, meta-values, metabeliefs)=Liberating literacies can recons titute and resituate us” (Gee, 2001 p.214).

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130 According to Gosia, as they were ‘forei gners’ they already ha ve their home culture, which gave them a perspective to understand the American culture and the reading texts better as all group members were coming from different cultural background and have different experiences with the US culture that might enhance the text’s meaning. Stanza: being a foreigner =>224 G: because we are here (0.2) 225 and we are foreigners (0.1) 226 so (0.2) we have some ideas (0.3) some some, some (looks for the right word) 227 perspectives [2.reading discussion interview] According to Gosia, considering herself as a foreigner in the U.S., being a foreigner gave her a power because, “we” referring to other international students in the group, they have “some perspectives” about America and American culture whereas American people only have one perspective about th emselves in line 225 and 226 (connection building, Gee, 2005). In that sense, particip ants’ cultures enhanced their learning about American culture by making comparisons to “our” culture in line 230 (relationship building, Gee, 2005) because “a meaning only re veals its depths once it has encountered and come into contact with another foreign meaning” (Bakhtin 1986, p. 7). Participants’ Roles in the Group When participants coming from different cultural backgrounds bounded with each other despite those cultural differences, participants operate in the group through adopting some roles. Therefore, during the re ading and writing discussions, participants had different roles. These roles were not give n to them at the beginning of the activity, but developed during the disc ussion processes based on thei r language proficiency level and cultural background knowledge. Also, these roles were not sta tic and all of the participants enrolled into these roles at so me times during the discussions. These roles are as follows: Grammar analyst, Cultur al attach, and Group activator.

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131 Grammar analyst During the reading and writing discussions, As ian participants were called “expert on grammar points” by both European and Hisp anic participants. For example, during the last writing discussion, partic ipants were giving feedback to Vanessa about her summary about the death and dying course text. Table 5-1. A part from Vanessa’s summa ry about the death and dying course: Even though I have this special interest in psychology, I think this course could be helpful to everyone. Death is something we all have in common, and sooner or later will touch our life in a special way. Everyone must seek ways and prepare themselves to overcome this type of experience. Last year I lost my grandparents (my mom’s parents). I think for all my family was very hard to deal with. But in my case, even though it was something I knew it could happen, was like a shock and it really mark a difference in my life. Still today I always th ink about that moment and the hard it was to say goodbye. I am really sure they are better there (heaven) than here but my selfishness make me feel sad for not having them with me. I think life is like a challenge, ever y day we had lived is a won battle. For me, since that sad experience, has helped me realized and treasure every little thing a have. I will neve r forget that moment, not even relieve the pain I feel, but I’m trying to be a better person and give in life all what I can to the people I love. [April 5, 2006] Masami was pointing out the missing subject pos ition as underlined in the part above in Vanessa’s summary during the discussion: =>1262 M: second paragraph (0.5) this people ‘but in my case even though it was’(reads from a summary) 1263 I mean (0.4).”they have” 1264 what is subjec t? 1265 V: ‘What is subject ?.” 1266 I don’t (0.1)I didn’t learn (0.2) I don’t know (0.1), I just (0.2)=[ 1267 M : difficult].. 1268 O: haaa (realizes the point) 1269 V: Asian people analyze (laufther)= 1270 O: =yeah (laufter) 1271 V: things (0.1) ‘subject ,’ ‘noun ’ (0.2) and I am like ‘I don’t understand’ (0.2) 1272 I just write and 1273 for me it sounds good 1274 You don’t ask (0.2) I don’t know.[3.writing discussion]

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132 To Masami’s question, “what is the subject ?” Vanessa answered with a same question while she was thinking out-loud for a second, an d then she explained that she did not know the term “subject” stating, “she didn’t learn.” While Masami was trying to find a solution to the missing subject problem in th at sentence, KyungOk showed her surprise and ambiguity through an utterance “ahh.” In line 1269 Vanessa underlined the difference between herself and the Asian part icipants as they analyzed the sentence. According to Vanessa, Asian participants were an expert on gram mar analysis whereas she did not have any idea about terminology related to grammar. Grammatical analysis of the way participants analyzed the sentences differed between students with lower and higher Engl ish proficiency. For the lower ones what sounded good was right, for the higher ones what was grammatical was right (Swain & Lapkin, 1995). Also, these analyses through talk made the participants critical thinkers and developed their creative skills (Rubin, 1990) For example, referring to the syntactic problems as Vanessa says she “just writ e and for me it sounds good. You don’t ask I [she] don’t know” (line 1272-1275). So, Vanessa did not analyze the grammar of her sentences in her summaries. Similar to Vanessa, Gosia also answered several grammatical points during the discussions as “to me, it sounds good” (line 274) whereas Isabel and other participants found the st ructures as grammatically incorrect. Participants with a lower language pr oficiency in English pointed out the problematic sentence, but they could not explain why it was ambiguous or could not correct it. Participants with a lower language proficiency in English corrected mechanics and word level problems but participants w ith a higher language pr oficiency in English corrected syntactic level.

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133 Table 5-2. Patricia’s summary about death and dying, second paragraph own. Honestly, I wouldn’t take it. I don’t think I need it because, first of all, I haven’t lost a close relative. Thank God!; and also because I am not afraid to talk about it, If I have to, I just do it; but I wouldn’t like to discuss this that often. I think is depressing If I good major in Death and Dying, what job could I get? Perhaps in a Rehabilitat ion Center for people that are depressed because somebody close to her/him died. My opinion about death? I agree with Susan Bluck. In my opinion it will take place someday, early or late; it’s norma l if we were born; I see it as something fair and necessary, something that we shouldn’t be afraid of. [April 5, 2005] In Patricia’s summary about death and dyi ng in Table 5-2, Masami found mistakes like the subject (it) is missing in the sentence “I think is depr essing” in the third line: =>684 M: next line, “I thi nk.”(reads from a summary) 685 O: ihhhh yeah (realizes the point) 686 Y: which one is?=[ 687 O: yeah]= 688 V: what?] 689 M: (0.2)next line 690 O: “Thank God ” (0.1) in next sentence (reads from a summary) 691 Y: hihim= 692 M: [“I think it is depressing”]= (reads from a summary) 693 O: past tense ] 694 P: because I thought (0.1) I could write this (0.1) “often” (from a summary)(0.1) 695 because I think it is a surprising instead of (0.2) about. 696 V: yeah 697 P: “ but, I wouldn’t like to discuss this that often” (reads from a summary) 698 because I think (0.1) it is present 699 Y: himm (0.2) “because it is depressing” (reads from a summary) 700 P: what do you think about? (0.1) I think if it is present or=…. 701 Y: himm 702 P: I mean if =[ 703 V:,??? 704 Y: I think “it is depressing ”] 705 P: hihim (0.1)yeah (0.1) I don’t know(0.2) I wrote yesterday [3. writing discussion] From line 684 to 692 one can see that Masami co rrected that sentence in terms of adding a subject as the sentence was missing it. Hence, the sentence became “I think it is depressing.” On the other hand, KyungOk tried to correct the mistake in the if-clause sentence in terms of time agreement from line 693 to 705. Also, the type of inaccuracies participants found was related to their la nguage proficiency level. That is, lower

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134 proficient ones found the mistakes related to spelling, capitalizat ion and basic grammar structures such as missing subjects, wher eas higher proficient students found more difficult mistakes, such as grammar problems re lated to phrase and sentence structures and the connection or disconnections of ideas in the content. For example, Gosia and Masami corrected mistakes related to sp elling and capitalizatio n. KyungOk and Isabel corrected complex mistakes, such as sent ence structures and connection of ideas. Cultural attach Participants connected the reading texts with their culture and experiences. As a cultural attach of their c ountry and culture, participan ts contributed to the group discussions through providing information about their cultural backgrounds. In some cases, these interventions ended in opposition to what the author of the reading text wrote due to the incorrect and inappr opriate presentation of the pe rspectives. For instance, in the reading text about American culture, the author Luigi Barzini (1983) represented American people as “all anxious ly rushing about always in a great hurry.” According to KyungOk, group discussions enabled participants to discuss thei r own point of views as a group (line 282-286). Based on her experiences Kor ean people were in a more hurry than American people even though in the reading text it has been considered as Americans: =>281 O: this text (0.1) after reading (0.1) I like (0.1) we can discuss about this 282 like (0.1) I don’t agree the American (0.2) 283 American people like (0.1) in a great hurry 284 but (0.1) I think it is (0.1) Korean is more hurry (0.2) more hurrier than American 285 (0.1) but other countries people (0.1) like Isabel and Polish people maybe (0.3) 286 when they read this article (0.1)they think “ah maybe Americans like that ” [2. reading discussion interview] Therefore, KyungOk can argue with the author and inform other group members (connection building, Gee, 2005) in lines 282 and 286. KyungOk continues: Stanza: informing others about text during the discussion

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135 =>287 O: but (0.1) after telling my experience or my countries people are in the hurry. 288 They think (0.2) maybe Korean people could be hurrier than (0.3) 289 or hurrie r than Americans (0.2) with other people. [2. reading discussion interview] KyungOk, coming from Asian culture specifi cally from the South Korean culture, considered herself as informative (buildi ng identity, Gee, 2005) to the other group members (line 287-289). She stated that if she hadn’t explained that Korean waiters were in a much more hurry than the American waiters, the group members would have accepted that the American waiters were the fastest waiters in the world, which built the significance of her contributi on to the discussion (Gee, 2005). Hence, she corrected the author’s mistake that American waiters were ve ry fast and so, the meaning of the text that readers in the group could get also changed, as a group now we knew that it was not true any more: “we can think about other ways not just exact what the au thor said” (line 291292). Stanza: finding alternative meanings of the reading texts =>290 O: So (0.2) after knowing each others’ experience or their cultural thing (0.2) 291 we can think about this (0.3) 292 other ways (0.2) not just exact what the author said. 293 I think (0.1) sharing experiences good for other way 294 I think [2. reading discussion interview] Asian participants spoke up if they are su re of the answers or an expert of the information, such as of their counties and cu lture. As an Asian participant, KyungOk’s contribution to the discussion th rough explaining that waiters in Korea were faster than the ones in the U.S. was very interesting. Th e reason was that Asian students were known for their obedience to the authority (Res nick, 1990; Ting-Toomey, 1990), who can be a teacher. However, in this group meeting about this article, she argued with the author. She even went one step further, stating, “it is not true.” What made her argue with the author and share this argume ntation with other group members might be due to several

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136 reasons: the friendly atmosphere of the gr oup, her awareness that all the group members were international students, and/or her st rong national bounds to her country that she mentions by saying “my country” and “ my country’s people.” Sharing this cultural information made group members powerful according to her because as they discussed and shared more information, they may not agree with the author’s views. Having reading and writing discussions with participants from different cultural backgrounds has changed Gosia’s perspective of the world culture and meaning of the reading texts. While Gosia was traveling in Europe, she noticed people doing the same activities which she lis ted (activity building, Gee, 2005) as watching same TV channels (line 248), listening to same kind of music (line 249), “do similar staff” (line 251), playing computer games (line 252) and shari ng values (line 254). Gosia thought that belonging to the same cultural heritage of Western culture European and American people were similar: “so I thought that we are, more or less, we are the same” (line 253). Through using “so” at the beginning of lin e 253, Gosia indicated that this was a conclusion (activity building, Gee, 2005) that she has reached based on the evidences of having several similarities she observed th rough her experience during her travel of Europe (connection building, Gee, 2005) and the U.S. I think because of this travel experience she identified herself with Isabel rather than other people in the group, such as Masami, KyungOk, or me (building identity, Ge e, 2005). Also, she continued to identify herself with the European culture using “w e have the same like values something like that.” During the study, by discussing some issues from their own cultu ral perspectives they were able to understand better some di fferences between cultures. Also, they found

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137 some logical explanation for culturally misr epresented items. For example, during the reading discussion, they discussed the possibl e reasons for waiters’ speed in Europe and in Korea. By giving some cultural information they came to a conclusion. Through KyungOk’s explanation that waiters in Korea we re faster than the ones in the U.S., as a group we were wondering why it was so. About these issue Gosia uses “I” to emphasize that she has solved our problem about why wa iters are slow in the US whereas they are faster in Europe and Asian count ries (line 259). However, in or der not to be seen too sure about the solution, she adds “maybe” referri ng that what she will suggest might be the solution (activity build ing, Gee, 2005). The solution was that in the US due to the regulations people have to leav e tips to waiters. In order to emphasize this she was using “you don’t have a choice” (building significan ce, Gee, 2005). However, as a comparison (connection building, Gee, 2005), in Europe in or der to get tips from customers, waiters had to be hurry if they woul d like to get a tip because is it not mandatory: “in Europe you can, but you don’t have to” lines 263 and 264. The discussions continued among the participants, as described in the following quote: “our meanings cannot always be as fixed and immediate as the ideal of West ern culture might wish” (Hillocks, 1995 p.8), Elaborating the text and making connections to a participants’ culture provides a beginning point to move on to further unders tanding because learning begins with the familiar and continues only after making c onnection with the known. Interviews allow students to use the speaking, listening, and writ ing abilities they already have as they develop new abilities (Bruner, 1990 p.124). Group activator Participants as ‘group activator’ were he lping the task organization before they started group discussions. During the discussi ons, while the higher pr oficient ones were

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138 opening new conversation topics to discuss related to the read ing text topic, other group members provided required information to answ er these new questions or topics. Hence, lower level language proficient ones’ involve ment was mostly to provide information about their culture. At the beginning of the discussion, someti mes I, and sometimes other participants, such as Gosia and Vanessa, were organizing th e tasks. For example, Gosia was asking to the group members: =>590 G: so (0.1) we have KyungOk. 591Y: KyungOk’s ? 592 G: ok (0.1) who want to start ? [2. writing discussion] Here, Gosia starts the discussion about KyungOk’s summary through asking, “who want to start” (line 592). She want s other group members to expres s their suggestions and to give feedback to KyungOk’s summary. Group activators also opened new convers ation topics during reading and writing discussions. Group activators ha d higher conversational skills due to their higher level proficiency. They directly asked questions to open new conversation topics for the group and provided a statement besides asking othe rs’ opinion about the same topic. Groups activators directly asked questions related to the reading topic. For example, related to the death and dying text, in order to understand mo re details about this class, Vanessa asked: =>434 V: what topics (0.1) how they will grate it and 435 at the end what is the thing she want to students get of the class? 436 I think (0.1) it is interesting class (0.1) but we need to know like (0.1) 437 what is the name for that class? 438 Look (shows from the text) because in here it just seems like a discussion (0.1) 439 like you say group therapy or something. 440 P: that is why I think it is course [3.reading discussion]

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139 Vanessa put a series of ques tions together and waited for the group members to give her an answer. She maintained a positive att itude by saying she found this class very interesting. It looked like she enjoyed having questions: she found it in teresting but at the same time a topic she introduced “we need to know” details about it. Through finding a section from the text, she also helped others to participate to the discussion. She provided some answers and discussion points, such as by comparing the course to “group therapy or something.” Another example of opening a new convers ation is making a statement about the topic. Patricia opens a new topic through starting to tell one of her experience. =>691 P: There is something interesting (0.1) not in my culture (0.2) you know indigenous –[ 692 Y: hihim] 693 P: they (0.2)they still exists some like =[. 694 V: tribes?] 695 P: tribes (0.1) and when a person is born (0.1) they cry because they come to life 696 Y: hihim 697 P: and they come to suffer and when they die(0.1) they celebrate 698 V: yeah? 699 P: like (0.1) for one week=[ 700 V: hihim 701 V: after he die ?= 702 V: you know we have that] 703 P: yeah (0.1) because they go (0.1) they won’t suffer any more and they are happy [3. reading discussion] After participants talked about death and dyi ng course in the thir d reading discussion, towards the end of the meeti ng Patricia started a new conve rsation topic through uttering the sentence, “There is something interesti ng not in my culture, you know indigenous.” In order to attract our attention or to show the importance of why she was uttering this sentence, she put “interesting” adjective into her sentence. Therefore, as listeners we would like to learn what the thing was that was interesting and somehow related to her

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140 culture. In order to increase out attention, she also stated that this interesting topic was a contemporary one through using “still” in front of the verb “exists.” Therefore, we totally directed our attention to her sentences and helped her to co mplete her sentences through providing the words that she was looking fo r and asking for some clarification. Group activators act as interaction pr oviders. By putting some issues into discussion and asking questions, they created a conve rsational environment which reminds the statement that “language acquisition occurs ‘i n interaction’ not as a resu lt of interaction” (Swain & Lapkin, 1998 p.18). Participants’ Explorations About Thei r Language Learning with Social Focus Through discussions students often make discoveries about themselves as individuals and learners in a studentcentered learning environment (Gambrell &Almasi,1996). In this study through interactin g with each other and learning together in a student-centered language learning envir onment participants explored about their language learning. After explaini ng the participants’ interac tion through a social pattern, in this section I will tie the data with participants’ L2 learning through interactions. The participants’ explorations about their own la nguage learning with a social-focus through social constructionism are addressed under th ree subheadings: Intera ction is a Way of Learning, Transition to Student-centered Lear ning, and Developing a Sense of Audience in Their Writing. Interaction is a Way of Learning For sociocultural theorists, the metaphor “participation” rather than acquisition guides their work (Sfard, 1998). Learning is a socially situated ac tivity rather than individual activity. Individuals obviously do pl ay a role in learning, but what they will eventually be able to do by themselves, they first achieve collabor atively during social

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141 interaction (Ellis, 2005). In this view of la nguage learning, “the distinction between use of the L2 and knowledge of the L2 become s blurred because knowledge is use and use creates knowledge” (Ellis, 2003a: 176), or as Landolf and Pavlenko (1995) say, the sociocultural theoretical view “erases the boundary between language learning and language using.” (pp.116). Socioc ultural theory, therefore, o ffers a much more holistic perspective of language learni ng where individual and social merge into one and where use (language performance) and knowledge (language knowledge) i ndistinguishable. As Witte and Flach (1994) assert, “The meaningconstructive processes of both writers and readers (and of course speakers and listeners) are collaborative and social, dialogic and interactive” (221). Compared to the beginning of the readi ng and writing discus sions in this study, Asian participants’ perception of talking changed towards the end of the study. At the beginning, Asian participants perceived “talk” as a response for showing what they have understood and learned whereas for other part icipants, talking was for brainstorming about the issues so that they could learn t ogether. Also, due to language proficiency, the presence of culturally sensitive topics (i.e., death and dying), and social-cultural behaviors (such as giving more importance to listening to others rather than talking), Asian participants were less talkative comp ared to other group members. However, by the end of the study Asian participants b ecame more open and talkative in the group, which was also noticed by European and Hispanic participants. KyungOk started to participate particularly more in the discussi ons compared to her pa rticipation in both the first discussion in this study and the readi ng and writing classes at ELI as reported by

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142 other participants. During the second intervie w, Asian participants expressed that they were aware of this gradual ch ange that they have been e xperiencing through this study. =>239 O: actually still nervous for me 240 because for the first time really af raid of telling someone something. 241 I think you it is not right like this 242 because I in my case 243 I always care about othe rs’ what others think a bout what I am saying. 244 So, first time like I almost like no….. 245 I am just listen to others 246 but it is better now. 247 Now I try to tell something but still it is not enough. 248 G: but you need to practice 249 M: For me also like you.……discussion 250 I still feel uncomfortable. 251 Because …….is difficult. 252 I always accept my ……they showed. 253 They clear……. I mean I add more for ex ample [2. writing discussion interview] Compared to the earlier discussions, Asian participants, especially KyungOk, felt more comfortable participating in the discussion. Humo r and tease, as in the data below, show participants’ relax and comfortness in the gr oup. In Masami’s case, although she was still the least talkative one in the group, she becam e more talkative and she was also feeling more comfortable in the group. Also, Hispanic and European participants realized this change in Asian participants, especially KyungOk. According to K yungOk, the change in the perception of talking depended on other gr oup members’ role modeling for her. Being grouped with other participants from differe nt cultures who expre ssed their thought and shared them with othe rs, KyungOk pushed herself to talk more than listen to others: =>337 O: in my culture even though we have own opinion about some topic 338 we rarely talk about their opinion in public just keep in my mind and writing 339 so this every week discussion we have to tell my opinion, our opinions 340 so, first time I am not really accustomed to telling my opinion. 341 But time go go go the last week right some like us Asian people, 342 Vanessa and Patricia 343 I think in my opinion Patricia an d Vanessa like they are more 344 V:….

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143 345 O: Yeah express their opinion them us. 346 So, I influenced I got influenced from 347 Vanessa and Patricia 348 V: we have same one You have like 349 you are like more you feel more pressure to talk now and you talk. 350 You are that fear to talk you don’t have it anymore. 351 P: good good 352 V: yeah that is a good thing to get rid of this 353 P: I am proud of you 354 O: thank you teachers.. (laughter) [3. reading discussion interview] Different cultures have different perspectives about talking and being silent. While in Hispanic and European cultures, being talkativ e is valued as a bett er behavior (“I am proud of you”) (line 353) and being silent is a sign of “not car e,” “don’t know” or passivity that one should “get rid of” (line 352), in Asian culture, “listening to others” rather than talking” is more valued (Chong & Baez 2005). Despite these cultural differences, through the interaction process of discussions KyungOk’s participation in the discussions has changed due to other participants’ (Eur opean and Hispanic) role modeling. In that sense, KyungOk considers Va nessa and Patricia as her “teachers” (line 354) from whom she has learned the importa nce of expressing her opinion and the perception of talking as brainstorming, problem solving and learning together rather than to “teach” or say things they are very sure of. Secondly, as stated in the interviews, th rough interacting with each other during the reading and writing discussions, participants were able to understand the text better similar to Pica, Young and Doughty’s (1987) fi ndings. Through this study reading and writing activities were interrelated with each other through talking (discussion). According to (Rodriguez-Garcia, 2001; Yano et al., 1994), talking af ter reading a text enhances reading comprehension and having a talk before and after a writing activity improves learners’ writing skills and language learning. In addition to these findings, this

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144 study has found that through interre lating both reading and writi ng activities, participants had a better understanding of the reading te xts and they had a chance to practice whole language skills (reading, writing, speaking and li stening) in a meaningful context. They enhanced their skills and unde rstandings through different activities. Even though there was not enough time to read and understand th e text on their own, pa rticipants can have better understanding of the text through reading discussions: =>265 M: we never I …… I need much time to understand 266 so actually in the first discussi on the time is not enough for me 267 but everyone finished so I have to ……. 268 But from discussion I can understa nd….[2. writing discussion interview] Through reading these discussions participants gather their understa nding of the reading text together, trying to unders tand the whole text. In that se nse, reading discussions is a chance to fill the gaps about the reading text in participants’ minds Additionally during the writing discussions while the group memb ers were discussing their summaries, they were still discussing about the reading texts, which provided more comprehension of the reading texts. =>293 O: last time we read together and we discuss about what we know about article 294 and that this time we…… we can th ink about article again and again. 295 So, we could get clear th inking about the topic and 296 I found out like we have same topic and same process 297 but I found out when we wrote summary, 298 we put the sentence or the meaning what we focus on. 299 We read same article but Isabel took sentence include 300 for example like she wrote about a, b, c from the article 301 but even same topic I focus on like b, c, d even same topic. 302 I found out “ ahhhh” the person unders tand or focus on that thinking 303 but in my case I ……… [2. writing discussion interview] =>320 M: because in first discussion we …….we become clear about article and 321 because we share our idea or experience 322 so we have we come out more another idea 323 so in the second discussion we can discuss more things. [3. writing discussion interview]

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145 Through writing discussions we discussed fu rther points about the reading text, which enhanced comprehension and created a base for more discussi on. Additionally, even though everybody has reached a better understanding of the text at the end of the reading discussions, in their summaries everybody wr ote differently. They used the same meaning but different phrases and with differe nt emphasis points of the text. This might also enhance comprehension of the text Also, through reading discussions the participants focused on the small details of the reading text. In that sense, reading discussions have helped writi ng discussions. Writing discussions is a chance for checking further reading comprehension (Tierney & Shanahan, 1991). Transition to Student-Centered Learning Eisentein (1980) suggests that it is not just the amount of experience, but also the type of learning experiences that individual learners have had, that influences the kind of instruction they prefer and from which bene fit the most. Learners whose experience is restricted to a foreign language classroom where a premium is placed on formal grammar training may be encouraged to develop high le vels of conformity a nd control, as these appear to be important for success in such environments (Ellis, 1994) which explains why ELI teachers teaches use teacher-centered methods. Through this study participants experienced the transition from teacher-centered approach, which is based on a teacherlecture and teacher-dominance on the classroom talk, to student-centered approach in which students’ talk is domina nt and participants are responsible from their own learning. The transition to student-centered learning bene fited participants; for example, they gave importance to each other’s suggestions and sh ared learning about each other’s cultures. As participants were used to a teacher-cente red learning both in their country and at the

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146 ELI, at the beginning of the transition, they had some difficulties to adapt to the new approach. The major difficulty experienced by th e participants was that they did not have self-confidence at the beginning of the study. Du e to their previous learning experiences, participants were used to having a teacherdominated language environment rather than student-centered one. They were not used to ta king responsibilities of their own learning and to organizing the tasks on their own. Fo r that reason, at the beginning of the study participants asked for very de tailed directions and guidelines for their summaries. As they became used to considering the teacher as the only “authority” because of the role of their previous teachers who transformed knowledge to them, students did not have much selfconfidence on language proficiency. Therefore, participants did not consider themselves competent enough to give suggestions and they complained, “they were not an ‘expert’ or a ‘teacher’.” However, during one of the disc ussions, Vanessa told to the group that the important point is not “to do perfect our su mmaries,” but “do it better.” After, this comment, other participants also felt relieved and became more confident in sharing and asking questions. Hence, participants became aw are of the fact that unlike the traditional education system in which ther e is only one “correct” answer, there might be more than one possible answer to a question. In the te acher dominant learning environment, the teacher is responsible for transferring all the knowledge to participants who are like “empty bottles” that are supposed to intake a ll the information as passive learners (Fox, 1994). During group activities, participants became more active constructed knowledge through combining and discussing the knowledge that all group members brought with them linguistically as well as culturall y to solve the problems (Reid, 1989). Group members served the group based on their expe rtise areas. For exam ple, some of the

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147 members became a grammar analyst to correct and explain the grammatical issues while other members were mostly enrolled in questioning and arguing about other group members’ suggestions. According to Hillocks (1995), disagreements in the group are “the stuff of learning. When student s are encouraged to disagr ee and to defend their ideas reasonably, they develop a very meaningful stake in classroom proceedings” (p.66). Some of the group members became responsible for organizing tasks in the group such as whose summary would be disc ussed next by the group. All me mbers were also a cultural attach of their own culture and country who elaborated the text topics making connections to their own cu ltural backgrounds. Hence, th rough the construction of knowledge, participants starte d to take more responsibility for their own learning At the beginning of the study participants were very hesitant to give and take suggestions to and from each other; by the e nd of the study, participants started to feel more comfortable sharing their opinions and suggestions with each other. In that sense, they became more open to each other’s opinion s related to reading text and about their writing, which influenced Gosia’s language learning and motivation in a positive direction as a social f actor (Ellis, 2005, 1994). =>222 G: my previous experiences 223 like for example the other discussi on that we had like a week ago. 224 It helped me to like to listen during this di scussion I try to listen to more to 225 like accept 226 because sometime in the first one like you know “no no no not change no way” 227 and like now I try to listen to you 228 and I try to correct my mistakes 229 and I try to remember 230 and I also like more concentrate on other people’s writing. 231 So, I could help them to understand their mistakes if they had like this.[2. writing discussion interview]

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148 Among the participants, at the beginning of the study Gosia was the most insistent member for not accepting her peers’ suggestions. However, towards the end of the research, she started to value others’ feedback. Furthermore, Asian participants were ve ry hesitant to point out their peers’ mistakes and to make suggestions to them due to their social and cultural backgrounds. Through following European and Hispanic participants as a role models Asian participants became more talkative during the reading and writing discussions. Through the study participants became used to wo rking together as a group despite their differences in terms of cultural, linguistic a nd religious beliefs. Participants elaborated the reading topics through c onnecting them with their cultures and experiences and sharing them with other group members. Developing a Sense of Audience in Their Writing Through reading each other’s summaries a nd getting some feedback from each other, participants develope d the sense of audience in their writing. As they became aware of the audience in their wr iting, they started to consider the clarity of their work through readers’ perspective. Research indicates that when students coll aborate frequently as readers and writers in small groups, they not only develop a k eener sense of audience and appreciation of how author’s craft influences reader respons e, but also can respond to and revise their own writing with more objectivity (Graves & Hansen, 1983; Newkirk, 1982). Before this activity both in their countries and at the ELI participants were writing for their teacher. That is, participants were writing in order to accomplish the task given by their teacher and nobody but their teacher was reading their wo rk. However, students need to see their own writing as being worthy of close textual analysis and discussion, whether they have

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149 written a personal narrative or an analytical e ssay. They need to see the audience for their writing as extending beyond the teacher (Olson, 2003). Through this study participants had a chance to share their work with thei r group members besides their teacher. Sharing their work with their peers enabled the participants to receive a larger amount of more carefully detailed feedback about their work. For example, Patricia was using very long and confusing sentences in her summaries. Until she received feedback from her group members about the ambiguities in her summary due to using very long sentences, Patricia was not aware of it. =>133 P: Long my long sentences we re difficult to understand 134 for me this is not, of course I wrote them. 135 But for the rest of the people that read it, they are not clear enough 136 so I didn’t know that [3. writing discussion interview] After this feedback, Patricia became more aw are of her long sentences in her summaries and started to make them shor ter and clearer for the audience. Hence, participants started to pay attention to the clarity not only in terms of linguistic st ructures, but also in terms of clarity of their ideas in their summaries. Furthe r, they were able to consider the clarity of their work as they became more aware of the audience in their writing. This also established a more meaningful purpose for their work beyond simply completing the task given by the teacher. Writing is a social phe nomenon—it is a technique for negotiating meaning with other identifiable sets of hu man beings which requires far more than a minimal control of syntactic and lexical item s in the target language (Kaplan, 1988; Kern, 2003). Hence, participants had a chance to produce output to represent their understanding At the end of the group discussions, the summaries served to organize participants’ thoughts about the topic and bett er understanding the reading discussions

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150 (Glover, Plake, Roberst, Zimmer & Palm ere, 1981; Bretzing, Kulhavey, 1979; Kulhavy, Dyer & Silver, 1975; Taylor & Berkowitz, 1980; Taylor & Beach, 1984). The group had a chance to hypothesize new vocabulary and syntact ic structures used in their summaries as an output. Through the feedback they rece ived from other partic ipants, they tested their outcome as a form of negotiation which is reported as the most beneficial form of revision (Aljaafreh & Lantolf,1994; Nassaji & Swain, 2000; Swain, 2000). Participants gained in terms of presenting their hypothesi s to wider audience. They could both test and learn rules about English language, su ch as new vocabulary, and new ways of representing similar ideas in their summaries. It also created better writing habits for the participants as their teacher reported. The pa rticipants paid more attention to do their writing tasks, and became mo re responsible about consid ering their audience. Their reading and writing teacher was hesitant at the beginning of the study about whether the participants would be able to accomplish the writing tasks or not because he had difficulty making them write even a paragr aph. At the end of the study, participants turned in their summaries on time and were wr iting one and a half page summaries which they were ignoring at the be ginning. Participants commented that they became more aware of their own writing. They knew the poi nts they should check in their writing and they are aware of the process writing. As a group, they were trying to “make their writing better.” This chapter shows participants’ cultural differences in terms of hierarchy in society, directness, education system, and religious values together influence the participants’ interactions with each other dur ing the discussion. After knowing each other better, gradually participants realized what k eep them separate: cultural differences. From

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151 this separateness, participants were able to bond with each other and they developed a group identity. This group ident ity, being a foreigner in the USA learning English, helped participants to solve langua ge problems they have encount ered during the reading and writing discussions. As each participant cam e from different cultural background and with different experiences, these partic ipations enriched the reading and writing discussions. Within the group each participan ts took different roles (grammar analyst, cultural attach and group activator), which were not static. Through these small group interactions, participants explored that in teraction is a way of learning and learning should not be simply teacher dominant. Furthe rmore, as the particip ants had a chance to share their work with the real audience (other group members), they realized the meaning of audience in their writing and they started to pay more attention to be sure that what they wrote is also clear a nd understandable for an audience.

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152 CHAPTER 6 IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION In this chapter I summarize the findings re lated to linguistic a nd social pattern of discussions in reading and writing, which ar e already mentioned under “Participants’ Explorations About Their Language Learning” in both Chapter 4 and 5. Additionally, I attempt to tie the data of linguistic and soci al-cultural findings together and arrive at some conclusions on how the interactions ma y support understanding of the texts, writing summaries, and how the interact ions may support L2 acquisition. The chapter concludes with teaching and research implications and suggestions for future research. Interactive Language Learning During the reading and writing discussi ons through experien cing interactive language learning, participants ’ cultural backgrounds, and participants’ experiences adjusting to the student-centered language le arning environments are salient for English language learning. In this study of interactive language learning, in addition to culture, the participants’ experiences of student-centered language lear ning contributed to their English language learning. Discussion provi des more autonomy to language learners (Almasi & Gambrell, 1994). Within classroom discussion, the responsibility of learning is transferred from teacher to students. In such an environment participants come to believe that they can control their own learni ng as they learn how to interact with one another (Alvermann, O’Brien, &Dillon, 1990; O’Flahavan, 1989; Slavin, 1990). Thus, students involved in discussions not only le arn how to interact socially and develop

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153 communicative competence, but they learn to take responsibility fo r their own learning. When students share their thoughts with others their thoughts become an object that can be reflected upon. By sharing, th ese thoughts are made availabl e to all group members for inspection, which is an opportunity to expand a student’s limited perceptions. Besides expanding the students’ perceptions discussions also enhance the quality of discourse during the discu ssions. Students who participate in discussions of text not only engage in more dialogue about text. With in this dialogue their discourse is more complex than of students who participate in more traditional teacher-led recitations (Almasi, 1995; Almasi & Gambrell, 1994; Ee ds &Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Sweigart, 1991). Additionally, when teachers provided gr eater opportunities for students to share their opinions about a text, th e types of responses that st udents share broaden (Martinez, Roser, Hoffman, & Battle, 1992) and reflect thei r personal reactions to the text (McGee, 1992). The contribution of partic ipants’ student-centered lang uage learning experience are grouped into three ar eas: Response ability, sc affolding, and feedback. Response Ability The teacher-centered instruction (teachers talked and asked questions and students listened and answered teacher-posed questi ons) provides students with few opportunities to enter into dialogue with the learning process (White, 1990). The teacher controls the timing, structure, and content of classroom talk, allowing students limited opportunities to develop what Rubin (1990) has referred to as a “response-ability” (p.28). When comparing the Asian participants’ participati on at the beginning and at the end of the study, there is an obvious difference (they be came more talkative) observed by not only Asian participants themselves, but also by ot her participants. If st udents are to develop critical and creative thinking sk ills, they must have opportuni ties to respond to text. The

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154 ability to respond to text, or response-ability, is socially mediated and is learned through a process of socialization in a literacy community. Thus, response-ability is nurtured when students have opportunities to negotiate meaning with text and with other members of an interpretive community. Thus, participants’ interact ion in discussions is an important factor in promoting their ability to think critically and to consider multiple perspectives (Prawat, 1989). It is also impor tant for developing their ability to confirm, extend, and modify their individual interpre tations of text (Eeds & Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992). Scaffolding In this study scaffolding is defined as th e gradual withdrawal of an expert support, as through instruction, modeling, questioni ng, feedback, etc., for novice learners’ performance across successive engagements, thus transferring more and more autonomy to the novice learner (Tudge, 1990; Wells, 1999). During this scaffolding process both expert and novice students st art to support each other (Kowal & Swain, 1997; Ohta, 2001;Tudge, 1990; Wells, 1999;). The higher ES L proficiency students are twice as likely to rely on applying a grammatical ru le than on what sounds right; whereas the lower-proficiency students are about equally as likely to re ly on either to solve their linguistic difficulty (Swain & Lampkin,1995). Th erefore, in the grammatical analysis, there are important differences between highe r and lower proficiency learners (Swain & Lapkin, 1995). Even though language teaching institutions and educators give importance to assessment, measurement and testing, we fi nd in this study that language proficiency level is variable even in the same level—a finding similar to Rodr iguez-Garcia (2001). For instance, in this study all participants were advanced-level students according to ELI assessment test that applied to all participan ts at the beginning of the spring semester.

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155 However, through this study, it is clear that some of the participants were more advanced on some skills than other participants. In group activities, typically th e expert participant acknowledges the novice and encourag es participation (Storch, 1999, 2000, 2001a, 2001b). Through applying group work, all student s might benefit the whole advancedlevel reading and writing class. Advanced stud ents will help their classmates, they learn better (Yano et al., 1994). Previous st udies (e.g., Kowal &Swain, 1997; Ohta, 2001) suggest these results, which indicate that ev en less proficient peers are able to provide assistance to more proficie nt peers and through dialogue learners can construct utterances that are beyond what each could produce individually. In Ohta’s (2001) terms learners build “bridges to pr oficiency” (p.125). This sca ffolding, together with the internalization of the language learni ng through social interaction, supports L2 development. During the reading and writing discussions pa rticipants discussed the reading texts and their summaries. Through t hose interactions, participan ts not only internalized knowledge (Vygotsky, 1972) as comprehensib le inputs (e.g., other participants’ elaboration of the issue) (Krashen, 1 985), but also produced output (Swain, 1985) through explanations to each other in a meaningful task (Long, 1996). During this internalization process as ther e is no evaluation or teacher au thority that they have to consider; thus the affective filter is low (Krashen, 1982). Participants produce language for explanations, which is their output. Additionally, the feedback and corrections (negative feedback) are in the form of negotiation, which is considered the most useful way of language acquisition (Nassaji & Sw ain, 2000; Aljaafreh & Lantolf,1994; Swain, 2000). As peers can be concurrently expe rt and novices (Brooks & Swain, 2001; Kowal

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156 & Swain, 1997) within their ZPD, all partic ipants support each other’s learning through questioning, proposing possible solutions, disagreeing, repea ting and managing activities and behaviors (DiCamilla & Anton ,1997; Donato, 1994; Ohta, 2001; Swain & Lapkin, 1998; Tocalli-Beller, 2001). This study presen ted how acquisition occu rs in action, not as a result of interaction (Swa in & Lapkin, 1998; Swain, 2000). Similar to the Klingner and Vaughn’s (2000) study which also focused on peer interaction in groups, in this study the part icipants provided scaffolding for each other and even the higher achieving students benefited from the group interaction. For example, participants reported that through wo rking with their peers they have learned new vocabulary as earlier reported as the “positive effect results from social interactions” (Ruddell, 1994 p. 436) and new ways of expressing concepts their writing. Feedback This study enabled participants to give meaning to their own writing. That is, before this activity participants were writing th eir assignments for the teacher, not even to their teacher. However, sharing their wr iting with each other and knowing that somebody other than a teacher reads their summaries enab led the participants to develop the idea of considering the audience in their mind while wr iting their summaries. Hence, they started to check the clarity of their writing fro m the audience’s perspective and assistance through dialogue prompted further revisions and self-revisions after the sessions, indicating that peer learning was conductive to self-regulated behavior (Villamil & de Guerrero,1998). Participants benefited from discussions because they made discoveries about themselves as individuals and as learne rs (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). The repetition allowed students to recognize features of the language and to provide the necessary

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157 mediation to solve certain problems (of lexi s, spelling, verb form, etc.) (DiCamilla & Anton, 1997). Repetition was also used to approp riate the new forms and/or to help peers with the mastery of provided forms (DiCamilla & Anton, 1997). In this study participants became more aware of their language fossili zations. For example during the discussions issues of fossilization were pointed out to the participants by other group members. Besides enabling students to master some forms by repetition and feedback, the talk in student groups and the feedback th ey gave to each other provided help for understanding of complex topics. The disc ussions assisted their writing in an environment in which students see each othe r as collaborators “j ointly constructing meaning rather than as competitors whose pr imary goal is gaining the teacher’s approval” (Sweigart, 1991 p.493). During this study participants also menti oned the benefit of peer feedback. In a similar study, by Paulus that suggests the majority of changes that students underwent were meaning changes. This points to the fact as Paulus notes, that “not only do students take their classmates’ advice seriously, but they also use it to make meaning –level changes to their writing” (p.281). That is, students find their peer s’ advice useful. Peer response can teach students academic writing because in discussing each other’s essays, they have to apply know ledge about their thesis statements, the development of ideas and the types of text organization (Berg (1999). Furthermore, this discussion of ideas (content) and language can help students “discover” viable text alternatives to unclear aspects of their writing (Berg, 1999, p. 232). Although students valued the feedback th ey got from each other during the study, at the beginning participants did not feel comfortable while criticizing other group

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158 members’ work. As in the case of Tang and Tithecott’s (1999) study, gradually they got used to it. Both less and more proficient students benefited from the peer response sessions and increased their language awareness and self-confidence. Interdependence of Reading, Writing and Talking Talking is a social mode of thinking by which humans jointly construct knowledge and understanding (Mercer, 1995). Thus, talki ng plays an important role in language learning as commonly a social, rather than an individual, activity; intellectual development is essentially a culturally-situat ed, guided process; and becoming educated is largely a matter of learni ng certain ‘ways with words’ in a community of discourse (Mercer, 1996). Also, according to soci al constructionist theory (Gee, 1992-1999, Gergen, 1994), students are knowledgeable bein gs with their own theories of world (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Smith, 1975), not empt y vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge (Kong & Pearson, 2003). As learners construct meaning th rough collaborating with others, the meaning has both a cultura l and social face (Kong & Pearson, 2003). The cultural face refers to the dispositions a nd experiences learners bring to the reading process and the social face refers to “give-a nd-take” of classroom ta lk about text (Kong & Pearson, 2003 p.90). Meaning is viewed as bei ng located within the event rather than in an individual’s mind (Gee, 1992; Heap, 1992) Thus, literacy is viewed as primarily social endeavor (Bloome, 1985; Bloome &G reen, 1992), and discussion is viewed as primarily component of the lite racy process. Hence, due to the dialogic and interactive nature of learning and meaning making, the pa rticipation is both the goal and the means of learning (Dewey, 1916; Lave & Weigner, 1991; Rogoff, et al., 1996). As students participate in discussions of text, ther e are many opportunities for cognitive, social, emotional and affective grow th (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996).

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159 It is interesting to ask if negotiated interaction is crucial for second language acquisition, why there is so lit tle time spent giving students the opportunity to engage in negotiation with the teacher a nd other students. Also, when negotiated inter action occurs, who receives the opportunities to engage in i t; what types of inter action occur in their classrooms; and how do student s contribute to each othe rs’ learning. Answering these questions affect teaching practice and cu rriculum implementation, which have the potential to facilitate second language deve lopment in the classroom context (Foster, 1998). Through combining reading and writing, small discussion groups has allowed Asian students to participate in conversati ons and to express th eir ideas and thoughts, through which other students in the class mi ght benefit; they might learn about that culture and their perspectives and how they make meaning of the same reading text. Through combining reading and talking, writing and talking with each other, not only Asian but also other partic ipants gained benefits. Besides cognitive, social, and emotional gr owth, talking helps to increase reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and au tonomy of learners. Discussing a reading text with a peer incr eases reading comprehe nsion (RodriguezGarcia, 2001). During the reading discussions, participants ’ elaborations served “the tw in functions of most foreign land second language reading lessons: (a) im proving comprehension and (b) providing learners with the rich linguistic forms they need for further language learning” (Yano et al.,1994 p.214; Leow, 1993). Students’ reading comprehension im proved throughout the study, and their perception about writing changed. At the end of the study participan ts’ comments showed a change in attitudes toward writing. They bega n to see writing as an enjoyable process.

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160 Because writing became not individual but group work, the writing process did not require being silent and wr iting, but talking, discussing, le arning from each other and reflecting those contents in a paper with appropriate gramma r. As talking is a way of organizing thoughts (Mercer, 1995), talki ng with other group members enabled participants to organize their thoughts first a nd then write them, which also makes writing easier for participants, because they had a bett er understanding of the text. Also, as they elaborate, they were able to express thei r ideas in different ways, which also might prevent plagiarism in nonnative speakers’ writings. Therefore, writing, reading and classroom talk are vehicles of active inquiry rather than recitation and review, which is describe d as “talking and writi ng to learn” (Britton, 1969; Britton, Burgess, Martin, McLeod, & Rosen, 1975; Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991). Writings, such as paraphrasing, outlining, a nd summarizing improved, which revealed an improved comprehension and retention (Glove r, Plake, Roberst, Zimmer & Palmere, 1981; Bretzing, Kulhavey, 1979; Kulhavy, Dyer & Silver, 1975; Taylor & Berkowitz, 1980; Taylor & Beach, 1984). At the end of the study, as De Guerrero & Villamil (2000) show, the opportunity to talk and discuss language and writing issues with each other “allo wed both reader and writer to consolidate and reorganize knowledge of the second language in structural and rhetorical aspects and to make this knowledge explicit for each other’s benefit” (p. 65). The participants’ interactions during the re ading and writing disc ussions indicate that participants’ English language learning fo cus is more on form than meaning. Also, participants’ first language can both inhibi t and enhance English language learning.

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161 Focus on Form vs. Focus on Meaning Similar to other studies (Villamil & de Guerrero, 1998; Kowal & Swain, 1997; Swain & Lapkin, 1995), this study confirmed that participants’ feedback included more grammatical corrections and suggestions rath er than content ones. Both reading and writing discussions indicated that participants gave more impo rtance to linguistic features (grammar) of language rather than content. Typically, during th e writing discussions, emphasis was on giving suggestions and dealing with grammatical issues either in word or sentence based forms rather than the content of the work. During the reading discussions participants gave more importan ce to the content especially connecting the topic to their own culture and share their knowledge with other group members. The participants’ focus on form (linguistic structur e of language) is relate d to the curriculum for the teaching of English in a foreign language learning environment and American language institutes, such as the ELI, that k eep this traditional “focus on grammar” and not a focus on meaning (Gascoigne, 2002). Howe ver, as Gascoigne (2002) suggests, we should combine both in our teac hing and learning process. First Language and English The literacy relation between participants’ first language and English is another important issue related to combining talki ng through reading and writing. For example, during the reading discussions Hispanic and European participants were able to guess some unknown words and concepts correctly in the reading texts as their L1 shares the same language root, Latin, with English. Firs t language influence gives advantages to European and Hispanic participants for en coding unknown words in the reading text as a positive transfer whereas participants’ from language groups outside of Europe find that

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162 word encoding is inhibited due to the differe nces between the language root of English and their first language family (Ellis, 1994). During the writing discussions, as Gass and Lakshmanan (1991) put it, “the learner initially searches for correspondences or ma tches in form between the native and the second language” (p.272). Cross-linguistic tr ansfer hypothesis posits that knowledge is transferred from the learners’ first langua ge into the performance of cognitive and linguistic tasks in the second language (Hornberger, 1994; Koda, 1997, Odlin, 1989). The greater the similarity in the writing systems of the two languages, th e greater the degree of transfer, thus reducing the time and difficu lties involved in learning to read and write the second language (Odlin, 1989). However, th is present study indi cates that knowing a students’ English language proficiency level is important in order to differentiate which similarity between L1 and English can be used in English and which cannot be used. Similar to Odlin’s (1990) findings, particip ants with a lower-le vel English language proficiency, and whose native language and Englis h were similar, more tend to translate the sentence structures directly from L1. These translation caused ambiguous meaning to appear in phrase and sentence structures—a result of the differences in syntactic structures of first language and English and the lack of cultural m eaning equivalency of the culturally embedded idioms in English. A dditionally, as in the case of Gosia, not all students of English are good at writing in th eir L1. Based on research on this field (Fu, 2006), L1 literacy helps the acquisition and development of L2. Therefore, educators teaching English should be aware of students’ literacy skills in their native language which might be a reason for limits in a st udent’s ability in writing in English.

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163 Teaching Implications Rodriguez-Garcia’s (2001) st udy shows that language prof iciency level is variable even in the same level. Therefore, educators should be aware of th e students’ individual needs. As a teacher in a classroom it might difficult to meet all students’ unique needs, but through small group interactions, students can learn from each other, which meets their individual needs. Another set of important factors in th e English language learning classroom are cultural differences (e.g. having different pe rception of classroom talk). As language teachers, we should be aware of these cultura l differences and inform Asian participants about the multifarious purposes of having discussion, which include brainstorming and thinking together not simply re placing the teacher. Also, teache rs should be aware of the fact that even though asking questions and participating in the conversation through making comments are the characteristic of American classroom culture Asian students can also contribute to it. Applying small-group activities mi ght be used as a transition period for those learners to speak in class. Sm all-group activities help them to share their ideas with few members first and then to shar e and verbalize in front of the whole class. The ELI teacher who contributed to this study with his class commented that combining reading and writing act ivities through talk ing in small-group activities helped all the students in th e class. He said, “their English language learning has improved a lot. I could not do it myself.” However, he al so commented that he would use group work activity two or three times in a semester becau se it takes more time compared to teaching through a lecture. Therefore, even though he be lieves in the value of group work, due to time management issue, he views the practic al applications of group work as being limited by the curriculum. Researchers need to investigate in more detail where and

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164 when we should apply group work activities so that it will be more helpful to students’ language learning during reading and writing. ESL reading instruction through memori zation has tended to focus on linguistic forms such as word recognition, pattern drills and oral reading instead of constructing meaning through complex thinking and cr itical response (Au & Raphael, 2000; Fitzgerald, 1995; Valdes, 1998). Through cr eating time and opportunity for diverse learners to construct textual meaning bot h individually and collaboratively through discussion would allow students to actively produce language and develop more complex linguistic tools for communicating with each other—these tools are important for ESL learners’ language development (Anders on & Roit, 1996; Garcia, 1993; Gersten, 1996; Kong & Pearson, 2003). For teachers who do not use group activities (e.g., this teacher) and who might considered read ing and writing activities as separate from conversation (e.g., this teacher), this study can provide a guide to help them understand and apply collaborative activities in their classroom. Writing should be taught not only through lect ures but also through writing. In this study I was a participant. Like other participants, I wrote summaries about the reading texts we read and discussed as a class. My summaries, even though it was not my intention to do so, provided a model for th e participants. During the trial week, the teacher also wrote his summary. For the firs t time, students saw their teacher’s summary. However, later the teacher st opped writing. I believe students need to see their teacher’s writing instead of learning how to write by being their work corrected by their teacher. Also, seeing their teacher’s work, as in the case of their seeing my work, thought them that writing is not only a product as they have been taught in their country, but a process

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165 through which we write several drafts to reac h the final product. The effects of how an expert’s writing samples contribute to part icipants’ writing development should be investigated. Research Implications In this study the reading materials were provided by the teacher and chosen by the participants. As a further study, we should ask whether participants can learn while writing in specific genre (e.g., ar gumentative, narrative) from the structure of reading texts. If so, how does the structure of reading te xts help students to writ e in that genre? In this study, during the reading discussions within the limited time (in this case, a 50 minute period), participants spent most of the time working on vocabulary and the topic of the texts, but they had very limited and in some cases no time to analyze the structure of the reading texts. As read ing and writing connections indica te that teaching of one area can facilitate skills in an other area are highlighted in previous studies (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1984; Stotsky, 1984; Lange r, 1986; Tierney & Leys, 1984). How discussions facilitate reading a nd writing interrelationship shoul d be investigated further. The role of talking is investigated in this study. During the writing discussions, when other participants pointed out an ungrammatical and meaning ambiguity, a participant had a chance to explain why she used a structure or what she tried to mean by that structure. Then, other participants ga ve a suggestion with an explanation why she could not use it in that way. Participants re ported that through those explanations, they could remember the points better. During the discussions and explanations, participants mostly focused on grammar and vocabulary issu es, which are mostly related to language acquisition. At the beginning of the study, the teacher was not even sure whether participants would be able to write a su mmary, because since the beginning of the

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166 semester participants were only writing very short journal entries without any structure (free writing). This study provided participan ts to move from free writing to writing a summary as a way to organize their understa nding of the discussi ons about the reading topic and their opinion about it. Further research should focu s on participants’ move from organizing ideas in a summary to learning to write in a specific genre, such as argumentative essay. The ELI mission statemen t puts forward the goal of the institution as the preparation of international students for graduate education, and participants, especially ones attending the advanced leve l, should know how to write an argumentative essay which is an important skill for the su ccessful completion of a graduate degree. Therefore, the goal of learning genres of wr iting, such as the argum entative essay should be incorporated into the curriculum of the va rious language classes. With that being said, the role of talking as a method for teachi ng the writing of an argumentative essay in English must be researched. Such research should also cover th e uniqueness of English rhetoric as a component of Anglo-American cultural values, and how these values might serve as obstacles in a cro ss cultural classroom (Fox, 2004). This study included four weeks of intens ive data collection. As language learning takes time especially academic language learning (Thomas & Collier, 1995, 1997), a longitude study should explore participants’ inte ractions. Through a longitude study the transition from the participants’ second/fore ign language acquisition to English literacy acquisition should be observed. Th is way the long term effects of group discussions on reading and writing can be better understood. In this present study, the participants were all female and aged from 17 to 26; further studies should investigate groups th at have a mix of genders, and a mix of

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167 different ages groups’ interactions and mean ing making processes. As female and male roles are shaped by culture, students’ particip ation in the discussions (e.g., turn taking) and the roles they have enrolled (e.g., expl anation or questioning) might be different. Additionally, the roles emerged naturall y through this study (e.g., group activator, cultural attach and grammar analyst) might be investigated in diffe rent cultural groups, such as during Turkish students’ interactions in a small group. Future studies should also take into c onsideration the role of the classroom environment on group activities. For this study the setting had to be my office for data collection instead of the classroom, especia lly for participant obs ervation and recording purposes. Further research might investigate the interaction within a classroom with a teacher presence. More advanced research might evaluate different, non-traditional, classroom arrangements and the effect of th ese arrangements on stude nt behavior as well as the overall learning process. The reading and writing teacher had no experience with group work activities during this study. Therefore, like many teach ers with limited experience with group work and with a lecture-centered phi losophy of teaching, the teacher had some concerns about adjusting his position in the group activities. As there is a shif t of authority from teacher to students, the teacher who is used to havi ng the control of the class experienced anxiety over his loss of control. In time, he trie d to lessen his controll ing role in the group activities through letting students explain their ideas to ea ch other. The students’ group interactions with the teacher, with the researcher, and without any teacher and researcher (students on their own) should be investigated further. This further analysis can provide

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168 valuable information about the influence of teacher/researcher/ native speaker vs. all nonnative speaker interaction. This study has provided some insights about the researcher as a participant in group work. However, especially in a foreign language teaching and learning environment, having a native speaker of Eng lish teacher is difficult and teacher cannot meet all of the students’ needs because of the larger clas sroom sizes (e.g. in Turkey around 45 students per class at College level, around 30 students in private institutions teaching English) compared to the ELI (15 students per clas s). Therefore, how students without any researcher or a teacher intera ct and how this interaction contributes to their language learning should be investigated further. Additionally, working with a teacher who has some experience of group work activities and with students who already participated to group work activities should be investigate d. This kind of research might provide information about the role of teachers and student training. The growth of English as an internationa l language (ELI) requires more research on the varieties of what is commonly called “world Englishes” (Kachru & Nelson, 1996; Kachru, 1985, 1992). According to Kachru, learning English in India, for example, really does not involve taking on a new culture since on e is acquiring Indian English in India. The “Indianization” of Englis h has led to a situation in which English has few if any British cultural attributes. This process of “nativization” or “indigenization” (Richards, 1979) of English has spread to an “outer circ le” (Kachru, 1985) of countries that includes India, Singapore, Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, and others. Similar to the postcolonial situation wher e English is embedded in an L1 culture (Kachru, 1985) as an official language with in national boundaries, there is also an

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169 “international English” (Saville, 1989), wh ich is used for the communication of people across national boundaries. This international Englis h involves speakers with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds who have le arned English as a foreign language, as in the case of this study. Unlike world Englishes, international English brings speakers of English as a foreign language with differe nt L1 cultural backgrounds together using English. As showed in this study, participants communicate with each other in English but retain their L1 cultural values, as seen in their talkativeness, no tions of authority, and turn taking responsibilities. As speakers co ming from different cultural backgrounds, the idioms they have translated to Englis h might only be understood by the person who shares the same L1 and culture. If we take this present study as an example, with participants coming from three major cu ltural backgrounds (E uropean, Asian and Hispanic), understanding what is said in English must have been very difficult because participants’ sentences were not clear due to grammatical problems and meaning ambiguities. However, participants were some how able to understand each other as there were two people who share the similar cultur e. As a sample, this study provides some insight about the function of In ternational English as the cultural values of participants to the discussions during the reading and writi ng activities. If there had been only one person from each culture, how would they communicate? Furthermore, we need to study the role of technology on communication among international English speakers. The learning environment is changing as a result of technology, for example the international E nglish language learning environment is taking more prominence through the Web (e .g., online English courses) than ELI institutions.

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170 APPENDIX A SCRIPT FOR READING SESSION I want to observe you while you are readi ng text given by your teacher, your discussions with each other and your explan ations of your thinking procedure to your group members outloud. Sharing your ideas with your group members is the most important part of the session. Therefore, I woul d expect you first to read the text on your own and then to commend, to discuss, to ask que stions, to ask for clar ification in order to articulate your and your group members’ ideas. I will be also one of the member of your group. I will tape r ecord the sessions. Let’s begin. (Group members and the researcher (Yildiz Turgut) read the text and share their ideas about the text.)

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171 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR READING SESSION I want to talk to you about your read ing activity that you did with your group members few minutes ago. I am interested in your perceptions of meaning making with your group members while reading the text and how the process of collaboration with a group members impact on meaning maki ng while reading a text in English. 4. I would like to ask you few questions. 5. Describe the process of reading th e text that you just experienced. 6. Describe some benefits of shared reading activity. 7. Describe the difficulties during this reading activity. 8. How did each of you contribute to the reading the text? 9. How did your discussions change your understanding of the text? 10. How do your previous experiences and inte rests assist you in reading the text? 11. How do your culture influence your mean ing making in this reading activity? 12. Is there anything that you would like to add? Do you have any questions or comments? Thank you for your time.

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172 APPENDIX C SCRIPT FOR WRITING SESSION I want to observe you while you are discus sing about your writing assignment that was given by your teacher, your discussions with each other and your explanations of your thinking procedure to your group memb ers outloud. I will be also a group member and we will share our ideas with the group memb ers, which is the most important part of the session. Each paper wr itten by the group members are supposed to be read beforehand. Therefore, I would expect you firs t to talk about your ow n paper and then to commend, to discuss, to ask questions, to ask fo r clarification in orde r to articulate your and your group members’ ideas. I will be also one of the member of your group. I will tape record the sessions. Let’s begin. (Participants will talk about their papers to refresh our memories and share their ideas about them.)

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173 APPENDIX D INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR WRITING SESSION I want to talk to you about your discussi on about writing activity that you did with your group members few minutes ago. I am inte rested in your perc eptions of meaning making with your group members after writi ng your essay and how the process of collaboration with a group members imp act on meaning making for your and others’ writing in English. 13. I would like to ask you few questions. 14. Describe the process of sh aring writing the text th at you just experienced. 15. Describe some benefits of shared writing activity. 16. Describe the difficulties during this writing activity. 17. How did each of you contribute to your writing? 18. How did your discussions change your unde rstanding of your writ ing and others’? 19. How do your previous experiences a nd interests assist you in writing? 20. How does the discussion of the reading te xt in the previous time influence your meaning making through your writing? 21. How does the discussion of the reading te xt in the previous time influence your meaning making through discussion that you had in writing session? 22. How do your culture influence your mean ing making in this writing activity? 23. Is there anything that you would like to add? Do you have any questions or comments? Thank you for your time.

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174 APPENDIX E TRANSCRIPT CONVENTIONS A letter followed by a colon indicates the speaker of the utterance. Y: = Yildiz (researcher from Turkey) O: = Ok (from South Korea) M: = Masami (from Japan) P: = Patricia (from Venezuela) V: = Vanessa (from Honduras) G: = Gosia (from Poland) I: = Isabel (from Switzerland) Italics indicate that the word is in another language ot her than English. => Arrow indicates that the beginning point of discourse analysis in a quotation. [ ] Brackets are used to show how a speaker’s utterance is interrupted by another speaker () Words in parenthesis indicate what the speaker are doing while they speak. ____ Underline represents emphasis (…) Parenthesis with ellipses indicates that a portion of the transcript was omitted. ?? Two question marks represent an inaudible or unintelligible word. = An equal sign is placed in between u tterances that occur simultaneously. / / Words in slashes indicate a qu asi-phonetic spelling of sound produced. All other punctuation is used fo r the convenience of the reader. Words in a box were participants’ summaries.

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175 APPENDIX F READING TEXTS The first reading text: “To Spank or not to Spank” Gainesvillesun.com This is a printer friendly ve rsion of an article from www.gainesvillesun.com To print this articl e open the file menu and choose Print. Back Article published Oct 16, 2002 To spank or not to spank Tina Yokum was angry when her 5-year-old stepson, Michael, shredded a brand new school shirt with a pair of scissors. She counted to 10 and asked the boy if it was the only shirt he destroyed, “if you did this to any other shirt, you have to tell me right now,” she said sternly. “If I find out later that you didn’t tell me the truth, then I’ll spank you.” So when Yokum discovered another ruined shirt the next day, Michael got a spanking. Though spanking is rarely used as a form of discipline by Yokum or her husband, David, she says she is certain the situat ion called for it. Sometimes, she said, a spanking gets the message across when nothing else does. Yokum is hardly the only parent with that opinion. National surveys say four out of five parents turn to spanking at l east occasionally, and many parents’ rights groups believe mom and dad should be left to make that decision. But other parents say spankin g is a form of child abuse and that hitting a child is no better than beating a dog or punching an adult. “Spanking a child does for that child’s development exactly what wife beating does for a marriage,” says Jordan Rlak, founder of Projector No Spank in Oakland, Calif.

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176 Spanking has long been a hot-button issue, and the debate has once again made national news. Jerrry Regier, Gov. Jeb Bush’s choice to head the beleaguered Department of Children & Families, tripped a cultural fuse over his views on spanking. The agency’s previous director resigned afte r months of embarrassments, starting with the agency’s admission in Ap ril that it had lost a child in its care without noticing for more than a year. In August, Regier came under fire for an article he wrote 14 years ago in which he condoned spanking, even when it causes welts and bruises. That goes against the position of the American Academy for Pediatrics, the American Medical Associati on and the American Psychiatr ic Association, all of which firmly oppose spanking. So do the wi dely used teachings of Dr. Benjamin Spock. Still, spanking, a form of corporal punishment, is legal in the United States. Several western European countries hav e outlawed spanking, but surveys suggest 94 percent of Americ an parents spank their childr en by the time they are 3 or 4 years old. That number does not account for the regular ity or severity of the punishment, or the context in which the punishment is delivered. One thing is certain: It’s not an issue that will be clearly resolved any time soon. “It’s an issue that people feel pret ty passionately about,” says Dr. Richard Marshall, a licensed child psychologist and a professor of educational psychology at the University of South Florida. “No ma tter which side of the debate you fall on, you feel strongly about it.” At the heart of the issue is the lin e between corporal punishment and child abuse. Researchers generally define spanking as two swats on the bottom with an open hand, but that doesn’t necessarily refl ect what parents do, especially when they’re angry. “Too often, spanking is done in anger ,” Marshall says. “That line between spanking and abuse is a very narrow one, and it’s easy to cross that line.” State laws on corporal punishment vary Generally, laws state that such punishment is excessive or abusive if it re sults in sprains or broken bones, cuts or lacerations, significant bruises or welts, and permanent or temporary disfigurement, among other injuries.

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177 Corporal punishment remains legal in at least 23 states, and the United States Education Department’s mo st recent data show t hat 365,000 children were paddled in the 1997-98 school year mostly in the South. Marvin Munyon, director of the Family Research Forum, a state lobby in Madison, Wis, says he believes the ant i-spanking group has vilified spanking, making safe, controlled spanking appear to be a form of child abuse. “We’re not doing it to hurt (children) but to send a mess age that there are consequences to their actions,” he says. “I’m talking about spanking a child on their bottom, not… beating a child.” Munyon, a father of three grown children who advocates spanking in situations of extreme bad behavior, used a Ping-Pong paddle to spank his children. “Reasonable, physical discipline of a child is a parental right that ought to be protected,” Munyon says. But anti-spankers like Marshall, who has never spanked his four children and does not condone corporal punishment, believes the rights of a child come first. “We wouldn’t dream of spanking an adult to change their behavior,” he says. “Why should we do that with a little person?”

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178 The second reading text: ”The Baffling Americans” The United States has been compared to a man on a bicycle, who will collapse if he stops pedaling and moving ahead-unlike other, ol der nations, which are what they are immutably, whether standing still, going back ward, or advancing. In its relentless pursuit of ultimate and unreachable perfection, it has been described as a daring experiment, one generation ahead of everybody else, the last word in modernity, the future that works, the next century…. Very few imitators have understood that the secret of the United States’ tremendous success is not merely technology, know -how, the work ethic, or greed. It was a spiritual wind that drove the Americans ir resistibly ahead. Behind their compulsion to improve man’s lot was at first an all-pervad ing religiousness, later the sense of duty, the submission to a God-given code of behavi or, the acceptance of God-given task to accomplish and of all the necessary sacrifices. Few foreigners understand this, even today. The United States looks to them like the triumph of soulless materialism. The religious fervor and Protestant ethic that were so blatantly ev ident in the past are certainly less visible now. But they are still there, even if few Americans mention them…. The American “dream,” the somewhat impr actical knight-errant idealism, must be understood in conjunction with another f undamental, ever-prese nt, and sometimes contradictory American trait: pragmatism. The two don’t always go well together. Pragmatism is the belief that all problems can be solved, combined with the urge to solve al of them in the shortest time…. What does frighten foreigners, Europeans in particular, is Americ a’s impatience. That might also be called impetuosity, ardor, eag erness to apply premature formulas and achieve rapid results. Its origins are obscure. For more than two centuries, foreign visitors to the United States have noticed with awe that its inhabitants are all anxiously rushing about always in a great hurry, and many of themJefferson, for inst ance-have tirelessly invented time-saving devices. Whether Americans are really always in a hurry, more in a hurry than other busy industrialized people, mo re say, than Germans or the Japanese, is of course, debatable. American trains and wa iters have always been mush slower than European ones; American drivers surely do not go as fast as Italians. Where was and is the fire? Perhaps pragmatic Americans consider life with problems unacceptable. They believe that all problems not only must be solved but that they can be solved, and that, in fact, the main purpose of a man’s life is the solution of problems…. If each problem has a solution, why lose time, why not find it immedi ately, now today? All it takes, in most cases, is an assemblage of eminent and tale nted specialists, scient ists, and professors from the right universities with enough mone y and time-not too much time, of course-and the answer will emerge.

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179 The third reading text: In the Classroom Life Experience UF STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT LIFE BY STUDYING THE CULTURE OF DEATH. ELIZABETH SHURIK (4JM) Susan BluckRachel Visschers already knows about death. The UF senior lost her father, Rudy, to lung can cer in 2002. He was just 52. Yet Visschers chose to immerse herself in the culture of death last fall when she took Susan Bluck’s Death and Dying course at UF. Now the class has Visschers thinking about life. “We spoke about how it is to lose a father, and one of the questions was, ‘Do you reflect on your life regularly?’” says Visschers, who discovered several classmates who had lost siblings and friends, including one who was also dealing with the loss of a parent. “Because we both lost people, the answer was, ‘All the time.’” Bluck, an assistant professor in the Center for Gerontological Studies and the Department of Psychology, says she hopes to educate her 20-plus students about the many facets of death and how death affects each of us every day. This includes dismantling taboos as well as raising awareness of quality of life at the end of life. While the curriculum focuses on death and life, students often walk away from the course with a better understanding of themselves. Bluck often engages her students in candid discussions about death at the personal and societal level. Close to September 11, for instance, they talked about war and terrorism. From then on, that tone created a basis for frank discussions about many facets of death, often controversial. “All of us are going to have this happen to us,” she says. “All of us are touched by death right now in one way or the other.” Bluck sees death as a time of potential growth. She says there is no way to overcome the emotional, mortal and real side of the last stage of life. It’s not something you just “get over,” she says. Bluck, who came to UF four years ago from Berlin, actually revived a Death and Dying course previously taught by UF professor emeritus Hannelore Wass. Bluck has taken his concept and added many of her own topics, including homicide, suicide, care-giving, quality of life and biomedical research. Bluck even has the students write their own obituaries. And oddly enough, it’s an exercise the students enjoy. Choosing how to die was the hardest part for Visschers and her classmate, senior Kristen Viverto. In the end, Viverto decided she’ll be hit by a car. Mirroring her father’s death, Visschers chose cancer. “I think it’s a good reflection on life because it makes you realize what’s important in life and what you want to be,” Visschers says of the project. Going into the course, Bluck says she had certain expectations for undergraduate students — they might not be familiar with death or ready to discuss it so openly. The range of experience in the class, however, surprised her. “The students are responding really well. I love doing this,” she says. “It’s sort of funny to say that it’s fun teaching a death and dying class, but I enjoy it. I’m doing something that’s meaningful.” — Staci Zavattaro (4JM)

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180 APPENDIX G PARTICIPANTS’ WRITING SAMPLES Isabel 29 March 05 Summary (first draft) Luigi Barzini Group 1 The text, written by Luigi Barzini is about US culture and the perception foreigners have of it. Americans are alwa ys going forwards, without taking any break, and it makes them being ahead of the other nations. The source of their energy to archive goals was at first their religiousness, which accustomed them to try everything to solve their problems. Americans also have two main characteristic s that makes them different from the other cultures: the American dream, th at makes them try to reach perfection, and pragmatism, that helps them to get effici ently the solution to a problem. Foreigners, especially Europeans, are very surprise d by Americans’ eagerness to get results, sometimes without taking time to think. However, that is what makes the US so advanced. This text was for me difficult to unders tand because it is taken out of a book, and therefore the reader can’t follow the author’s id eas in detail. Thus, I can’t say if I am pro or con his opinion. However, the topic is interesting, and makes us think about our experience in the USA.

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181 Isabel April 4, 2005 Summary (second draft) Luigi Barzini Gr #1 The text, written by Luigi Barzini, is a bout American culture and the perception foreigners have of it. Americans are alwa ys going forwards, without taking any break, and it makes them be ahead of the other nations. The source of their energy to achieve goals was at first their religiousness, which accustomed them to try everything to solve their problems. Nowadays, Americans have tw o main characteristics that make them different from the other cultures: the Amer ican dream, that makes them try to reach perfection, and pragmatism, that helps them to get efficiently the solution to a problem. Foreigners, especially Europeans, are very surprised by American s’ eagerness to get results, sometimes without taking time to thi nk. However, that is what makes this country so advanced. This text is difficult for me to unde rstand because it is taken out of a book, therefore the reader cannot follow the author’s ideas in detail. However, the topic is interesting. It makes us think about our expe rience in the country. Contrarily to the author’s opinion, I think, after 8 months of observations, that Ameri cans are not in hurry. They have always time to go to a baseball ga me, watch their favorit e television show, or cut the front yard’s grass. Moreover, cashier s and waiters are the slowest I have ever seen. It is true that a few people, such as businessmen, do not have much free time and work a lot, even when they do not need to. Ho wever, the reason is not only "religious." I think that this type of Americans immerge th emselves into their wo rk because they are obsessed with money, success and power. They ar e so materialistic that they forget to live.

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182 Masami Summary (first draft) 3/29/05 Group#1 An article we read in our first discussi on is about American identity. It is written by Luigi Brazini. The author described Ameri ca as a man on a bicycle always pedaling and moving ahead. Because America chase the u ltimate and the unreachable perfection of their goal relentlessly. It is one of the reason why America successes as most developed country. Second reason is because of their work ethic and greed. It is compulsion for American like all-pervading religiousness, sense of duty, the submission to God-given code of behavior, the accepta nce of a God-given task to achievement and of all the necessary sacrifices. As an American ch aracteristic, the author mentions about Pragmatism which is the belief that all problems can be solved and the impulse to solve all of them as soon as possible. Foreigners are surprised about Americans impatience. Americans are always in a great hurry. It can be impetuosity, ardor, and eagerness to apply incomplete formulas and achieve rapid results. Americans are more hurry than industrialized countries people such as Germ ans or Japanese. For American the main purpose of their life is resolution of problems. After I read this articl e I felt that I don’t think Americ ans are always in a hurry and impetuosity. They are rather than patient for me, especially for Japanese. For example, they can wait in the restaurants and at the bus stop for long time. And at the Cafe shops, convenience stores and cell phone shops, they don’t change th eir selling goods so often. This is best way to survive in Japanese soci ety. Because Japanese really like new things.

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183 In Japan almost every day they put new products in their shops to attract customers. After 1 or 2 weeks, the goods suddenly disappear. It is much faster than American does. In this way I feel American doesn ’t chase ultimate relentlessly.

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184 Masami Summary (second draft) 3/31/05 Group#1 The article we read for our first discussi on is about American iden tity. It is written by Luigi Barzini. The author describes Ameri ca as a man on a bicycle always pedaling and moving ahead. There are two reason why America succeeds as the most developed country. One of the reasons is Americans chase the ultimate and the unreachable perfection of their goal relentle ssly. The second reason is th eir work ethic and greed, so they are compulsion for American like re ligiousness and sense of obligation. As an American characteristic, the author menti ons Pragmatism which is the belief that all problems can be solved and the impulse to so lve all of them as soon as possible. Also, foreigners are surprised about Americans’ im patience. Americans are always in a great hurry. It can be impetuosity, ardor, and eag erness to apply incomplete formulas and achieve rapid results. Americans hurry more than industrialized count ries’ people such as Germans or Japanese. For American the ma in purpose of their life is resolution of problems. After I read this article that I don’ t think Americans are always in a hurry and impetuosity. They are rather more than pa tient for me, especially for Japanese. For example, they can wait in the restaurants and at the bus stop for a long time. At the Cafe shops, convenience stores and cell phone shops, they don’t ch ange their selling goods so often. This is best way to survive in Japane se society, because Japanese really like new

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185 things. In Japan almost every day they put new products in their shops to attract customers. After 1 or 2 weeks, the goods s uddenly disappear. It is much faster than American does. In this way I feel Ameri can people don’t chase ul timate relentlessly.

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186 Gosia 03/29/05 Summary (first draft) The text that we had to write during Monday’s meeting basically discusses about American culture. The point of this text is to show how and why American culture differs form other cultures. In this text we can find a few examples of differences between American peoples and other nations. Also we can find information about basics of the American identity. For example one of them is the truth that Americans are pragmatic. The author of this text is supporting his id eas by bringing up the f acts form history. I think that this text was very intere sting, because now I know that I am not the only person who thinks that even though we live in a global world we differ from each other. Being a foreigner in the USA is not easy and I think that people shouldn’t express their opinions about American culture if th ey have never been in this country.

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187 Gosia 03/31/05 Summary (second draft) The text that we had to read duri ng Monday’s meeting was written by Luigi Barzini. This text talks about American culture. The point of th is text is to show how and why American culture differs from other cu ltures. In this text we can find a few examples of differences between Americ an people and other nations. The most highlighted in the text are: American people’ s way of solving problems, their impatience, and the fact that generally th ey are in a hurry. Also, we can find information about basics of the American identity. For example, one of them is the truth that Americans are pragmatic. The author of this text is s upporting his ideas by bringing up the facts from history. He tries to show th e connection between the American people’s way of acting in the past with their religiousness. I think that this text was very intere sting, because now I know that I am not the only person who thinks that even though we live in a global world, we differ from each other. Being a foreigner in the USA is not easy and I think that people shouldn’t express their opinions about American culture if th ey have never been in this country.

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188 Yildiz Turgut 29 March 2005 Summary (first draft) Reading text: Luigi Barzini Group1 (Isabel, Gosia, Kyung Ok, Masami, Yildiz) Cultural Identity The text taken from a book explains the characteristics of American people and culture. One of the characteristic is: always moving and going forward; being impatient and producing time saving gadgets besides bein g idealistic and pragmatics at the same time. According to the author, the American sp irituality is the base for the success. This spirituality includes believing to God, accepti ng the God given duty and responsibility to accomplish this task. The author further explains how the Americans practicality and idealism makes them different from other nations, such as Germans, Japanese, and Europeans. That is, the Americans perspectiv e of life creating an environment eliminated from any problem. Therefore, even though the American waiters and drivers considered to other nations are slow, there is minimu m or no problem during the service time. In other words, this is the way American practicality and idealism are unified. The author takes a distance position while presenting the topic: he/she presents what the outsiders such as Europeans and othe r nations think about th e characteristics of the Americans. The author’s role in the text is to teach and clarify the points about the American culture to foreigners. As the text is taken from a book, I guess, it is difficult to understand the order of the ideas presented in the text as it is only a part of the whole text.

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189 Vanessa April 5, 2005 Summary (first draft) Learning life by Studying the Culture of Death The article we read in yesterday’s class talked about a course imparted in the University of Florida by Susan Bluck, an assistant professor in the center of Gerontological Studies and the department of Psychology. The name of this unusual course is Death and Dying. Her goal is to teach the many aspects of death by dismantling this taboo, and how death affects each person in daily basis. She tries to generate outspoken, sincere, wide-open and often contr oversial discussions in each class. This class helps not only those people who had expe riences related with death but also those who are not familiar with it. I found interesting this topic. In my cultu re and religion its very common to talk about death but I had never seen it as a class or a course. In my case I would be interested in taking this course. I think for a psychol ogist it is important to know the different perceptions every culture and re ligion has about death to be able to help people deal with it. Even though I have this special interest in psychology, I think th is course could be helpful to everyone. Death is something we all have in common, and sooner or later will touch our life in a special way. Everyone must seek ways and prepare themselves to overcome this type of experience. Last year I lost my grandparents (my mom’s parents). I think for all my family was very hard to deal with. But in my case, even though it was something I knew it could happen, was like a shoc k and it really mark a difference in my life. Still today I always th ink about that moment and the hard it was to say goodbye. I am really sure they are better there (heaven) than here but my selfishness make me feel sad for not having them with me. I think life is like a challenge, ever y day we had lived is a won battle. For me, since that sad experience, has helped me realized and treasure every little thing a have. I will neve r forget that moment, not even relieve the pain I feel, but I’m trying to be a better person and give in life all what I can to the people I love.

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190 Patricia April 5th, 2005 Summary (first draft) “Life Experience” is the title of an article read yesterday in class, which was published in a UF magazine. The topic is not usual. It is about a course imparted by The University of Florida where psychology students learn about life and death. Those classes are taught by Susan Bluck, an assistant professor in the Center for Geront ological Studies and the D epartment of Psychology. She says her goal with this uncommon course is letting people to know more about death and how this taboo topic can influence us; it also provides students to see the verb “to die” from another perspective, to understand better its meaning. Bluck th inks death is not a theme that we can avoid; that it will happen someday, and that is what she w ants to bring to her student s; she wants them to be ready in the future to talk and discuss it in an open way. I think, even though, this is an strange course and way to see death with another eyes, it is very helpful for those people who don’t like to talk about this important issue, for those who getting over the loss a loved has been hard, and for prepari ng students to affront future deaths even, your own. Honestly, I wouldn’t take it. I don’t think I need it because, first of all, I haven’t lost a close relative. Thank God!; and also because I am not afraid to talk about it, If I have to, I just do it; but I wouldn’t like to discuss this that often. I thin k is depressing. If I good major in Death and Dying, what job could I get? Perhaps in a Rehabilitat ion Center for people that are depressed because somebody close to her/him died. My opinion about death? I agree with Susan Bluck. In my opinion it will take place someday, early or late; it’s norma l if we were born; I see it as something fair and necessary, something that we shouldn’t be afraid of.

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191 Kyung Ok 04/05/2005 Summary (first draft) The article written by Staci Zavattaro pr esents the UF class dealt with the culture of death. Susan Bluck who is an assistant professor in the center for Gerontological Studies and the Department of Psychology teaches Death and Dying course at UF. In the class, she treats vari ous aspects of death with objective concepts which are already taught by UF professor emer itus Hannelore Wass. Also, she talks about many experiences of death and how they aff ect on human's life with her students. Even some students' obituaries are dealt with duri ng class. She lets her students think about death which nobody can shun and reflects on th eir own lives thorough this class. In my case, I have never imagined this kind of class in my country. So it was unfamiliar story for me. Everybody has his own thought about death or the end of life. Also, we might have experiences to talk about this topic whet her it's done by in private or public. If this class could be an opportunity to think about life and death, I would be interested in this.

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219 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Yildiz Turgut was born in Izmir, Turke y. She received her bach elor’s degree in teaching English as a foreign language from the Middle East T echnical University, Ankara, Turkey, and her master’s degree in the curriculum and instruction with ESOL endorsement from College of Education of the University of Florida. She also received minors in applied linguistic s and educational psychology, and a specialization in educational technology from Un iversity of Florida.


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SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING BY ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
FROM DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS















By

YILDIZ TURGUT


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Yildiz Turgut



























This dissertation is dedicated to my family.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research could not have been completed without the cooperation of the

English Language Institute (ELI) and the advance level of reading and writing class, who

accepted to be in this study. I wish to thank the reading and writing teacher for letting me

work with him closely and six participants who accepted to participate to this present

study. Without their support and participation, this research would not have been

complete.

I also must thank my doctoral committee members, Drs. Danling Fu, Zhihui Fang,

Roger Thompson and Mirka Koro-Ljungberg for their invaluable support during the

process of conducting and writing up this study. Each, in his/her own field of expertise,

has contributed greatly to my development as a professional.

I also appreciate my study group for their support and enormous help. Jennifer

Graff, Ivy Hsieh, Takako Ueno, Jennifer Sanders and Erica Eisenberg, have all helped me

through one of the most challenging endeavors in my life.

Finally, I thank my parents and my fiance for their patience and encouragement

through the past five years, which has been the source of my strength. My sister who is

advancing in the same academic field deserves special thanks. She read my work several

times and encouraged me to do better and better. I could not have done without you all.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

LIST O F TA B LE S .............. ......................................... .. .... .. ............. viii

LIST OF FIGURES ......... ........................................... ............ ix

A B ST R A C T .......... ..... ...................................................................................... x

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

W hat is Talking? ................................. ............................... ..............
Significance of The Study .............. ................ ........... ........... ............... 4
Social Constructionist Language Learning Theory .............................................5
Interactive Language Learning........................................ ...............7
Social Constructionist Qualitative Research .................................................... 10

2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ........................................................ .............. 12

Social Constructionism and Language Learning................................ .................. 12
Language Learning Through Interaction..................................... ......... .............. 15
Nonnative Speaker-Nonnative Speaker(s) Talk ...............................................21
Talking related to reading ........................................ ........................ 25
T walking related to w writing ........................................................ ................ .. 33
Group Dynamics in Nonnative Speaker- Nonnative Speaker(s) Talk.................40
Speakers' language proficiency level ................................. ............... 40
Speakers' cultural discourses................................................ .................. 41

3 M E T H O D O L O G Y ............................................................................ ................... 44

Theoretical Orientation ........................ ........ ............... .. ............... 44
Purpose of The Study and Research Questions .................................. ............... 47
Subjectivity Statem ent .................. ............................. ...... .. .. ........ .... 48
T h e P ilot S tu dy ...................................................................... 5 0
Findings ..................................... ................................ ........... 53
Im p lic atio n s ..................................................................... 5 4
T h e S ettin g ................................. ....................................................... ............... 5 6









P a rtic ip a n ts ........................................................................................................... 5 7
D ata C o lle ctio n ..................................................................................................... 6 1
Participant O observation ............................................... ............................ 64
In terv iew s ............................................................6 6
A rchival D ata C collection .......................................................... ............... 67
F eedb ack S session ............ .... ............................................................ ...... ..... .. 67
D discourse A analysis ..................................... ......... ...... ........ .. 67
V a lid ity ..............................................................................7 3
L im itatio n s ...........................................................................................7 5

4 LINGUISTIC PATTERN OF DISCUSSION..................................................77

Language as the Focus in R leading ...................... ..................... ................. .... 78
Differences Between First Language and English Inhibit Decoding
W words .................................... .................. ........ .. ............... 79
Participants' English Morphology and Lexicon Proficiency Level
Influence D ecoding W ords ................... ... ................................... 81
Language as the Focus in W writing ................... ..................... ..................... .... 83
Differences in Syntactic Structures of First Language and English.............89
Challenges in Translating Culturally Embedded Concepts and Idioms
from First Language to English ....................... .............................. 92
Participants' Explorations About Their Language Learning with a Linguistic
Focus ......... .......... ................................... ............ ............. 94
Becoming Aware of Language Fossilizations ...............................................95
Learning New Vocabulary and Representation Ways......................................96
Practicing Whole Language Skills .................................................... 98
Role of English Language Proficiency Level in Talking ...............................101

5 SOCIAL PATTERN OF DISCUSSION ............ .............................................104

Cultural D differences and D discussion ................................. ............ ................... 105
H ierarchy in Society .................. ............................ .... .. .. .. ........ .. 110
D irectness vs. Indirectness ................................................... ............... ... 113
Education System .................. .............................. .. ...... .. .......... ..116
R religion ........................................12 1
From Cultural Differences to Group Bounding....................................................... 124
Group-bounding Identity as "Foreigners".............. ................................ 125
Participants' Roles in the Group ........................................... ................... 130
Gram m ar analyst ..................................... ...... ........................131
C cultural attache ................................... .......... .............. .... ......... 134
G rou p active ator............. ................................................. ..... ...... ....... 137
Participants' Explorations About Their Language Learning with Social Focus ......140
Interaction is a Way of Learning ....... ............................................140
Transition to Student-Centered Learning .............. ...................................145
Developing a Sense of Audience in Their Writing ..................................148









6 IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION............................................. 152

Interactive Language Learning ...................................................................... 152
R response A ability ................................................ .. .. .. ...... ........... 153
S c a ffo ld in g .................................................................................................. 1 5 4
F feedback ..................................................................156
Interdependence of Reading, Writing and Talking...............................158
Focus on Form vs. Focus on M eaning.................................... ............... 161
First Language and English .................................................... ...... ......... 161
T teaching Im plications .................................... .......... ........................... 163
R research Im plications......... .......................................................... .. ........ ..... 165

APPENDIX

A SCRIPT FOR READING SESSION ..................................................170

B INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR READING SESSION................... ............171

C SCRIPT FOR W RITIN G SESSION ............................................. .....................172

D INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR WRITING SESSION............... .... ............173

E TRANSCRIPT CONVENTIONS ........................................ ........................ 174

F R E A D IN G T E X T S ...................................................................... .......................175

G PARTICIPANTS' WRITING SAMPLES .................................... ...............180

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ...................................................................... ..................... 193

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ........................................ ............................................219
















LIST OF TABLES


Table p

3 1 P a rtic ip a n ts ........................................................................................................... 5 9

3-2. Weekl, Groupl: Hispanic & European Participants (Patricia, Vanessa, Isabel and
G o sia ) ..............................................................................6 3

3-3. Week 2, Group 2: Asian & European Participants (KyungOk, Masami, Isabel and
G o sia ) ..............................................................................6 3

3-4. Week3, Group3: Hispanic & Asian Participants (Patricia, Vanessa, KyungOk and
M a sa m i) ....... .................................. .. ......................................................6 4

3-5. Week 4: Feedback session, all participants (Masami, KyungOk, Gosia, Isabel,
Patricia, Vanessa) ............. ..... ........ ................ ..........64

4-1.The roots of languages (Leon, 2006)...................................................79

4-2. Isabel's summary about American culture........................ .................... 87

4-3. Masami's summary about American culture.................... ........... ............... 87

4-4. Gosia's summary about American culture ...................................... ............... 90

4-5. Gosia's revised summary about American culture.........................................91

4-6. Vanessa's summary about death and dying course ...............................................91

4-7. Patricia's summary about death and dying course ............................................. 93

4-8.KyungOk's summary about death and dying course .............................................94

5-1. A part from Vanessa's summary about the death and dying course: .................131

5-2. Patricia's summary about death and dying, second paragraph..............................133
















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure p

1-1 A model of the continuum of talk (Rubin, 1990)................... ..................................4

2-1 Theoretical framework of this present study ........................................................12

4-1 Traditional way of teaching reading and writing through talking (Kern, 2003)......98

4-2 R leading and w writing in this study..................................................... ... ........... 99















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING BY ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
FROM DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS

By

Yildiz Turgut

May 2006

Chair: Danling Fu
Major Department: Teaching and Learning

This qualitative study describes the meaning making process of English language

learners with different cultural backgrounds during reading and writing activities based

on a social constructionism theoretical framework. The data were collected through

participant observations, interviews, archival documents and a feedback session. Six

participants are from Venezuela, Honduras, Poland, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan.

As a researcher, I was a participant with a Turkish cultural background. Through James

Gee's macro and micro discourse analysis, the findings indicate that reading and writing

discussions unite participants despite cultural and linguistics differences. Due to the

culture, Asian participants' perception of classroom talk is to teach knowledge they are

sure of whereas European and Hispanic participants consider it as a brainstorming tool

that they learn together. Gradually, participants have constructed a group identity and

served to the group through different roles. Towards the end of the study Asian

participants became more talkative even on a topic considered taboo in their culture.









Through reading the writing of other participants, awareness of an audience developed in

their writing. Also, peer corrections and suggestions have been considered more

meaningful and easier to remember compared to the teacher's corrections. Even though

participants' previous experiences on English language learning were based on focus on

form, through this study they both focused on form and meaning. The implications of this

study indicate that teachers should be aware of the importance of learning students'

cultural backgrounds. We can inform Asian participants about the multifarious purposes

of having discussion, which include brainstorming and thinking together not simply

replacing the teacher. Applying small-group activities might be used as a transition

period for those learners to speak in class. Small-group activities help them to share their

ideas with few members first and then to share and verbalize in front of the whole class.

For teachers who do not use group activities (e.g., this teacher) and who might considered

reading and writing activities as separate from conversation (e.g., this teacher), this study

can provide a guide to help them understand and apply collaborative activities in their

classroom. Researchers need to investigate in more detail where and when we should

apply group work activities so that it will be more helpful to students' language learning

during reading and writing. Through a longitude study the transition from the

participants' second/foreign language acquisition to literacy development should be

observed. This way the long term effects of group discussions on reading and writing can

be better understood. More advanced research might evaluate different, non-traditional,

classroom arrangements and the effect of these arrangements on student behavior as well

as the overall learning process. This kind of research might provide information about the

role of teachers and student training.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Historically, the theoretical framework of English language teaching moved from

behaviorist to cognitive and recently from constructivist to social constructionism (Flood

et al., 2004). According to the social constructionist perspective, language learners create

their own meanings through interactions with others in the classroom. However, in most

cases this theoretical movement has rarely been transferred into practice. For instance,

classroom observations conducted at the English Language Institute (ELI) of the

University of Florida during 2002-2004 indicated that especially during the grammar and

reading and writing classes, teacher talk dominated the class time rather than student talk.

While covering the topics in reading and writing classes, teachers spent more time on

lecturing than any group or pair work activities. Therefore, students had few chances to

speak out in the class except for asking questions or requesting clarifications, and these

opportunities to speak were within the framework of a teacher-centered classroom. This

dominance of teacher talk is also reported in other studies (i.e., Berducci, 1993; Christoph

& Nystrand, 2001; Duffy, 1981; Goodlad, 1984; Gutierrez, 1993, 1994; Gutierrez &

Larson, 1994; Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991, 1997; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). Also,

during my observations of the advanced level reading and writing class at the ELI, I

realized that students in this class wrote "for the teacher" not even "to the teacher."

Writing "for the teacher" indicates that students do the writing to accomplish the task

given by the teacher. Writing "to the teacher" indicates that students consider their

teacher as an audience in their writing and considering their audience (their teacher) they









perform the writing task. "Writing to the teacher" shows that students know that

somebody (their teacher) will read it; therefore, they have an audience in mind while

doing the writing task. Hence, writing is a mean of communication and meaningful task

to do. As I have learned English as a foreign language, I am aware of the fact that writing

in English is thought of as an exercise in proving competence in grammar, sentence

completion, and paragraphing. In most cases these exercises are done as individually

rather than a group work. Observing the similar teaching ways at the ELI, made me

questioned where this practice fits into the theoretical movement from constructivism to

social constructionism?

My observations revealed that interactive language learning was not applied in the

teacher-centered classroom. Through interactive language learning several language

skills can be combined, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. However, based

on the curriculum of the ELI, these language skills are paired as reading and writing, and

speaking and listening (ELI, 2005). Therefore, the implementation of activities where all

language skills are emphasized in one class or not depends on the teacher and the

characteristics of classroom activities. Even though reading and writing are separated

from listening and speaking, students can still have a chance to practice all language

skills through creating discussion environments. At the ELI, students with different

cultural backgrounds can share their linguistic and cultural experiences with each other,

which might enhance their understanding of reading texts and improve their writing

through each other's feedback. In such an environment how do students make meaning of

the reading texts and scaffold each other to write better?









There is a general trend in education to move from a teacher-centered to a student-

centered learning environment-it is not limited to trends in English language learning.

However, due to limited class time, the number of topics that teachers must cover, in

addition to being expected to prepare students to take the TOEFL and GRE exams,

teachers have relied on the teacher-centered approach, especially lecturing format. In

reading and writing classes, teacher-lecture format is employed more frequently than

student-centered group discussions.

Considering these three general points (social constructionism, interactive language

learning and student-centered approach) related to English language learning at the ELI,

there is a need for a study which investigates the process of ESL learners' interaction

within small groups during advanced level reading and writing classes at the ELI in

University of Florida.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the advanced level ELI students'

meaning-making process in small group interactions during reading and writing. Based

on this research purpose, the following research questions will be asked:

1. How do English language learners' linguistic knowledge of L1 and English
influence discussions?

2. How do students' language and cultural experiences influence their interactions
during discussions?

3. How does interactive language learning interfere language learning?

What is Talking?

Talk is not just a form of social action; it is also a social mode of thinking by which

humans can jointly construct knowledge and understanding (Mercer, 1995). Human

beings use talk to give ideas a form of reality, to dispute them, to share them and develop

them together; they use language to construct cultures. People collectively create and









establish language practices for doing so. Talking creates a capability for organizing

ways of thinking together (Mercer, 1996).

One way to describe talk is to think about the range of audiences with whom we

can interact (Rubin, 1990). When we talk to another person one-on-one, it is characterized

as personal conversation; if the conversation includes several individuals we know, it is

characterized as small group discussion (Rubin,1990).

Types of Talk

Inner Conversation Small Group Recitation Broadcasting
Speech Discussion
INFORMAL FORMAL

Self Spontaneous Spontaneous Talk with Technologically
Talk with an Talk with Large Group Mediated Talk
Individual Individuals with Extended
Audience
Audience

Figure 1-1. A model of the continuum of talk (Rubin, 1990).

Discussion is a forum of collaboratively constructing meaning and for sharing

responses (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). It refers to interactive events in which individuals

collaboratively construct meaning or consider alternative interpretations of text in order

to arrive at new understandings (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). In this present study the

terms discussion and talk will be used interchangeably.

Significance of The Study

This study will contribute to at least three areas within the growing field of English

language-learning research. First, this study explores the possibilities in transforming

theory into practice by applying social constructionist and student-centered learning

within a classroom. Second, there is a need to combine all language skills (talking,

reading, writing) in language learning classes as several studies reveal that all skills









contribute to each other and to general language learning. Lastly, in the field of English

language teaching and learning there is a need for a qualitative study based on a social

constructionist theoretical framework in which participants will contribute to not only

data collection but also data analysis. Unlike previous studies, in this study incorporates

the participants' contribution into both the collection and analysis of data, thus

maximizing participant input that gives educators more insights into the interaction

process.

Social Constructionist Language Learning Theory

There is a need for the transfer from theory to practice in terms of applying social

constructionist and student-centered learning in English language learning classrooms.

While learning a language, students not only learn the language from a linguistic

perspective-linguistic competence (Chomsky,1965)-but they also learn language from

cultural perspective-communicative competence (Hymes, 1967). While reading a text in

English, language learners need to be equipped not only with the linguistic knowledge

(syntax, semantics, morphology), but also with cultural referrals (Gee, 1992). Cultural

referrals are what the author refers to and what it means in the target cultural context.

Moreover, as Rosenblatt (1978) indicates, what a reader understands from a text

can vary among readers because of their different background knowledge and

experiences. If a reading text is discussed, each participant (because he/she is coming

from a different cultural background) can provide new meanings, as a result of which

new meanings are constructed within a group through discussions and negotiations

(Anderson & Roit, 1996; Garcia, 1993; Gersten, 1996; Kong & Pearson, 2003). In that

sense, this study can provide a discourse for the meaning making process of a reading

text by ELI students coming from different language and cultural backgrounds.









There is a growing body of research in small group interactions in ESL studies

(Alvermann, 1995, 1996; Bridges, 1988; Ellsworth, 1989; Goldbatt & Smith, 1995;

Gore,1993; Grant, 1996). Studies about native speakers' interactions within a group

(e.g., Hinchman & Young, 2001), indicate that students might feel oppressed when they

speak and discover disagreement, disinterest, or disapproval in others' reactions to their

words. Then, what happens in the case of nonnative speakers' interactions when they

discover disagreement, disapproval in other group members' reactions to their

comments? These socio-cultural issues embedded in language learning should be

investigated further within their discourses. In that sense, this study can provide insights

to both English language teachers and learners enrolled in similar programs like the ELI

that will guide them in their classroom activities.

Studies indicate that small group work provides a greater variety of discourse

moves in initiating discussions, asking for clarification, interrupting, competing for the

floor, and joking (Long et al., 1994; Almasi, 1995; DeLuca, 2004). However, in regards

to group work, studies focus mainly on individuals' gains as an end product of interaction

with other group members (Long et al., 1994; Pica et al., 1989; Swain, 1993; Markee,

2000; Turner & Paris, 1995). However, rather than individual gains, the gains of

language learners as a group in reading and writing through the group interaction remains

to be more carefully examined.

Group work usually demands that students with different cultural backgrounds be

paired either randomly (Schwartz, 1980) or according to their language proficiency. Their

cultural backgrounds are often ignored in these studies. Considering this is an ignored

field, studying the interactions of participants with different cultural backgrounds allows









for the possibility of understanding and theorizing cross cultural interaction. To achieve

such understanding, the following questions must be answered: how does culture

influence language learning and interaction? Can cultural differences be turned into

group unity? If so, how does it happen?

Interactive Language Learning

There is a need to combine all language skills in language learning class activities

as more and more studies reveal that all language skills contribute to each other and to

general language learning. Several studies have proved that talking have a positive

impact on other language skills, which enhance language learning, such as reading

comprehension (Almasi, 1995; Galda et al., 2000; Rodriguez-Garcia, 2000) and writing

(Britton, 1975; Hillocks, 1986; Kennedy, 1983; Sweigart, 1991; Zoellner, 1969). This is

the case at different levels of age and language proficiency (Brooks & Swain, 2001;

Kowal & Swain, 1997). Likewise, combining different language skills through

interaction (Edelsky et al., 1983) enables learners to produce different kinds of output,

which is also an important factor in acquiring language. Such output and input should be

provided in a meaningful language learning environment (Swain, 2002). Discussions and

meaning making can provide an optimal language learning environment (Long, 1980;

Long & Porter, 1985; Pica & Doughty, 1985a; Varonis & Gass, 1985) in which students

of different skill levels participate collaboratively in order to accomplish tasks, such as

discovering a text's linguistic and cultural background information. Also, interactive

language learning helps students to combine academic language and basic

communication language skills.

Studies in the field of second language reading and writing that focus on the role of

talking in reading activities report that students who are given the opportunity to work in









discussion groups have better reading comprehension (Rodriguez-Garcia, 2001; Yano et

al., 1994), vocabulary gain (Ruddell, 1994; Klinger & Vaughn, 2000) and learner

autonomy (Alvermann, O'Brien, &Dillon, 1990; O'Flahavan, 1989; Slavin, 1990;

Prawat, 1989; Eeds & Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Gambrell &Almasi, 1996; Almasi, 1995;

Almasi & Gambrell, 1994; Eeds &Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Sweigart, 1991; Martinez, et

al.,1992; McGee, 1992). Talking can be performed during different stages in the writing

process, such as at the beginning to clarify topics and attempt pre-writing activities

(Sweeigart, 1991); in the middle, during composition of a piece of writing (Storch, 2000,

2001a, 2001b); and at the end, during revision and editing processes (Villamil & de

Guerrero, 1998, 2000; Tang & Tithecott, 1999; Paulus, 1999; Storch, 1999). Studies that

focused on revisions (e.g., Storch, 1999) conclude that collaborative revision provided

more benefit to learners.

All these studies indicate three major points: first, reading-talking and writing-

talking are considered separately in the research field, but not the interrelation of reading

and writing through talking; secondly, related to this separateness, talking before writing

and after writing (for revision) has not been combined and investigated in a research; last,

whether collaborative revision is more beneficial to learners than pair work (Storch,

1999), and what is its implications might mean. Therefore, we need to know what

happens if students read a text in a group. Then, research must examine what happens

after discussing, as they write about it and then revise what they have written through

discussion. Earlier studies have only provided inquiries into half of this problem, so the

this study allows us to see how talking plays a role both in reading and writing activities

which are interrelated with each other.









In the literature of second language acquisition, studies indicate that when students

with lower and higher level language proficiency are paired, surprisingly less proficient

ones have been shown to help more proficient ones (Kowal &Swain, 1997). Recently,

this comparison of lower and higher proficiency level has gained a more specific focus,

examining how even in the same language proficiency level, students' language

proficiency level varies (Rodriguez-Garcia, 2001). Also, native speakers' scaffolding

nonnative speakers has been widely studied (Long, 1985, 1996; Peregoy & Boyle, 2001;

Brown, 2000; Lightbown & Spada, 2001). Compared to native-nonnative interaction

even though students' negotiate more in nonnative-nonnative interaction (Varonis &

Gass, 1985), there is limited research about it. Then, how do both less and more

proficient nonnative students belonging to the same general proficiency level contribute

to each other's learning?

Storch (2000, 2001a, 2001b) and DiCamilla and Anton (1997) indicate that when

students are paired, each participant takes a role. Storch's categorization of these roles

based on equality (authority over the task) and mutuality (level of engagement with each

other's contribution) indicate four different combinations: collaborative,

dominant/dominant, dominant/passive and expert/novice. Additionally, related to

grouping, the literature (Dillon, 1994; Potter & Anderson, 1976; Spear, 1993) suggests

some possible roles that might be assigned to the participants by the teacher such as being

a note taker, controller, so forth. However, I wonder, if students are given a chance to

decide on their own, what kind of roles naturally emerge during those interactions; what

kind of roles participants took on their own when they are grouped instead of being

paired? Through the roles they have chosen, how do they scaffold each other?









Social Constructionist Qualitative Research

In the field of English language teaching and learning there is a need for a

qualitative study based on a social constructionist theoretical perspective in which

participants contribute not only to the process of data collection, but also to the data

analysis to show how social constructionist language learning activities, process and

research are embedded within each other. Studies examining the peer interaction, social

constructionism and discourse include mixed-method studies that incorporate both

qualitative and quantitative methods (i.e., Rodriguez-Garcia, 2000; Kong & Pearson,

2003; Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991); however, there are not enough studies that are totally

qualitative. For example, Hinchman and Young (2001) examined the peer interaction of

two adolescent native speakers of English students (one white male, and one African-

American female) with their classmates under the social constructionist theoretical

framework and employed critical discourse analysis. However, the participants had a

minor role in the research. In other words, they were not involved in the data analysis

process. Therefore, there is a need for further investigation of small group interaction of

participants who are coming from various cultural backgrounds within nonnative-

nonnative speaker discourse (Glew, 1995; Pica et al., 1989; Sato, 1990) through a

qualitative study based on a social constructionist theoretical framework. This study

would give the participants a greater role in terms of their contribution to the study by

including them throughout the data collection and data analysis processes, allowing for a

deeper investigation of peer interaction and their meaning making process.

This study can enhance our knowledge in the social constructionist, student-

centered language learning environment. Moreover, this study can also enhance our

knowledge in the area of interactive language application providing language learners the






11


chance to practice all language skills (especially the influence of talking about reading

and writing) besides practicing academic and basic language skills. Also, by including

participants in the data analysis section, this study can enhance our insight of language

learning and meaning-making via social-constructionist qualitative research.














CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE

This review of literature starts with the teaching and learning theory of social

constructionism and its role in second language learning. As the focus of this research is

how English language learners coming from different cultural backgrounds make

meaning of text (reading texts and their summaries), understanding the role of social

constructionism in language learning can provide insights to the role of interaction,

constructing meaning, and social collaboration. Within social constructionist theoretical

framework, the Interactive Language Learning hypothesis serves as a mid-level theory in

the present study. Within Interactive Language Learning specific roles of talk on reading

comprehension and writing are examined further.

Social constructionism

Interactive Language Learning Through

Talking


Impact on Reading Comprehension <= Impact on Writing

Figure 2-1. Theoretical framework of this present study.

Social Constructionism and Language Learning

As a theoretical framework of this present study, social constructionism based on

the constructionist epistemology is used for socially impacted construction, which refers

to "the collective generation [and transmission] of meaning" (Crotty, 1998). That is,

meaning is constructed by human beings when they engage with the world that they are









interpreting; it is not discovered (Crotty, 1998). For that reason, reality is the product of

social construction processes under the influence of cultural, historical, political, and

economic conditions (Berger and Luckmann, 1967; Dean & Rhode 1998; Geertz, 1973;

Gergen, 1985, 1991). As knowledge is socially constructed, not only knowledge can vary

historically over time and differ across cultural groups that hold diverse beliefs about

human development and nature, but also the social construction of knowledge varies.

Therefore, we cannot expect our interpretation to be a case of merely mirroring "what is

there." When we describe something, we are, in the normal course of events, reporting

how something is seen and reacted to, and thereby meaningfully constructed, within a

given community or set of communities. According to the social constructionist view,

reality is always filtered through human language -we cannot gain direct access to it

(Berger & Luckmann, 1967; Gergen, 1994). "Rather than reflecting the world, language

generates it" (Witkin, 1999 p. 5), coordinates and regulates social life (Gergen, 1994). In

other words, language includes all social, economic, cultural knowledge within itself

(Berger & Luckmann, 1967; Gergen, 1985, 1994). Therefore, learning a language is also

learning a culture and a society.

Sometimes referring to social constructionism, in Second/foreign Language

Learning different terms are used, such as social constructivism and socio-constructivism.

However, in some cases these terms might be referring to social constructionism which

focuses on individual learners' meaning making process, their motivational and cognitive

experiences (Flood et al., 2003; Salomon, 1993) rather than constructing meaning as a

social group. Therefore, this type of social constructionism is closer to constructivism

rather than social paradigm and it serves as a transition from constructivism to social









constructionism which emerged in the late 80s by Bahtin (1981, 1990), Bruner (1990),

Cole and Engestrom (1993), Wells (1999), and Wertsch (1991).They were trying to

understand "how humans function as individuals, as the separate, unique nexus for forces

working on personality tendencies, and motivations" (Flood et al., 2003 p 34). Even

though this type of social constructionism differs from the constructivist perspective

which focuses more on information processing (behaviorist notions on this dimension),

the socioconstructivist perspective shares similarity with constructivism in terms of how

the learner constructs interpretations of ongoing events, through making sense of

language and life within the cultural/social/historical milieu into which every person is

born and lives (Flood et al., 2003).

Also, the term "socio-cultural" might be used interchangeably with social

constructionism, but in some cases as Mercer (1996) states it might refer to society level

(home, school, working class cultures) with more critical and political perspectives (i.e.,

Au, 1997; Barton, 1994; Bloch, 1993; Street,1984). In this present study, socio-cultural

term is used interchangeably with social constructionism referring to the cultural meaning

of a situation in which learning is taking place and to the social practices with power

differentials that influence teachers and learners in learning situations (Flood et al.,

2003). Nieto (1999) summarizes the socio cultural perspective on learning and education

referring to social constructionism:

learning develops primarily from social relationships and the actions of individuals
that take place within particular sociopolitical contexts. That is to say, learning
emerges from the social, cultural, and political spaces in which it takes place, and
through the interactions and relationships that occur among learners and teachers.
(p.2)

Consequently, in this study grounded by social constructionism I am referring to

constructing meaning through interaction and with a social focus as suggested by Gergen









(1994) and Gee (1996, 2002). Applying this framework into language learning indicates

that knowledge is produced by a society of members in which individual learners bring

their own cultural background knowledge contributing to constructions of new meanings.

Learning occurs while people are participating in the sociocultural activities of their

learning community, transforming (i.e., constructing) their understanding and

responsibilities as they participate (Lave &Wenger, 1991; Oxford, 1997; Rogoff & Lave,

1984). In a community of learners, both children and adults are active in structuring the

inquiry conversationally, although usually in asymmetric roles (Oxford, 1997). In social

constructionism, the emphasis is on the learning process, rather than just the completion

of projects, in activity-based situations with meaningful purposes in which students

becomes acculturated, enculturated, or reacculturated (i.e., apprenticed into a particular

learning culture or environment (Bruffee, 1993) through classroom activities and through

the modeling and coaching of the teacher and many others (Oxford, 1997). Rather than

just a teacher/learner dyad, many actors and many different kinds of relationships exist in

which many people can provide the scaffolding that the students needs (Oxford, 1997).

Language Learning Through Interaction

Within social constructionist framework of language learning, Interactional

Language Learning will serve as a mid-level theory in this present study. Interactional

language learning combines both Input (Krashen, 1982) and Output (Swain, 1985)

hypothesis. According to Input hypothesis (Krahen, 1982), second language acquisition

does not occur when learners are memorizing vocabulary or completing grammar

exercises, but occurs when they receive comprehensible input. One of the components

that shape the input hypothesis is the "affective filter", which refers to a language

acquisition environment in which learners' anxiety level is low and there is no









defensiveness. According to Krashen (1982), producing output might cause this filter to

get increased with the result of no or less language learning. When students feel

comfortable, they will produce output. However, some researchers argued that

comprehensible input is not sufficient for the L2 learners to attain a high level of L2

proficiency (Hammerly, 1987; Harley, 1993; Harley & Swain, 1978; Izumi et al., 1999).

Findings from these studies have shown that although comprehensible input helps L2

learners to gain high level listening comprehension skills and communicative fluency,

these students have weaknesses in grammatical accuracy (Izumi et al., 1999). One of the

reasons for that weakness is that learners had a little chance to practice using the target

language in classroom (Swain, 1985) either because of the limited class time or because of

the teacher-talk domination (Allen et al., 1990; Swain, 1985, Izumi et al., 1999).

Focusing on these drawbacks of the input theory, Swain (1985,1993) developed 'output

hypothesis' as an alternative to Krashen's "Input theory" (Kasagna, 1996). Output

hypothesis suggests that in addition to receiving comprehensible input, learners must

produce comprehensible output; in other words, explicit attention must be paid to the

productive language skills for speaking and writing. During this process, in order to

develop communicative competence, learners need to be "pushed toward the delivery of

message that is... conveyed precisely, coherently, and appropriately" (Swain, 1985,p.

249). Pica, Holliday, Lewis, and Morganthaler (1989) supported Swain's idea of

emphasizing the importance of comprehensible output in L2 learning as a function of

linguistic demands (Kasagna,1996).

Overcoming the limitations of both Input and Output hypothesis (only being

exposed to comprehensible input; being pushed to produce output without a meaningful









context), Interactionist theory emphasizes the dynamic nature of the interplay between

learners, their peers and their teachers and others with whom they interact (Brown, 2000).

The interpersonal context in which a learner operates has great significance; therefore,

the interaction among the learners is the focus of observation and explanation (Brown,

2000).

The relationship between social interaction and L2 acquisition has been the focus

because the first systematic studies on these questions were undertaken in the late 1970s

and early 1980s (see e.g., Faerch & Kasper, 1983; Hatch, 1978; Long, 1983), and to date,

the role of social interaction in L2 acquisition has received very different interpretations

in research that can be considered into three categories: a weak, a strong (Mondada &

Doehler, 2004), and an intermediate. The weak version of the interactionist approach

acknowledges that interaction is beneficial (or even necessary; e.g., Gass & Varonis,

1985) for learning by providing opportunities for learners to be exposed to

comprehensible, negotiated, or modified input (e.g., Long, 1983, 1996). This version

basically assumes that social interaction plays an auxiliary role, providing momentary

frames within which learning processes are supposed to take place.

Contrary to this position, the strong version of the interactionist approach considers

interaction as a fundamentally constitutive dimension of learners' everyday lives

(Mondada & Doehler, 2004). That is, interaction is the most basic site of experience, and

it functions as the most basic site of organized activity where learning can take place.

According to this view, social interaction provides an interactional frame in which

developmental processes can take place and as a social practice, it involves the learner as

a co-constructor of joint activities, where linguistic and other competencies are put to









work within a constant process of adjustment vis-a-vis other social agents and in the

emerging context (Mondada & Doehler, 2004). This position is typically adopted by

conversationalist (Bange, 1992; Gajo& Mondada, 2000; Krafft & Dausendschon-Gay,

1994; Pekarek, 1999) or sociocultural (Hall, 1993; Lantolf, 2000; Lantolf & Appel, 1994;

Lantolf & Pavlenko, 1995) approach to L2 acquisition.

The intermediate version refers to the combination of Interactional hypothesis with

the Output hypothesis in which output is produced in a meaningful process through

interaction: peer-peer dialogue (Swain et al., 2002). This addition includes sociocultural

perspective to the output hypothesis based on Vygotksy's (1978) Zone of Proximal

Development (ZPD), and it highlights collaborative learning through the dialogue form in

writing, speaking, listening and reading activities. Vygotsky's (1978) sociocultural theory

posits that activities which are external to the learner but in which he or she participates

(interpsychological) are transformed into mental ones (intrapsychological).

"Psychological processes emerge first in collective behavior, in co-operation with other

people, and only subsequently become internalized as the individual's own

'possessions"' (Stetsenko & Arievitch, 1997, p. 161). The process of internalization

occurs via language either interpsychologically through dialogic interaction (Donato &

Lantolf, 1990; Lantolf, 2000), or intrapschologically through private speech (Lantolf,

2001). The output hypothesis affected by Interactional Language Learning hypothesis

focuses mostly on the dialogic (interpersonal) interaction (Swain, 2000), and Swain

(1997) called it as "collaborative dialogue". In collaborative dialogue, learners work

together to solve linguistic problems and develop cultural proficiency. During this

collaborative process, language serves not only as a cognitive tool in a sense that it









enables to process and manage meaning making, but also as a social tool in a sense that it

enables communication with other learners. As an important impact of this collaborative

dialogue, the pattern on the output communication has changed: While at the beginning

the output has a linear pattern, one of the learners produces output the other one gives

feedback, this collaborative dialogue interaction has enabled the circular output

movement: "the messages are transmitted as output from one source and received as

input elsewhere" (Swain & Lapkin, 1998, p:320; Wells, 2000). In other words, within a

circular movement an utterance can be considered both as a process and a product (Swain

and Lapkin, 1998; Wells, 2000): as "saying" and as "what was said." "What they said"

becomes an object on which the speaker or other participants can work further and later it

turns into resource (input) for other participants.

Furthermore, affecting the Output hypothesis, Interactional language learning

enables delivering the negative feedback effectively through dialogue and interaction.

Presenting feedback in negotiation provides a context in which "error correction is

considered as a social activity involving joint participation and meaningful transactions

between the learner and the teacher" (Nassaji &Swain, 2000 p.35). Aljaafreh & Lantolf

(1994) examined corrective feedback in dialogic process and its relationship to the

learners' interlanguage. Their study found that the usefulness of corrective feedback

mostly depends on the nature of the transaction and mediation provided by the expert in

this procedure. The analysis of the dialogic interactions between the learner and the

expert revealed that every type of error treatment was effective in so far as it was

negotiated between the learner and the teacher and was provided at the right point or

within the Zone of Proximal Development. Moreover, in a more detailed study, Nassaji &









Swain (2000) compared the effectiveness of getting collaborative feedback and random

feedback in this dialogic process. The results indicate that the collaborative help is more

effective than the random one (Nassaji &Swain, 2000). While in previous studies (i.e.,

Carroll & Swain, 1993; Schmidt & Fonda, 1986) presented the benefit of negative

feedback over the positive feedback, recently the effectiveness of the positive feedback is

also underlined (i.e., Spada & Lightbown, 1993). Even though which one is more

efficient is still in debate (Robb et al., 1986), the certain thing is how one will deliver the

negative feedback has changed: through dialogue and interaction.

Who can be the participant of interaction in the Interactional Language Learning

hypothesis is also changing. That is, the common idea that all interactions can occur with

the presence of a more knowledgeable person who will help the learner to move from

being able to do something only with the help of that expert to being able to do it

independently (ZPD) (Vygotksy, 1987) has changed. While the expert/novice pair has

typically been considered as an adult (e.g., parent, teacher) (Wertsch, 1985), in recent

years, the idea that peer-peer interaction may also foster learning has been advanced

(Tudge, 1990; Wells, 1999). This idea has extended within sociocultural SLA by

suggesting that in peer to peer interaction, peers can be concurrently experts and novices

(Brooks & Swain, 2001; Kowal & Swain, 1997). Furthermore, peers working within the

ZPD of each other can support learning through, for example, questioning, proposing

possible solutions, disagreeing, repeating, and managing activities and behaviors (social

and cognitive) (DiCamilla &Anton, 1997; Donato, 1994; Ohta, 2001; Swain & Lapkin,

1998; Tocalli-Beller, 2001). Consequently, how acquisition occurs in interaction, not as a









result of interaction (Swain and Lapkin, 1998:321; Swain, 2000) has become the new

focus of the output hypothesis affected by the interactional hypothesis.

Nonnative Speaker-Nonnative Speaker(s) Talk

Within Interactional hypothesis, various combinations of interactions can occur

facilitating language learning, such as native-nonnative speaker (N-NNS), Nonnative-

nonnative speaker (NNS-NNS), teacher-student, adult-child, peer-interaction, through

writing and oral. The focus of this present study is NNS-NNS, as a face-to-face, oral,

peer interaction in a small group.

It is quite common for people to contrast 'talking' with 'doing'-'he's all talk, he

never gets things done'. But 'talking' can be 'doing', of course, a form of social action

(Mercer, 1996). People use spoken language to account for themselves, to pursue their

interests and try and make other people do what they want. Such ideas have been

explored in an interesting line of pragmatics research, from philosophers (e.g. Austin,

1962) through the ethnomethodologists (e.g. Schegloff et al., 1977) into conversation

analysts (e.g. Drew & Heritage, 1992). But talk is not just a form of social action, it is

also a social mode of thinking by which humans can jointly construct knowledge and

understanding (Mercer, 1995). Human beings use talk to give ideas a form of reality, to

dispute them, to share them and develop them together; they use language to construct

cultures. People collectively create and establish language practices for doing so. It is this

capability for organizing ways of thinking together (Mercer, 1996).

Educational theorists and researchers often present the discussion as something

that should be strived for because it allows for greater student expression and

involvement and results in increased learning (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). This is usually

part of a Vygotskian framework that views social interaction as effectively driving









cognitive development (Vygotsky, 1978). Within this framework, discussion is

essentially dialogic; it is not completely controlled by a single participant; rather it occurs

as natural conversation in which individuals engage in a free and open exchange of ideas.

According to Lindfors (1990), effective discussions are an "ongoing process of inviting

and sustaining children's talk and response... as they carry out their deepest human

urgings; to connect with others, to understand their world, and to reveal themselves

within it" (p.38). The second reason for growing interest in discussions is that discussion

enables the meaningful integration of the language arts (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996).

Discussion brings together listening, speaking, and thinking skills as participants engage

in exchanging ideas, responding and reacting to text as well as to the ideas of others.

Thirdly, and most importantly, social constructionist theory of learning views students as

active learners who engage in the construction of knowledge. These theories suggest that

the primary goal of instruction is to help students construct personal meanings in

response to new experiences rather than to transmission of knowledge (Poplin, 1988).

Therefore, there is the clear link between discussion and the social construction of

knowledge; in other words, meaning making is learned through the social interaction of

students, especially when they discuss and interpret text in small groups (Gambrell

&Almasi, 1996). Ways of meaning making are made public as students observe and

participate in discussions about text which in turn makes students become part of the

"active conversation that is reading, the conversation between the reader and text,

between text and community and among other readers" (Straw and Bogdan (1993), p.4)

(p.27). Thus, talking plays an important role in language learning as commonly a social,

rather than an individual, activity; intellectual development is essentially a culturally-









situated, guided process; and becoming educated is largely a matter of learning certain

'ways with words' in a community of Discourse (Mercer, 1996).

Through a study on the amount of interaction opportunities available to ESL

learners in three ESL classrooms, Berducci (1993) expected to find that more than half of

the classroom interaction time "would be spent using the participation structures in which

negotiated interaction could take place" (p. 13). The findings revealed 86% of the time in

one class and 80% of the time in another was spent in participation structures in which

negotiated interaction could occur. A conversation-only class spent only 3% of the time

in activities in which negotiated interaction could occur. Even though there was

interaction in each class, hardly any of it consisted of meaning being negotiated and only

an insignificant amount of negotiated interaction occurred between the students

themselves. Moreover, the results indicated that it was primarily the teachers who

negotiated with the students (Glew, 1998).

Although the teachers observed in Berducci's (1993) study acknowledged the

need to replace more traditional teaching methods with a curriculum based on a practical

communicative approach, which capitalized on interaction activity to promote language

learning, this was rarely translated into the class lessons (Glew, 1998). It is interesting to

ask if negotiated interaction is crucial for second language acquisition then why there was

so little time spent giving students the opportunity to engage in negotiation with the

teacher and other students. Also, when negotiated interaction occurred, who received the

opportunities to engage in it; what types of interaction that occur in their classrooms; and

how students contribute to each others' learning. Answering these questions reflect on









teaching practice and curriculum implementation, which have the potential to facilitate

second language development in the classroom context (Foster, 1998).

How pairs and small groups are grouped is important in the collaborative-

dialogue. For instance, grouping nonnative-nonnative (NNS-NNS) and nonnative-native

speaker (NNS-NS) might impact output and interaction. On one hand, through interacting

with a native speaker, language learner learns language (Long, 1985, 1996; Pregoy &

Boyle, 2001; Brown,2000; Lightbown & Spada, 2001). On the other hand, it has been

demonstrated that more negotiation of meaning may occur when two NNS are interacting

than when a NS and NNS are interacting (Varonis & Gass, 1985).

Schwartz (1980) investigated the six nonnative- nonnative college level speakers'

negotiation of meaning through repairs in a conversation through discourse analysis. The

participants were two Iranian male and four female who were Japanese, Mexican,

Russian and Taiwanese. Each participant was paired with a friend coming from different

language backgrounds so that English was the common language during the interaction.

The participants' language proficiency levels were elementary, intermediate and

advanced. The participants were left alone for fifteen minutes with each other and the

data was both audio and video taped. The findings indicate that repair is a process of

negotiation, involving speakers conferring with each other to achieve understanding. The

repairs included self-initiated repair resulting in self- and other-repair, and other-initiated

repair followed by self- and other-repair. The negotiations in the conversations between

second language learners of English included both verbal and extralinguistic processes.

Especially during other-repair, in their conversations with each other, the teaching nature

of repair work was evidently suggesting that second language learners can learn more









from one another. Moreover, repair work is a necessary part of conversation, and can

even serve as a "vehicle of language socialization" (Schegloff, Jefforson and Sacks,

1977, p.33). Even the students in the most elementary level of language proficiency were

able to deal with trouble sources and problems in understanding in their conversations by

negotiating with each other to come to an agreement of meaning. Further research instead

of pair interaction can focus on small groups with culturally more diverse participants.

Talking related to reading

Reading and writing are higher-order mental processes (Kong & Pearson, 2003)

and acquired through interaction with more knowledgeable others in the enactment of

cultural practices (Brock & Gavelek, 1998; Gee, 1992; Vygotsky, 1978). Therefore,

students are knowledgeable beings with their own theories of world (Anderson &

Pearson, 1984; Smith, 1975), not empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge

(Kong & Pearson, 2003). As learners construct meaning through collaborating with

others, the meaning has both a cultural and social face (Kong & Pearson, 2003). The

cultural face refers to the dispositions and experiences learners bring to the reading

process and the social face refers to "give-and-take" of classroom talk about text (Kong

& Pearson, 2003 p.90). Hence, due to the dialogic and interactive nature of learning and

meaning making, the participation is both the goal and the means of learning (Dewey,

1916; Lave & Weigner, 1991; Rogoff et al., 1996).

As literacy is inseparable from the cultural and social context in which it occurs,

sociocultural and sociolinguistic orientations are also pertinent (Bloome & Bailey, 1992;

Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Rogoff, 1990). In other words, as "interpretive

communities" of students and teachers interact, alternate interpretations and divergent

views may be forwarded that have also an impact on a person's interpretation (Fish,









1980). Thus, the interactions, among group members involve a reciprocity in which the

actions and reactions of individuals are influenced by one another as they interpret the

text (Gall & Gall, 1976). These interactions of individuals within a social environment

are referred to as "events". Meaning is then viewed as being located within the event

rather than in an individual's mind (Gee, 1992; Heap, 1992). Thus, literacy is viewed as

primarily social endeavor (Bloome, 1985; Bloome &Green, 1992), and discussion is

viewed as primarily component of the literacy process.

More specifically, from a literary standpoint, meaning is derived from the

transaction that occurs between the reader, the text, and the context of the literary act

(Bleich, 1978; Iser, 1980; Rosenblatt, 1938/1976, 1978). Thus, the interpretation of the

reader are not static but continually shaped by transaction between the reader's

experiences and the new information acquired from the text. Under such circumstances

the reader's interpretation constantly evolves and the interpretation that each person

brings to a discussion may ultimately be transformed and shaped by the thoughts and

ideas of other group members. Student-to-student conversations help to identify and

clarify interpretations of informational texts and that discussions serve to enrich and

refine our understanding. Findings of studies (Almasi and Gambrell, 1994; Gambrell

&Almasi, 1996; McMahon, 1992) support a social constructivist theory of reading that

posits that literacy is a social act (Beach, 1994). As readers engage in sharing responses

to informational texts in a social context, they construct new meaning as a result of

interaction with others in the classroom community. The social constructivist view of

reading is supported by a number of educational theorists who contend that there are

important linkages between social interaction and improved reading comprehension









(Gavelek, 1986; Short &Pierce, 1990). Furthermore, the social constructivist perspective

is consistent with Vygotksy's (1962, 1978) work which presents language as both a

communicative tool and a means by which humans develop intellectually. While a social

constructivist theory is readily acknowledged with regard to narrative text, it is equally

important to informational texts. Opportunities to discuss informational texts within a

social context are one way that students can begin to develop higher order language

expression and knowledge of content material besides multi-layered interpretations

(Vygotsky, 1978; Barnes, Britton & Torbe, 1990; Edwards &Westgate, 1994; Marshall,

Smagorinsky & Smith, 1994).

As students participate in discussions of text, there are many opportunities for

cognitive, social, emotional and affective growth (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). When

classroom cultures allow opportunities for authentic discussions, students' perceptions of

the literary process, as well as their literary competence, are affected in ways that reflect

that culture. (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). In the past, typical classroom discussions relied

heavily on the public communications or recitation models of interaction, with the

teacher as the transmitter of information. Teachers talked and asked questions and

students listened and answered teacher-posed questions (White,1990). This type of

teacher-centered instruction provides students with few opportunities to enter into the

dialogue of learning. The teacher controls the timing, the structure, and the content of

classroom talk, allowing students limited opportunities to develop what Rubin (1990) has

referred to as a "response-ability" (p.28). If students are to develop critical and creative

thinking skills, they must have opportunities to respond to text. The ability to respond to

text, or response-ability, is socially mediated and is learned through a process of









socialization in the literacy community. Thus, response-ability is nurtured when students

have opportunities to negotiate meaning with text and with other members of the

interpretive community. By its very nature, response-ability requires social interactions

centered around text. In many ways, response-ability reflects Vygotskian (1978)

perspective that the ways in which we think are learned through our social interactions.

According to Straw and Bogdan (1993), this perspective "argues for socially based

classrooms, classrooms that lead students to the negotiations that are the heart of meaning

making in the act of reading" (p.4). The reanalysis of the National Assessment of

Educational Progress database found that social interaction was positively associated with

reading activity (Guthrie, Schafer, Wang, & Afflerbach, 1995). In particular, students of

all ages who talked with their friends and parents about what they read were more active

readers than students who engaged in less discourse about their literate behaviors. This

information is consistent with the findings of Morrow and Weinstein (1986) who reported

that scope of reading increased when students and teachers participated in discussions

and debate about the ideas present in the text they read. These findings suggest that

students who talk about what they read are more likely to engage in reading. When

students have the opportunity to discuss what they read they are also more likely to

respond aesthetically by sharing their thoughts and emotions about the text they read it

(Many &Wiseman, 1992).

Besides cognitive, social and emotional growth, talking helps to increase reading

comprehension, vocabulary development and autonomy of learners. Discussing a reading

text with a peer increases reading comprehension (Rodriguez- Garcia, 2001). While

reading a print newspaper (Times), Rodriguez-Garcia (2001) compared the three









conditions of meaning making, unmodified reading text with no peer interaction

(authentic news article without any peer), modified reading text with no peer interaction

elaborativee version of native like baseline news article), and unmodified reading text

with peer interaction (Rodriguez- Garcia, 2001), indicate that comprehension was highest

among the peer interaction. Their performance was reported as significantly different

from those who read the same text but without interaction. Peer interaction group is not

significantly different from those who read modified version of the reading text. The

findings of this study provide a strong evidence that for students of at least intermediate

levels of language proficiency interacting with their peers over the content of an

unmodified (authentic) text effectively aids when they have a specific task to perform.

In another study on reading comprehension Yano, Long, and Ross (1994) explored

the relationship between L2 reading and negotiation studies addressing the effect on

comprehension of modifying a text along the lines of interactional adjustments native

speakers make in face-to-face conversation. They found that such modifications results in

elaboration of texts because of "maintaining much of the original... complexity in both

lexis and syntax, but compensating by clarifying message content and structure... and by

adding redundancy" (p.193). This elaborative modification was found to be as effective

as simplification for making texts understandable, in spite of the greater complexity of

the modified text. Yano et al., argue, like Leow (1993), that simplification may actually

work against language acquisition while "elaboration appears to serve the twin functions

of most foreign land second language reading lessons: (a) improving comprehension and

(b) providing learners with the rich linguistic forms they need for further language

learning" (p.214)









Besides helping students to apply comprehension strategies and co-construct

knowledge while reading, peer-peer dialogue also helps vocabulary gain. After reviewing

a number of research studies, Ruddell (1994) concluded: "The evidence we have so far

suggests that positive effects results from social interaction during word learning"

(p.436). Klingner and Vaughn (2000) investigated how a group of Spanish-English

bilingual elementary school students collaborated to build their own reading

comprehension and that of their limited English Proficient (LEP) peers. Through a

classroom technique known as collaborative strategic reading (CSR) 37 participants in

the study were taught four readings strategies to aid their reading comprehension of a

context-based text. The text was in English but students discussed the content of the text

in both English and Spanish. Qualitative analysis of the students' discourse showed that

through interacting in their CSR groups, the fifth grade students assisted one another in

vocabulary comprehension, finding the main idea and asking and answering questions

about their text. Klingner and Vaughn reported that in each of the six cooperative

learning groups, the students taught concepts and vocabulary to their peers. In some cases

bilingual students provided translations for the LEP students. The authors concluded that

in their peer groups, the students provided scaffolding for each other and that even the

higher achieving students benefited from the group interaction. According to Klingner

and Vaughn (2000), for scaffolding to occur, the important factor is not expertise but

rather whether students are instructed in how to provide assistance to their peers, as they

had been in this study. Pre- and Post- test measures of vocabulary indicated that the

students made gains in their language learning. While the LEP students appeared to

demonstrate little improvement as measured in the tests, they were able to provide closer









approximations to the correct answers than they had in the protests. However, due to the

scoring criteria used, these gains were not qualified.

Thirdly, discussion provides more autonomy to language learners. Within

classroom discussion, the responsibility for learning is transferred from teacher to

students. In such an environment students come to believe that they can control their own

learning as they learn how to interact with one another (Alvermann, O'Brien, &Dillon,

1990; O'Flahavan, 1989; Slavin, 1990). Thus, students involved in discussions not only

learn how to interact socially and develop communicative competence, but they learn to

take responsibility for their own learning. When students share their thoughts with others

their thoughts become an object that can be reflected upon. By sharing, these thoughts are

made available to all group members for inspection and provide an opportunity to expand

a student's limited perceptions. Thus, student interaction in discussions may be an

important factor in promoting the ability to think critically and to consider multiple

perspectives (Prawat, 1989) and in developing the ability to confirm, extend, and modify

their individual interpretations of text (Eeds & Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992). Students also

benefit from discussions because they often make discoveries about themselves as

individuals and as learners (Gambrell &Almasi, 1996). Their responses reflect their

beliefs and attitudes as well as their learning strategies. When students are given

autonomy to explore their own topics for discussions of literature, the quality of their

discourse is enhanced. Students who participate in discussions of text not only engage in

more dialogue about text, but also in quality of their discourse is more complex than the

dialogue of students who participate in more traditional teacher-led recitations (Almasi,

1995; Almasi & Gambrell, 1994; Eeds &Wells, 1989; Leal, 1992; Sweigart, 1991).









Additionally, when teachers provided greater opportunities for students to share their

opinions about a text, the types of responses that students share broaden (Martinez,

Roser, Hoffman, & Battle, 1992) and reflect their personal reactions to the text (McGee,

1992).

ESL reading instruction through memorization has tend to focus on linguistic forms

such as word recognition, pattern drills and oral reading instead of constructing meaning

through complex thinking and critical response (Au & Raphael, 2000; Fitzgerald, 1995;

Valdes, 1998). Through creating time and opportunity for diverse learners to construct

textual meaning both individually and collaboratively through reading, writing and

discussing in which students can actively produce language and develop more complex

linguistic tools for communicating with each other are important for ESL learners'

language development (Anderson & Roit, 1996; Garcia, 1993; Gersten, 1996; Kong &

Pearson, 2003). Reading activities could provide data both on the processes involved and

on the language development that results (Grallet, 1981; Nuttall, 1982; Silberstein, 1994)

where such suggestions involve group work, as they often do, the study of the interaction

that takes place between the group members in these encounters is likely to be a fruitful

field for research in a joint of second language acquisition and L2 reading text (Devitt,

1997). Furthermore, much work has been done on the nature of face-to-face interactions

between native and nonnative speakers (Devitt, 1997) and how children with limited

literacy and linguistic ability begin to read and learn the L2 at the same time, through a

process of writing their own stories (Zamel, 1992; Edelsky, 1982; Hudelson, 1984).

Therefore, further research can focus on the nature of interactions occurring as nonnative

adult readers create meaning from text and revising their writing (their summary of a









text) to enhance reading comprehension further in a small group of other nonnative adult

speakers.

Currently, there is a resurgence of interest in small group discussions, particularly

as it relates to reading comprehension and learning from text (Barton, 1995; Commeyras,

1994; Villaume &Hopkins, 1995; Villaume, Worden, Williams, Hopkins,

&Rosenblatt, 1994; Wiencek &O'Flahavan, 1994). When students engage in small group

discussions they have more opportunities to speak, interact, interpret, clarify, and

exchange points of view than are afforded in other talk structures (Gambrell &Almasi,

1996). In particular the research on collaborative learning has encouraged teachers to

provide more opportunities for students to work and interact in small groups (Slavin,

1989; 1990).

Talking related to writing

Several studies underline the importance of the link between talk and writing

(Zoellner, 1969; Kennedy, 1983; Hillocks, 1986). Britton (1975) states "the relationship

of talk to writing is central to the writing process" (p.30). Therefore, writing, reading and

classroom talk are vehicles of active inquiry rather than recitation and review: "talking

and writing to learn" (Britton, 1969;Britton, Burgess, Martin, McLeod, & Rosen, 1975;

Nystrand & Gamoran, 1991). Writing of various kinds such as paraphrasing, outlining

and summarizing, has been found to produce better comprehension and retention (Glover,

Plake, Roberst, Zimmer & Palmere, 1981; Bretzing, Kulhavey, 1979; Kulhavy, Dyer &

Silver, 1975; Taylor & Berkowitz, 1980; Taylor & Beach, 1984). Here, the literature

review includes the role of talking before writing and after writing as revision focusing

on peer feedback in terms of the nature and impact of peer mediation, value of peer-

response groups, comparing individual work to collaborative work and peer feedback to









teacher feedback, training to give feedback, and the impact of all these interactions on

students' language learning.

Talking in small groups before writing provides clarification of complex topics.

Sweigart (1991) study comparing three treatments of lecture, class discussion and

student-led in small groups of fifty eight college preparatory twelfth grade students about

the effectiveness of expository talk and writing found that the small group discussion was

significantly more effective in improving the students' knowledge as they prepared to

write. According to Sweigart (1991) the talk in student groups provided help to

understanding of complex topics and help to writing about these ideas in the environment

in which students see each other as collaborators "jointly constructing meaning rather

than as competitors whose primary goal is gaining the teacher's approval" (p.493).

On collaborative peer revision of writing as apart of a series of studies with adult

learners of Spanish as a L2 (de Guerrero & Villamil, 1994, 2000; Villamil & de Guerrero,

1996, 1998), Villamil & de Guerrero (1998) assessed the nature and impact of peer

mediation on writers' final version of two types of rhetorical modes of writing: narration

and persuasion. Analysis of the audio taped pair interactions showed that the majority of

the revisions (74%) worked on during peer-revision sessions were incorporated into the

final drafts of the writer. When revising the narrative mode, the students paid almost

equal attention to grammar and content (31% and 27 & of the total revisions,

respectively), when was revision the persuasive mode, the greatest percentage of

revisions (38%) were focused on grammar. Moreover, assistance through dialogue

prompted further revisions and self-revisions after the sessions, indicating that peer

learning was conductive to self-regulated behavior.









Additionally, De Guerrero and Villamil (2000) adopted a microgenetic approach

to analyze 16 episodes of interaction between a "reader" and a "writer" of their previous

data set on peer revision. The students who was "the reader" provided other-regulation

by instructing or giving mini-lessons, which is a type of scaffolding mechanism by which

students exteriorize their expertise and offer each other knowledge about language. The

writer incorporated that majority of the changes discussed with his partner and, in some

cases, further revised on his own. The reader also made progress in aspects of L2 writing

and revising as well as in being able to provide peer assistance. As the researchers noted,

the opportunity to talk and discuss language and writing issues with each other "allowed

both reader and writer to consolidate and reorganize knowledge of the second language in

structural and rhetorical aspects and to make this knowledge explicit for each other's

benefit" (2000, p. 65).

Within peer revisions the value of peer-response has also been investigated. For

example, Tang and Tithecott's (1999) study in a university college level ESL writing

indicates that students tended to be positive about peer feedback but had some concerns

(i.e.,, they did not feel comfortable or know how to criticize somebody else's work).

However, many students improved while participating in the sessions because they were

engaged in socio-cognitive activities that enabled them to become aware of deficiencies

in their texts and, in turn, to make revisions. Both less and more proficient students

benefited from the peer response sessions and increased their language awareness and

self-confidence.

Concerning the collaborative performance of ESL learners with intermediate and

advanced proficiency level, Storch (1999, 2000, 2001a, 2001b) compared individual









work to collaborative work and studied the nature of peer assistance and its impact on

students' language learning. Storch (1999) found that collaboration and the metatalk

generated a positive effect on overall grammatical accuracy when students completed a

series of grammar-focused exercises (a cloze- exercise, a text reconstruction, and a short

composition). There were two isomorphic versions to these exercises (i.e., they featured

in the same theme, the same genre and were the same length and had approximately the

same number of similar grammatical items to attend to). The first version was completed

individually and the other version was done in pairs (or small groups). In the cloze

exercise, accuracy improved in verb tense/aspect choice (up from 58 % to 78%) and

particularly in morphology (up from 35 % to 84%). In the text reconstruction exercise, a

greater proportion items were detected and corrected amended when working

collaboratively than when working individually (72 % vs. 63%) and fewer were left

undetected (10% vs. 17%). With regard to the composition, those written in collaboration

with peers demonstrated a lower average number of errors than compositions written

individually (7.75% vs. 13.6) and a greater proportion of error-free clauses (61 % vs. 47

%). Storch indicated that pairs spent more time on task as they discussed the changes,

which clearly resulted in more accurate performance.

Also, Storch (2000, 2001a, 200 1b) noted that the nature of peer assistance is an

important factor to consider in terms of the impact that collaborative work can have on

learning. Detailed analyses distinguished two dimensions of dyadic interactions: equality

(i.e., authority over the task) and mutuality (i.e., level of engagement with each other's

contribution). From these, Storch (2000, 200b) derived four distinct patterns. In the

collaborative pattern, both students contribute to the task, assisting each other (i.e., the









expert role is fluid) and reaching co-constructed solutions acceptable to both of them. The

dominant/ dominant pattern is one in which, though both students contribute to the task

and thus the expert role is also fluid, assistance is often rejected as it is an attempt to

control and dominate both students. In the case of the dominant/ passive pair there is one

dominant student who appropriates the task and who directs his/her partner and allows

little or no contribution. The fourth pattern, expert/novice, describes the interaction that

takes place when assistance is provided predominantly by one of the participants (expert),

which is generally accepted by the novice. Like the dominant/passive pattern, one

participant seems to be more in control of the task but unlike the dominant/passive

scenario, the expert participant acknowledges the novice and encourages participation.

Analysis which linked interactions to evidence of language development in the students'

writing showed that in collaboration and expert/novice dyads there were more instances

suggesting evidence of transfer of knowledge (22 and 15 respectively) than in

dominant/dominant or dominant/passive pairs (six in each). Furthermore, these latter

pairs produced a larger number of instances showing either no transfer or lost

opportunities (due lack to involvement or challenge) than the former pairs (Storch,

2000). Adopting a collaborative orientation resulted in evidence of co-construction, more

LREs, extension of knowledge, provision of scaffolding assistance, and language

development (grammatical accuracy and new lexical knowledge).

Similarly, DiCamilla and Anton's (1997) analyses of the discourse of five dyads

of Spanish L2 learners collaborating on a writing assignment emphasized the importance

of co-constructed scaffolded support and guidance through peer dialogue. In particular,

they pointed out how repetition allowed students to recognize features of the language









and to provide the necessary mediation to solve certain problems (of lexis, spelling, verb

form, etc). Repetition was also used to appropriate the new forms and/or to help peers

with the mastery of provided forms.

With regard to comparison of peer feedback to teacher feedback, Paulus (1999)

analyzed the audiotaped interactions of eleven ESL students who participated in peer

review sessions to give each other feedback on their writing. She compared the students'

revisions to three drafts of a persuasive essay and compared them to modifications

resulting from teacher feedback. The results showed that students used both the peer and

teacher feedback to revise their drafts. Fourteen percent of total revisions were made as a

result of the peer feedback. The majority of the revisions (52 %) were influenced neither

by the peer nor the teacher feedback but by some other unknown source, including the

self. Nevertheless, peer and teacher feedback accounted for more meaning-level revisions

than those resulting from the other sources. Notably, 32% of the changes made to the

second draft of the essay, written immediately after the peer revision session, were a

result of peer feedback. Furthermore, the majority of these changes (63 %) were meaning

changes, which points to the fact, as Paulus noted, that "not only do students take their

classmates' advice seriously, but they also use it to make meaning -level changes to their

writing" (p.281). That is, students find their peers' advice useful. However, the overall

result of Paulus' study indicated that teacher feedback was used more often than peer

feedback (see Nelso & Carson, 1998; Tsui &Ng, 2000) indicating a possible need to help

and train students in how to provide peer feedback.

Concerning giving intensive training to language learners to enable them to

participate fully in the process of collaboration as suggested by Tang and Titecott (1999)









and Paulus (1999), Berg (1999) compared the performance of two classes in a university-

based Intensive English Program that were trained in how to provide peer response (the

treatment group) to two classes in the same program that received no such training. No

difference between the pretreatment writing had been found between two groups. The

training provided students with the language and rationale for using peer response in the

classroom. Trained peer response then resulted in a significantly greater number of

meaning changes in the revised drafts as well as in significantly higher writing scores.

Berg (1999) noted that peer response can teach students about academic writing because,

in discussing each other's essays, they have to apply knowledge about their thesis

statements, the development of ideas and the types of text organization. Furthermore, this

discussion of ideas (content) and language can help students "discover" viable text

alternatives to unclear aspects of their writing (Berg, 1999, p. 232)

Much work has been done about the talk between a teacher and student (one to one)

while revising the writing contributing to the language learning as co-constructed

development in situated discursive practices (Young &Miller, 2004); and peer revisions

(de Guerrero & Villamil, 1994, 2000; Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996, 1998; Paulus,1999;

Storch, 2000, 2001a, 2001b; Tang and Tithecott, 1999). Also as a grade level, several

studies were done about talking and writing in elementary, secondary and middle school

level students (see Dyson, 1993; Gambrell &Almasi, 1996; Farnan &Dahl, 2003).

However, there is limited study focusing on adult, college level English language learners

coming from different cultural backgrounds while reading and revising their writing as a

group. Additionally, the studies presented in this literature review indicate that there is

not enough study examining the role of interaction combining both reading and writing









skills within their discourse through social constructionist theoretical framework in which

participants belonging to different cultural backgrounds make meaning.

Group Dynamics in Nonnative Speaker- Nonnative Speaker(s) Talk

Speakers' language proficiency level

Speakers' language proficiency level influences their participation to the small

group interactions in terms of how and how much they contribute. Ohta (2001)

investigated how social interactions during interactive language learning tasks constitute

learning. Working within a socio-cognitive framework, over an academic year, Ohta

(2001) examined how peers of Japanese students learning working at their ZPD can

assists each other's performance in the classroom and thereby promote language

development through scaffolding. Her findings supporting the previous findings (e.g.,

Kowal &Swain, 1997) indicate that even less proficient peers are able to provide

assistance to more proficient peers and through dialogue, learners can construct

utterances that are beyond what each could produce individually. Ohta's analysis

revealed that the assisted performance comes in the forms of peers' waiting for each other

to finish their utterances, promoting or through co-constructions. Peers also provided

assistance in the form of recasts which are incorporated in later utterances. Not all of the

peer interactions was error-free, but Ohta found, contrary to previous study by Mackey,

McDonough and Kim (1999) that incorporation rates of incorrect utterances were very

low. According to Ohta (2001), the benefits of peer interaction overweight any negative

effects, as through scaffolding, learners build "bridges to proficiency" (2001,p.125). This

scaffolding, together with the internalization of the language learning occurring in social

interaction, supports L2 development.









Another study on learners' language proficiency level and their contribution to peer

and small group interactions was investigated by Swain and Lampkin (1995). According

to their study, the higher ESL proficiency students are twice as likely to rely on applying

a grammatical rule (48 per cent) than on what sounds right (24 per cent); whereas the

lower-proficiency students are about equally as likely to rely on either (18 per cent vs. 15

per cent) to solve their linguistic difficulty. Swain and Lampkin (1995) state that in the

grammatical analysis, there are important differences between higher-and lower-

proficiency learners. The studies show that language proficiency level in a small group or

pairs might influence participants' contribution to construction of meaning making and

interaction with each other during the collaborative learning. Within their discourse, these

contributions and interactions should be investigated.

Speakers' cultural discourses

Besides language proficiency level, speakers' culture might also influence their

contribution to the interactions in small groups. Linguistically, people appear to be more

polite than others; in that, people who grown up in these different cultures might prefer to

give and take feedback differently (Cohen & Olshtain, 1981; Olshtain & Cohen, 1983;

Fraser, 1981; Olshtain, 1983; Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984; Olshtain & Cohen, 1989).

Therefore, if a person with a positive feedback background works with a partner who is

coming from a negative feedback background, there might be some problems not only in

negotiation pattern, but also in the output (Cohen & Olshtain, 1981; Olshtain & Cohen,

1983).

Sato's (1990) study on ethnic styles in English language learning classroom

discourse provided exploratory results on the relationship between ethnicity and the

distribution of verbal interaction in the classroom. Sato (1990) found a relationship









between ethnicity and the number of speaking turns taken by ESL students. That is, the

Asian students in her study took considerably fewer speaking turns with their teachers

than the non-Asian students. Moreover, the Asian learners self-selected less often than

the non-Asian learners and their teachers were also called upon them less often. It is

interesting that the Asian American and Caucasian American teachers behaved no

differently towards the students. The Asian American teacher called less often on the

Asian students than the non-Asian students despite any ethnic ties she may have had with

them.

According to Glew (1998), there may be several reasons for Sato's (1990) findings.

Firstly, the Asian students may be restricted in their "turn-taking behaviors because they

adhere to an interpretation of the student-teacher relationship which pre-allocates

speaking rights in the classroom to the teacher" (p. 91). Secondly, such student-teacher

perceptions may create a spiral effect in the classroom, whereby the teacher calls on the

Asian students less than the non-Asian student because she perceives unwillingness

among the Asian students to talk (Sato, 1990). As a result, the outcome of these two

phenomena is that the ESL students who are unwilling to initiate discussion and rely on

the teacher to allocate speaking opportunities end up completely losing those interaction

opportunities (Glew, 1998). Indeed, "the role of interethnic differences...and interaction

with native speakers remains an issue of fundamental importance" (Sato, 1990, p. 117).

Therefore, according to Glew (1998) further investigation is called for to not only go

beyond the Asian-non-Asian dichotomy and identify potential differences among those

within the ethnic groups represented in classes but also identify in detail the types of

verbal interaction in which ESL students and their teachers participate in the classroom.









Additionally, this further research might examine these differences through student-

student interactions within a small group of nonnative speakers coming from different

cultural backgrounds. This further research might enhance the findings related to Asian

students.

This research seeks to the meaning making process of adult English language

learners from different cultural backgrounds during reading and writing discussions.

Much has been written about talking and reading and talking and writing interactions and

benefits of talk to have a better understanding of reading texts and having better writing

skills having before and after talking process with pairs. Also, much work has been done

on the nature of face-to-face interactions between native and nonnative speakers. What

has not been described is the social discourse interaction of nonnative-nonnative speakers

with different cultural backgrounds interacting with each other in small groups to

accomplish the combined reading and writing tasks in English. How those learners make

meaning of text through interactive language learning and how those learners' prior

experiences including their culture influence their meaning making need further

investigation.














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

Theoretical Orientation

The theoretical orientation of this study is social constructionism, which is based

on Constructionism as an epistemology. Even though "constructionism" in some sources

refers to "social constructionism", in this study both of them will be used separately:

While Constructionism refers to epistemology, social constructionism and constructivism

refer to two theoretical perspectives within the Constructionist epistemology.

Epistemological background of social constructionism is Constructionism and it

can be defined that "all knowledge, and therefore all meaningful reality as such, is

contingent upon human practices, being constructed in and out of interaction between

human beings and their world, and developed and transmitted within an essentially social

context" (Crotty, 1998 p.42). That is, according to Constructionism, meaning is

constructed by human beings when they engage with the world that they are interpreting,

it is not discovered (Crotty, 1998).

Social constructionism is one of two theoretical schools of Constructionism. The

other one is constructivism. Constructivist perspective "emphasizes the instrumental and

practical function of theory construction and knowing" (Schwandt, 1994 p.125). For that

reason, constructivism is used for an individualistic understanding of the construction.

However, social constructionism is used for socially impacted construction; in other

words, it refers to "the collective generation [and transmission] of meaning" (Crotty,









1998). Also, language component of social constructionism is a differentiating factor

(Gergen & Gergen, 1991):

From social constructionist perspective, it is not the cognitive processing of the
single observer that absorbs the object into itself, but it is language that does so.
Accounts of the world (in science and elsewhere) take place within shared systems
of intelligibility usually a spoken or written language. These accounts are not
viewed as the external expression of the speaker's internal processes (such as
cognition, intention), but as an expression of relationships among persons. From
this viewpoint, it is within social interaction that language is generated, sustained,
and abandoned. .. The emphasis is thus not on the individual mind but on the
meanings generated by people as they collectively generate descriptions and
explanations in language (p. 78).

'Social constructionism' term derives from the works of Karl Mannheim (1893-

1947) and from Berger and Luckmann's (1967) The Social Construction ofReality, but

actually the idea went back to radical critics Hegel and Marx (Crotty, 1998). Through

Marx's economic ideas stating that social being determines consciousness; in other

words, "who own the means of production in any society have the power to affect the

kind of consciousness that obtains in that society" (Crotty, 1998) social constructionism

started to being shaped. During its development process, social constructionism

collaborated with different theoretical perspectives, such as phenomenology,

existentialism, symbolic interactionism (Mead, 1964). Berger & Luckmann, (1967)

transferred social constructionism from social psychology to sociology to develop a type

of "social psychology" defining the assumptions of social constructionism. Therefore, it

is possible to see different kinds of social constructionism within different fields and

collaborated with different theoretical perspectives.

In this present study social constructionism refers to the social constructionism

elaborated by Kenneth J. Gergen (1985). According to Gergen (1985), social

constructionism is a movement toward redefining psychological constructs such as









'mind', 'self and 'emotion' as socially constructed processes, to be 'removed from the

head and placed within the realm of social discourse' (p. 271). Moreover, objective

reality is in fact the product of social construction processes under the influence of

cultural, historical, political, and economic conditions. As knowledge is socially

constructed, not only knowledge can vary historically over time and differ across cultural

groups that hold diverse beliefs about human development and nature, but also the social

construction of knowledge varies.

The reason for applying Gergen's social constructionism in this present study is

due to two reasons: Firstly, Gergen is a social psychologist, who elaborated social

psychologist Mead's symbolic interactionist social constructionism (1934) combining

with Berger and Luckmann's (1967) sociological psychology based social

constructionism. Hence, Gergen's perspective of social constructionism is more up-to-

date and it enables studying language to identify knowledge embedded with ideological,

political and permeated with values (Rouse, 1996). Secondly, Gergen is one of the strong

(radical) social constructionist argues that language is embedded in social practices or

forms of life, which limit or close that form of life to others (Giddens, 1993; Payne,

1997). In other words, the world ... is constituted in one way or another as people talk

it, write it and argue it" (Potter, 1996, p.98); and "it is human interchange that gives

language its capacity to mean, and it must stand as the critical locus of concern" (Gergen,

1994a, p. 263). Launching on the idea that access to knowledge is based on language and

social interactions, social constructionism in this present study can shed a light into the

meaning making discourses of English language learners who are coming from different









cultural backgrounds through analyzing the language they use while they are constructing

meaning of a reading text and American culture.

Social constructionism in this present study serves as a theoretical perspective,

which shapes mid-level and micro-level theories in literature review section, research

questions, design of the study, interview questions, researcher's role and interpretation of

the data. For example, research purposes and questions of the present study are related to

participants' collaboration, social interaction, constructing of meaning, and each of

participants contribution to this process. Hence, through the process social constructionist

theory, as a theoretical perspective, guides the study to conceptualize the truth and

knowledge.

Purpose of The Study and Research Questions

Purpose of the study and research questions are shaped by social constructionism as

a theoretical perspective, which indicates that as human beings we are born into a world

of meaning; we enter a social milieu in which a 'system of intelligibility' prevails; we

inherit a 'system of significant symbols'; and for each of us, when we first see the world

in meaningful fashion, we are inevitably viewing it through lenses bestowed upon us by

our culture (Crotty, 1998). Our culture brings things into view for us and endows them

with meaning and, by the same token, leads us to ignore other things. It is not only our

thoughts, but also our emotions are constructed for us (Harre, 1986). Besides being

shaped by the culture that we are born into, we also shape the culture as members:

"society is actively and creatively produced by human beings, social worlds being

'interpretive nets woven by individuals and groups'" (Marshall, 1994 p. 484). Therefore,

in social constructionism, culture should be considered as the source rather than the result

of human thought and behavior (Crotty, 1998) and language "rather than reflecting the









world, it generates it" (Witkin 1999, p. 5); language coordinates and regulates social life

(Gergen, 1994).

Through social constructionism as a theoretical perspective that gives importance

to culture, language and interaction, this qualitative study aims to investigate the

interactions of adult, advanced-level English-language learners who are coming from

different cultural backgrounds, and their meaning making process during reading and

writing activities. Based on this research purpose, the following research questions will

guide the study:

1. How do English language learners' linguistic knowledge of L1 and English
influence discussions?

2. How do students' language and cultural experiences influence their interactions
during discussions?

3. How does interactive language learning interfere language learning?

Subjectivity Statement

This subjectivity statement expresses my subjective position that results from a

previous observation of the teacher that I work with for this present study. The statement

also includes my previous experiences. I have both worked with Asian students, and had

experiences of my own as a student who has attended group work activities during

different periods of my education life. Furthermore, my career as an educator and views

of teaching also influence this research.

First, my previous observation of the teacher that has participated in this present

study indicated that this advance level reading and writing class was based on mostly

teacher-talk rather than student-talk. During the Fall 2003 semester, I visited this

teacher's class to conduct an observation assignment for my course work. During this

two-hour class observation, I realized that the course was based on teacher lecture and









students participated in the class only to ask for unknown words in the reading text and to

answer the questions. There was not any group work, which might influence this study in

a negative way. Even though my participants were different from those I initially

observed, the teacher's style of teaching is the same and the students might have

difficulty adapting to the group work and discussions in this present study.

Secondly, my previous experiences, such as working with Asian students and being

a former student who participated in group work activities at different periods of my

education life, and my view of being a teacher might influence this present study.

Working with Asian students (South Korean and Taiwanese) made me realize that when

they are silent, it does not mean that they are not thinking or they do not understand what

one said. Typically, also, they do not give any paralinguistic cues to the listener such as

nodding or saying "hhmm." During the pilot study, there were some instances where I

was repeating or modifying what I said, but some of the participants interrupted me

saying, "I am thinking." This suggests I interrupted their thinking process, which made

me realize that while working with Asian students I had to be patient before making

elaborations.

Furthermore, the course work that I took during my education at the University of

Florida and in other schools made me aware of the importance of group work. However, I

must admit that at some point I had difficulty to adapting to this activity format as a

foreign language speaker of English. I had difficulty finding the right time to enter into

conversations and to understand when the other speakers have finished. The reason for is

that my educational experiences as an English language learner in Turkey did not include









enough group work activities. The curriculum design and teaching methods were based

on mostly a teacher's lecturing.

Lastly, being a teacher myself and my views of being a teacher might influence this

present study. I view the teacher's role as creating a language environment based on the

student-centered rather than teacher-centered approach. As a teacher I would like to let

the students find the answers first, rather than telling the answers. During this process,

students might have some difficulties and confusion, but I think it is the process of

learning. During this present study, the participants might look for my guidance and

expect to me to tell them the answers. Instead I want them to try to find the answers first,

and this practice may cause some frustrations for the participants. However, I think in

time they might get used to it. Additionally, unlike their classroom teacher I am not a

native speaker; therefore, I might lack first native speaker proficiency, which affects my

teacher authority. If I tell every answer that I know before letting them discuss, this

action will clash with my view (student-centeredness) of teaching and learning.

The Pilot Study

A pilot study was conducted with four participants of the EFL/ESL students

attending to English Language Institute at the University of Florida (UF) in order to get

some insights for this present study. The pilot study investigated the process of

collaboration with a partner impacting on meaning making while reading online

newspaper in English. The theoretical orientation was social constructionism and the data

analysis method was Gee's (1999) discourse analysis.

There were totally four participants: 2 male (Jeff and David), 2 female (Young Me

and Chris). They were English Language Institute (ELI) students at the University of

Florida. Three of the participants were South Korean (Jeff, Young Me, and David) and









one participant (Chris) was Taiwanese; all aged in their twenties. All of the participants

except Jeff were attending the advanced level at ELI; Jeff was attending the upper

intermediate level. All of the participants had been learning English for at least for 8

years and they spent most of this learning process in their native country where English is

taught as a foreign language.

Data was collected through participant observations, interviews and archival

research. During the participant observations, four participants were formed into two

groups according to their schedules as David and Chris, and Jeff and Young Me. While

they were reading an online newspaper together in a computer lab at UF, they were

expected to explain their thinking procedures out-loud to their partner. These reading

sessions, participant observation, happened three times lasting from 30 to 60 minutes per

session. For reading activity, for the first session the online newspaper was chosen by the

researcher (The New York Times) but the article was chosen by the participants. In the

following sessions, second and third sessions, participants chose which online newspaper

they would like to read from the list of the online newspaper options. During the first two

reading sessions participants read each paragraph and then they discussed. For the last

reading section both groups read the whole article first, which was followed by a

discussion. These reading sessions and procedures recorded on audiotape and they were

transcribed by the researcher. The participants checked all transcripts listening to the

audiocassettes for the accuracy.

After each reading sessions, the participants were interviewed individually for

member checking. These interviews were semi-structured, happened three times, lasting

30- 60 minutes each. The interviews were also recorded on audiotape, transcribed by the









researcher and the accuracy was checked by the participants. In each interview, I asked

the same questions to the participants based on the social constructionist theoretical

framework. Also, the sequence of the questions was designed from general questions to

specific ones following Spradley's (1970) words grand-tour and mini tour. For the

archival research reading materials were retrieved from their original online newspaper

links.

In order to analyze the interview data, I applied Gee's discourse data analysis

method (1999). The data was divided into meaning units, including a question asked for

meaning making, discussion about it and the end of discussion with a conclusion. Then,

using data I performed Gee's six building tasks, which are semiotic building, connection

building, political building, world building, activity building and socioculturally situated

identity and relationships. As a last activity, I combined them to show the context that

took place. Data representations were utilized in terms of emphasis, pauses, overlaps, and

laughter to give the audience some idea about the context in which the meaning making

process took place. In order to get an outsider's view on the sample data analyzed

according to Gee (1999), the data should always be triangulated by another graduate

student.

Using the archival data for discourse analysis, I compared what each paragraph was

about, how they were connected to each other and how they were structured (linear or

nonlinear format). Linear format included a short introduction, some development

sections and a conclusion. However, in there were nonlinear elements to the paragraphs

that disrupted the linear organization; for example, there were several back and forth

movements in presenting ideas. In the archival data, I also checked whether there were









any pictures, any font color change, and any hyperlinks; I analyzed how these functions

operated within the entire discourse.

Findings

The data analysis through different sources (participant observations, interviews,

and archival documents) revealed that meaning-making process was in a nonlinear form,

actually in a spinal shape adding new information to the previous discussion points.

Therefore, for reading activities, the reading instruction sequence (first activating

background knowledge, second cultivating vocabulary, and then comprehension) defined

by Anderson (1999) and Dixon & Nessel (1992) could be replaced with recursive

movements in which the reading instruction features are integrated and developing at the

same time, because meaning-making is not a linear path. Additionally, during meaning

making processes participants used different strategies, such as guessing from context,

using different forms of words, and activating background knowledge (cultural,

experiential, and so forth).

The partners balanced their relative positions of power in different sections of the

meaning making process. The data indicated that both Jeff and David felt themselves less

powerful in vocabulary and figurative speech explanations as Chris and Young Me's

language proficiency levels made them a leader in those cases. However, the roles

changed in favor of David and Jeff while explaining background knowledge. Also, during

the first interviews David and Jeff were less powerful, through the third interview their

power started to increase as they took role of giving background information to their

partners. A participant whose vocabulary proficiency level was higher than the other

either explained the meaning of the unknown vocabulary or she/he tried to guess from a

context. Therefore, the partner with a higher vocabulary proficiency level had more









power in this section; the other participant balanced this power-struggle through giving

background knowledge to the vocabulary proficient one. Hence, each participant equally

participated to the meaning making processes. However, the power status changed very

frequently between the participants during meaning making processes.

In terms of motivation, reading with a partner had a positive impact on the

participants as it made reading more fun and enabled more interactions and discussion,

such as guessing meanings of words, getting more detailed information from the text,

realizing their partners' different opinions about the same topic, and receiving corrections

from a partner of one's understanding of texts. All the participants believed that reading

with a partner made them better able to figure out vocabularies, figurative speech and

American culture. They felt more powerful, more motivated, and they were better able to

enjoy reading together than they did reading alone even though it took more time than

reading alone.

Implications

The pilot study had implications in terms of grouping participants and establishing

participants' and researcher's roles. As a researcher my role as a participant was neither a

teacher nor a controller. However, I had difficulty in establishing my role as a participant

especially in the first meetings in which I was the only one who was asking questions at

the end of long silent moments to involve participants in the conversation. Also during

interviews, I always asked questions without expressing my own point of view as a

participant. This relational authority might be overcome if I had been involved more as a

participant through answering interview questions as a participant in the same way other

participants were expected to participate, and having group interviews instead of

individual interviews. In a group, when modification of the questions was required other









group members could explain the question. As group interviews might keep the

conversation dynamic and self-regulated, other authority-based problems could also be

solved. For example, having three individual interviews with the same questions tended

to cause participants to answer questions in the same way (memorization). In some cases

it was difficult to keep participants (i.e., Jeff) on the question. Therefore, I was asking the

same questions looking for further explanation. However, through group interviews and

group observations (instead of pairs) I could have participated more than simply serving

as a regulator. Also, having the participants' feedback as a group instead of peer

debriefing about the data analysis would have been beneficial as it could give more

participants more active role in the study.

Another implication of the pilot study is the pairing of the participants. In the pilot

study the participants were paired according to their schedule and one pair was comprised

of two South Korean participants, which makes unauthentic interaction. Two people

shared the same culture and language spoke English while interacting each other. In the

pilot study this focus was not realized. It was determined that for the present study it

might be better if each participant in a group at least belongs to a different country even

though the language might be similar; this mixing would establishing the authenticity in

interaction. For further research, participants' interactions should be investigated in small

groups instead of pairs. Investigating culturally diverse students' interaction in small

groups, researchers' role as a participant to those interactions and participants'

involvement into the data analysis process may provide further information about

language learning.









The Setting

The advanced reading and writing class of the English Language Institute (ELI) is

located at Normal Hall at University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Gainesville, with a

population of more than 198,000, is located in the north-central Florida county of

Alachua. The University of Florida is one of the preeminent universities in the United

States attracting students from all 50 states and from 100 countries (City of Gainesville,

2006). The University of Florida is a comprehensive university, offering degrees in most

known fields of study. The campus extends over 800 hectares. It employs more than 4000

faculty members and trains more than 42,000 students at one time. The ELI is a self-

supporting program of the University of Florida located on the historic University of

Florida campus. The programs are based on nearly 50 years of second language teaching

experience and research. The core classes include Listening/Speaking, Grammar, and

Reading/Writing classes. Students are placed into levels for each skill at the beginning of

each term according to their proficiency in each skill. The ELI also offers elective

courses in TOEFL, Business English, U.S. Culture, Pronunciation, Conversation

Strategies, and other special courses that vary by term (ELI, 2005). The primary mission

of the intensive English program is to prepare international students for successful study

at the graduate or undergraduate level in institutions of higher learning in the USA (ELI,

2005). Classes at the ELI are small, averaging 12 students, allowing very individualized

instruction. Advance reading and writing classroom is located on the third floor of the

Norman Hall at the Education building of University of Florida. In a long corridor on the

left site all other classrooms are located. Advance level classroom is located in the middle

section. In the classroom, the left side is covered with windows, the right side with dusty

bookshelves that are empty. The front of the room has a blackboard in front of which is









the teacher's desk which faces students whose desks form two lines of 'u' shape. Above

the chalkboard there is clock facing the students. All chairs are old and made of wood.

The floors are covered with bluish carpet. There are few cultural elements: a world map

located behind the students' sitting places on the right corner and a picture representing a

view from Honduras located in front of windows on the left corner towards the

chalkboard.

The participants participate in the reading discussion sessions from 8:00 a.m. to

10:00 a.m. on Mondays at my office located at Norman Hall room number 356, which is

very close to the classroom. The interviews also took place in the same place at 11:00

a.m. as it was very quiet and very close to the participants' classroom. From 10:00 to

11:00 a.m. the participants had another session and it was easy for them to come to my

office instead of looking for other places for the meeting. On Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m.

to 10:00 a.m. there were writing discussions and writing interviews from 11:00 a.m. to

1:00 p.m. at the same place. The feedback session occurred in the same place.

The reason for choosing my office for reading and writing discussions instead of

the classroom was that there were two other groups guided by the teacher besides the

group of participants of this study in the classroom which interfered with tape recording

during the first week of data collection.

Participants

Six English Language Institute students attending to the advanced level reading and

writing class were chosen for this study. Their language proficiency has already been

already assessed and grouped according to the ELI Language Proficiency Test, which is

applied to all of the students enrolled at the ELI at the beginning of the each academic

semester.









They were recruited by a teacher of advanced reading and writing class at the ELI.

As I mentioned before, I have known the teacher from a course that I took during my

Ph.D. program (Fall 2002, TSL 6371 Materials and Techniques in Teaching English as a

Second Language) during which I observed his class. In the first meeting with the

teacher, I explained the purpose of this present study to the teacher and he gave me a

brief explanation about the participants, such as their nationality and their age range. In

our second meeting, the teacher rated all the students in the class according to their

language proficiency level (considering their verbal participation to the class and

grammaticality of the works they submitted to the teacher) and according to their

attendance rate on the class.

After eliminating the students who have low attendance rates in the class, first I

grouped students according to their home country under the three main titles: European,

Hispanic and Asian. Second, under these main titles, I grouped students according to their

home country and then according to their gender. As there are Hispanic and European

female participants, I have decided to include also female participants from Asian

cultures. The reason for not choosing male Asian participants is that there would be only

one male participants, which might influence the power balance during the discussions as

well reported by Lee (1993). The reason for including their home country is that even

though some students share the same or similar native language, their country which is

part of their culture can enable them to bring their own culture and discourse into

discussions and meaning making process.

The participants of this present study are Vanessa, Patricia, KyungOk, Masami,

Isabel and Gosia, which are all pseudo names. Through the study the terms, Asian,









European and Hispanic refer to these participants specifically and the terms, Asian

culture, European culture and Hispanic culture also refer these participants' cultural

background.

Table 3-1. Participants
Ethnicity Country Name The teacher's rating (1 is the
best, 15 is the worst)
Asian Japan Masami 13
Korea KyungOk 10
European Poland Gosia 1
Switzerland Isabel 2
Hispanic Honduras Vanessa 5
Venezuela Patricia 9

Vanessa is 25 year old and she is from Honduras. She has been in the U.S. for five

months, and she has been learning English for eight years starting from pre-school. Her

native language is Spanish and she graduated from a college with a B.A. degree in

Industrial Engineering. She attended Catholic school in her country and she is interested

in psychology. A relevant interest of hers is watching American movies without any

translation, even though most American movies in her country are translated.

Patricia is an 18 years old from Venezuela. She graduated from high school and

came to the U.S. for language education. She has been in the U.S. for six months. She

attended Catholic school in her country. When she returns to her country, she wants to

continue her education through attending college. She is interested in fashion design and

make-up art but her mother wants her study for a more practical career. Her native

language is Spanish and she started learning English when she was 11 years old. She

stated that she loves English. While she rarely reads any magazines or academic papers in

English in Venezuela, at UF not only did she frequently reads them but also prefers

watching movies in English without any translation.









KyungOk is around 25 years old and she has been learning English since high

school-for ten years. She majored in English literature and she was attending graduate

school for her master degree in her country, Korea. She wants to enroll in an English

language teaching program (ESOL/TESOL) to continue her graduate school life in the

U.S. Her native language is Korean. She has been in the U.S. for six months.

Masami is 22 years old from Japan. Her native language is Japanese and she has

been learning English for nine years, since she was 12 years old. She has been in

Australia for one month and she has been in the U.S. for last eight months. She has

graduated from a college in her country. In the U.S. Masami prefers watching movies

without any translation while she needed translation in her country.

Isabel is 19 years old and she just graduated from high school. She is from

Switzerland and her native language is French. Her mother's native language is Spanish

and her father's native language is French. Isabel has been learning English for eight

years starting from middle school and she has a great interest in learning languages.

Besides French, she also knows German, Spanish and Italian. She has been in the U.S. for

eight months and she is staying with her aunts in Gainesville. Besides attending the ELI,

she also takes a piano course. While she rarely read anything in English in her country,

here she frequently reads magazines, and academic articles in English and watches

movies without any translation.

Gosia is 25 years old and she is from Poland. Her native language is Polish and she

has graduated from a college in Poland with a B.A. degree in Marketing. She has been

learning English for two years, starting at college and she has been in the U.S. for seven

months. Besides taking classes at ELI, she is also attending marketing and business









courses offered by the University of Florida. While she was frequently watches movies in

translation in her country, here she watches them without any translation. Her current

boyfriend is a native speaker of English and she has been speaking with him in English.

Unlike other participants, her English skills includes the ability to use colloquial words

and phrases from everyday life, such as "come on guys" and "oh man" [Field notes,

March 21, 2005].

Data Collection

The data collection methods were participant observations, semi-structured

interviews, archival data collection and a feedback session. The reason for using different

data collection methods was to triangulate the data in terms of between method

triangulation (Denzin, 1970). The participant observations for both reading and writing

discussions provided insights for the participants' interaction process with each other and

for the role of participants' socio-cultural identity for their comprehension and meaning

making process. Semi-structured interviews served as a member checking for the

participant observations and they also answered questions about how students' meaning

making during reading and writing discussions influence their writing and how

interactive language learning influence English language learning (benefits, difficulties,

and so forth). Archival research helped the documentation of products studied (i.e,

reading text) and created during this study (i.e., journals, summaries, corrected

summaries). It also helped getting more detailed information, doing member check and

triangulated the data, such as participant journals. As this study is guided by the social

constructionist theory, the participants' contribution to the research process has been

maximized through a feedback session, in which participants analyzed the data with the

researcher and provide their feedback and comment to her.









As the theoretical framework of this present study is social constructionism, as a

researcher during the data collection processes I was one of the participants of the group:

another language learner coming from different cultural background, not a teacher. Like

other group members, I wrote my own summary of the text and share it with the group

for corrections and feedback, answering the interview questions, asking the words that I

did not know within the reading text, sharing my knowledge with them and so forth. The

total data collection process took five weeks. The first week was the trail activity for the

participants, the teacher and me. This trial activity could not be included into this present

study as the tape recording quality was very bad and participants did not attend to the

activity regularly (e.g. they did not come to class regularly, they did not submit their

work on time or at all). Also, there was miscommunication between the participants and

me in terms of the directions related to the activities. Therefore, the real data collection

started the following week as they have been showed in the Tables below.

The reading texts were about various topics. The first reading is "To spank or not

to spank" an article published in Gainesville Sun on October 16, 2002 and retrieved from

the online version of the newspaper on April 15, 2003 by Steve (the teacher) (see

Appendix). It is two pages long and the paragraphs are very short usually two or three

lines. The article written in argumentative style presents two sides who are in favor and

against to spanking. The second reading text is taken from a book written by Luigi

Barzani (see Appendix). The title of the book is "The Europeans", which includes seven

chapters: The Elusive Europeans, The Imperturbable British, The Mutable Germans, The

Quarrelsome French, The Flexible Italians, The Careful Dutch, and The Baffling

Americans. The taken part is about Americans, last chapter The Baffling Americans









focusing on what makes an American an American. This reading text is one page long

including three paragraphs and there is no title on the top of the page. The last reading

text is a PDF document taken from the University of Florida web page and the article is

titled "In the classroom, Life experience, UF students learn about life by studying the

culture of death" with a picture of Susan Bluck who offers this course at UF (see

Appendix). Written by Staci Zavattaro this one page biography explains what the course

is about, what kind of activities it includes and students' opinion about the course.

Table 3-2. Weekl, Groupl: Hispanic & European Participants (Patricia, Vanessa, Isabel
and Gosia)
Days Morning Afternoon
Participant Interview Archival
observation research
Monday Reading Read the Group Reading
"To spank or not to spank" text and interview text,
discuss about reading participants'
discussion reading
texts
Tuesday Writing summaries in the computer lab during reading and journal
writing class and sending it to group members
Wednesday Writing discussion Read the Group Summaries,
The summary of "To spank or summaries interview corrected
not to spank" and discuss about writing summaries
discussion by group
members
Thursday Rewriting summaries in the computer lab during reading and journal
writing class and sending it to group members

Table 3-3. Week 2, Group 2: Asian & European Participants (KyungOk, Masami, Isabel
and Gosia)
Days Morning Afternoon
Participant Interview Archival
observation research
Monday Reading Read the Group Reading
"The Baffling Americans" text and interview text,
discuss about reading participants
discussion reading
texts
Tuesday Writing summaries in the computer lab during reading and journal
writing class and sending it to group members









Table 3-3. Continued
Days Morning Afternoon
Participant Interview Archival
observation research
Wednesday Writing discussion Read the Group Summaries,
The summary of "The summaries interview corrected
Baffling Americans" and discuss about writing summaries
discussion by group
members
Thursday Rewriting summaries in the computer lab during reading and journal
writing class and sending it to group members


Table 3-4. Week3, Group3: Hispanic & Asian Participants (Patricia, Vanessa, KyungOk
and Masami
Days Morning Afternoon
Participant Interview Archival
observation research
Monday Reading Read the text Group Reading
"In the classroom, Life and discuss interview text,
experience, UF students about reading participants'
learn about life by studying discussion reading
the culture of death" texts
Tuesday Writing summaries in the computer lab during reading and journal
writing class and sending it to group members
Wednesday Writing discussion Read the Group Summaries,
The summary of "In the summaries interview corrected
classroom, Life experience, and discuss about writing summaries
UF students learn about life discussion by group
by studying the culture of members
death"
Thursday Rewriting summaries in the computer lab during reading and journal
writing class and sending it to group members

Table 3-5. Week 4: Feedback session, all participants (Masami, KyungOk, Gosia, Isabel,
Patricia, Vanessa)
Day Activity
After all data collection and Asking some sections of data to participants, presenting
preliminary data analysis my findings, having discussion and getting feedback.
ends, 60 minutes

Participant Observation

In this present study Danny L. Jorgensen's (1989) participant observations is used

for reading discussions and writing discussions. As a researcher, in each observation I









had the membership role (Jorgensen, 1989) and my involvement was overt (with the

knowledge of insiders). Reading discussions included silent reading of a text (each time

different text); asking unknown words, meaning of sentences, sentence structures; talking

about the main idea and supporting ideas; expressing individual thoughts and experiences

and so forth. Writing discussions included reading each others' summaries; correcting

their grammar; asking for clarifications; giving suggestions; and organization and so

forth. The purpose of both reading and writing observations is to provide answers to how

participants coming from different cultural backgrounds make meaning while reading and

writing through interactive learning and how participants' socio-cultural identity play a

role in their comprehension and meaning making process. There were three reading

observation and three writing observation which will take 45 to 60 minutes each of them.

Reading discussions were done on Mondays at class time; the next day (Tuesday)

during the Reading and Writing class (at a computer lab), the participants wrote their

summaries in the computer lab. On Wednesdays writing discussions were done at class

time. On Thursdays the participants during their computer lab class of Reading and

Writing course rewrote their summaries. This weekly cycle was followed with different

group combinations with six participants for three weeks: The first week the first group

will include Hispanic and European participants (Vanessa, Patricia, Gosia and Isabel,

from Honduras, Venezuela, Poland and Switzerland). The second week the group

included European and Asian participants (Gosia, Isabel, KyungOk and Masami, from

Poland, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan). The third week the group included Asian

and Hispanic participants (KyungOk, Masami, Vanessa and Patricia, from South Korea,

Japan, Honduras and Venezuela).









All of the reading and writing observations took a place in my office located very

close to the class. All the discussions were tape-recorded and transcribed by the

researcher. Also, after each participant observation, the researcher kept field notes and

extended notes about each session.

Interviews

Other data collection method, semi-structured interviews (Kvale, 1996), were also

employed in this study to provide insights for the participant observations and to answer

the questions about how students' meaning making during reading and writing

discussions contribute to their writing and how interactive language learning influence

English language learning (benefits, difficulties, and so forth).

These interviews were done following the observations of reading and writing

discussions. Totally there were six interviews and each interview lasted 45-60 minutes

with each group in my office located very close to the Reading and Writing class at ELI.

Interview questions were focused on social constructionist theoretical frame (see

interview questions in appendix). Therefore, the questions were included some key words

reflecting the theoretical frame, such as "role", "participating" and "collaboration".

Similar to the pilot study, in this study the sequence of the questions was designed from

general questions to specific ones following Spradley's (1970) words grand-tour and mini

tour. (See Appendix for the interview questions and interview guide).

Different from the pilot study in which I interviewed with each group member

individually, in this present study I have interviewed with the groups who have

participated to the study (first week Hispanics and Europeans, second week Europeans

and Asians and lastly, Hispanics and Asians). All interviews were recorded on an audio-

tape and transcribed by the researcher.









Archival Data Collection

Archival research is another data collection method (Hill, 1993) that was employed

in this study. Archival documents were collected simultaneously during the participant

observations, interviews and the feedback session. The archival data included the

participants' summaries (first and rewritten), their group members' notes on that

summaries (each group member has copies of other group members' summaries), their

journals (two times each week), the researcher's field notes, the reading texts given to the

groups, teacher's feedbacks on participants' summaries, the researcher's field notes.

Feedback Session

The last data collection method is the feedback sessions (Kvale, 1989). After

observing the groups for both reading and writing discussions and interviewing with them

after each discussions, there was a feedback session which included whole group

members who participated to this study. For this feedback session all participants and I

came together to analyze the data together and review the findings of the study with the

researcher. As this study is guided by the social constructionist theory, the participants'

contribution to the research process has been maximized through this feedback session.

This feedback session also took place in my office located at Norman Hall very close to

the Reading and Writing class and it took 60 minutes. This session was also audio-

recorded and transcribed by the researcher.

Discourse Analysis

In this study the data analysis method is Discourse analysis (Gee, 1999, 2005),

which is used as a method or set of tools for doing qualitative research developed in the

sociology field emphasizing language in-use. The reason for using Gee's discourse

analysis in this study is that the research questions of this study investigate participants'









language use, meaning making while learning English and American culture interwoven

with their own and other group members' cultural and social discourses. In that, Gee's

tools for discourse analysis for both linguistic and social structures can serve to

investigate this purpose. Social constructionism as a theoretical background and

discourse analysis (Gee, 1999, 2005) as a data analysis method will guide this present

study. As James Gee (1992, 1996, 2001) combined discourse analysis with the literacy

field, I chose Gee's (1999/2005) discourse analysis method in this study. Different from

the pilot study in which participants took a medium role, in this present study participants

have taken a major role through participating to the data analysis. Hence, participants

have contributed to the study during the whole process of data collection, and data

analysis applying social constructionist theoretical perspective at each section of this

study.

There are two different conceptions of discourse analysis: discourse analysis used

as a "unified body of theory, method, and practice goes by that name"; and discourse

analysis used as "a method or set of tools for doing qualitative research" (Gee et al.,

1992). In this present study the second concept will be considered as a Discourse

analysis.

Also, within this second concept of Discourse analysis there are different variations

evolved in the different disciplines: linguistics, cognitive psychology, sociolinguistics

and poststructuralism, and sociology (Potter, 2002). Firstly, in Linguistics field discourse

analysis has been applied to studies on sentence or utterance cohere into discourse aiming

at duplicating on a wider canvas the success of linguistics analyses on units such as

sentences (Brown & Yule, 1983). Secondly, discourse analysis in Cognitive Psychology









focuses on mental scripts and schemata are used to make sense of narrative. In other

words, it answers to: "Do people work with story grammars to understand narratives in

the way they use sentence grammars to understand sentences" (van Dijk & Kintch,

1983)? Similar to linguistics, the aim is to duplicate some of the success of work on

grammar in the psychological domain. Thirdly, in Sociolinguistics discourse analysis

focuses on interactions, such as classroom interaction in which typical interaction

patterns in teaching based around "initiation- response- feedback" structures (Sinclair &

Coulthard (1975). The aim of discourse analysis in this discipline is to produce a model

that would make sense of discourse structure in a whole range of different settings

(Coulthard & Montgomery, 1981). Fourthly, in poststructuralism a very different

variation of discourse analysis developed, called as "continental discourse analysis" in

order to differentiate it from its rather more strait-laced Anglo-Saxon counterparts.

Associated with Michael Foucault, this version of discourse analysis is less concerned

with discourse in terms of specific interaction as with how a discourse, or a set of

"statements", comes to constitute objects and subjects. The last variation of discourse

analysis developed in the field of sociology and more recently in social psychology and

communications (Billig, 1992; Edwards & Potter, 1992; Gilbert & Mulkay, 1984; Potter

& Wetherell, 1987). There are some differences between this one and the other

variations. For example, in this variation the cognitivism of the work in linguistics and

cognitive psychology is rejected because it is very difficult to properly address how

discourse is oriented to action (Edwards, 1997). Also, this latest version criticizes the

discourse analysis in sociolinguistics as it is based on mechanistic linguistic analysis and

inattentive to the complex social practices that take place in classrooms and other









discourses. Additionally, the latest variation, though it was influenced by Foucauldian

approaches to discourse, states similar doubts about the discourse analysis in

poststructuralism (Potter, 2002). Among these different variations of discourse, none of

them is uniquely "right" because different variations might fit different issues and

questions better or worse than others; and different approaches sometimes reach similar

conclusions though using somewhat different tools and terminologies connected to

different "microcommunities" of researchers (Gee, 1999). In this study the focus is on the

latest discourse analysis, which has developed in sociology emphasizing language-in-use.

Therefore, when I state "discourse analysis", I am referring to this version. To sum up,

with the discourse analysis term in this study I am referring to the 'discourse analysis'

which is used as a "method or set of tools for doing qualitative research" (Gee et al.,

1992) and the one that is developed in sociology emphasizing language-in-use;

specifically Gee's (1999, 2005) discourse analysis.

According to Gee's (1999, 2005), discourse analysis is the analysis of language, as

it is used to enact activities, perspectives, and identities. General principles of discourse

analysis is that "rule-governed and internally structured human discourse is produced by

speakers who are ineluctably situated in a sociohistorical matrix, whose cultural, political,

economic, social, and personal realities shape the discourse; and discourse itself

constitutes or embodies important aspects of that sociohistorical matrix. In other words,

discourse reflects human experience and, at the same time, constitutes important parts of

that experience. Thus, discourse analysis may be concerned with any part of human

experience touched on or constituted by discourse" (Gee et al., 1992 p.229). As it is

understood from its definition and general principles, discourse analysis focuses on









"Discourse" and "discourse" in language. "discourse" with a "little d" refers to "how

language is used "on site" to enact activities and identities" (Gee, 1999, p.7). In other

words, language alone is "little d". "Discourses" with a capital "D," refers to "different

ways in which we humans integrate language with non-language "stuff," such as different

ways of thinking, acting, interacting, valuing, feeling, believing, and using symbols,

tools, and objects in the right places and at the right times so as to enact and recognize

different identities and activities, give the material world certain meanings, distribute

social goods in a certain way, make certain sorts of meaningful connections in our

experience, and privilege certain symbol systems and ways of knowing over others"

(Gee, 1999, p.7). In other words, Discourses with a capital "D," is one's identity kit

shaping one's way of speaking, thinking, and behaving in the world so as to take on a

particular role that others will recognize as being themselves (Alvermann, 2000).

According to Gee (1999), we are all members of many different Discourses, which often

influence each other in positive and negative ways, and which sometimes collaborate

with each other to create new ones. For example,

When you "pull off' being a culturally-specific sort of "everyday" person, a
"regular" at the local bar, a certain type of African-American or Greek-Australian,
a certain type of cutting-edge particle physicist or teenage heavy-metal enthusiast, a
teacher or a student of a certain sort, or any of a great many other "ways of being in
the world," you use language and "other stuff' ways of acting, interacting,
feeling, believing, valuing, together with other people and with various sorts of
characteristic objects, symbols, tools, and technologies to recognize yourself and
others as meaning and meaningful in certain ways. In turn, you produce, reproduce,
sustain, and transform a given "form of life" or Discourse. All life for all of us is
just a patchwork of thoughts, words, objects, events, actions, and interactions in
Discourses (Gee, 1999 p.7).

Discourse analysis combines both these linguistic and social structures features

within itself. According to Gee (1999), discourse analysis indicates that humans

" i e giz/e certain patterns in our experience of the world. These patterns include one of









the many "situated meanings" of a word. Words involve explanation of these patterns

(Anglin 1977; Keil 1979, 1989), but different social and cultural groups, different age

groups and genders, have different "explanatory theories" about these words. Moreover,

all these theories are shaped by "status". In other words, these theories are rooted in the

practices of the sociocultural groups to which the learner belongs. Since these theories are

rooted in the practices of socioculturally defined groups of people, they are called as

"cultural models" (D'Andrade 1995; D'Andrade and Strauss 1992; Holland and Quinn

1987; Shore 1996; Strauss and Quinn 1997). Even though people are shaped and shapes

cultures, there is always interactions because "bits and pieces of cultural models are in

people's heads (different bits and pieces for different people), while other bits and pieces

reside in the practices and settings of cultural groups and, thus, need not take up

residence inside heads at all" (Gee, 1999, p. 43).

It is suggested that in interpreting data in discourse analysis, there are two kinds of

components: social structure (macro level tools, task buildings), and linguistic structures

(micro level tools) (Gee, 2005). Among six task builders (significance, activities,

identities, relationships, politics, connections, and sign system & knowledge), many of

them have been applied to the data but in some cases it could not be possible to identify

all of them. Linguistic structures, including function words, content words, information,

lines and stanzas have been considered. Stress and intonations were not applied because

Gee's (2005) suggestions are for native speakers of English; however, the participants of

this study are coming from different language backgrounds with different stress forms,

and as a researcher I do not know these various language and stress formations and their

significance in their cultures.









As suggested by Gee (2005), all the data was first transcribed. As data analysis

method is discourse analysis, in the transcriptions (both observations, and interviews)

data representation was utilized in terms of presenting emphasis, pauses, overlaps, and

laughter to provide a context that meaning making processes took place. Secondly, within

the data stanzas meaning units were identified based on situated meanings, discourse

models, social languages, discourses and conversations (Gee, 2005). Then stanza lines

were identified, including function words, content words and information. These

linguistic features provide an answer to how discourses, social activities, socially situated

identities, discourse models are being designed linguistically in the data (Gee, 2005).

Thirdly, for each stanza twenty-six questions identifying six building tasks were asked.

These questions helped me to find situated meanings, discourse models, social languages,

discourses and conversations showing how social activities and socially situated identities

are being enacted (Gee, 2005).

After finding answers to these questions, themes (motifs) were created and the

analysis was organized to address to the research questions of the present study (Gee,

2005). The findings were compared with the archival data including the participants'

summaries, journals and the reading text as data triangulation.

Validity

In Discourse analysis, validity does not "reflect reality in any simple way" (Mishler

1990; Carspecken, 1996, Gee, 2005) because "reality" is not only constructed (Hacking,

2000); meaning that both human construction and what is "out there" beyond human

control play a role in construction of reality (Gee, 2005; Hacking, 2000). Also, because

language as reflexively related to situation and discourse in return reflect the language,

analyst "interprets his/her data in a certain way and those data so interpreted, in turn,









render the analysis meaningful in a certain way and not others" (Gee, 2005 p .113).

Therefore, as Gee (2005) suggests validity should be taken to be something that different

analysis can have more or less and validity is not for "once and all" but it is open to

further discussions and dispute. According to Gee (2005) validity for discourse analysis

is based on four elements:

Convergence: a discourse analysis is more, rather than less, valid (i.e.,
"trustworthy"), the more the answers to the twenty-six questions above converge in
the way they support the analysis or, put the matter the other way around, the more
the analysis offers compatible and convincing answers to many or all of them.

Agreement: answers to the twenty-six questions above are more convincing the
more "native speakers" of the social languages in the data and "members" of the
Discourses implicated in the data agree that the analysis reflects how such social
languages actually can function in such settings. The native speakers do not need to
know why or how their social languages so function, just that they can. Answer to
the twenty-six questions are more convincing the more other discourse analysts
(who accept our basic theoretical assumptions and tools), or other sorts of
researchers (e.g., ethnographic researchers), tend to support our conclusions

Coverage: the analysis is more valid the more it can be applied to related sorts of
data. This includes being able to make sense of what has come before and after the
situation being analyzed and being able to predict the sorts of things that might
happen in related sorts of situations.

Linguistic detail: the analysis is more valid the more it is tightly tied to details of
linguistic structure. All human languages are evolved, biologically and culturally,
to serve an array of different communication functions. For this reason, the
grammar of any social language is composed of specific forms that are "designed"
to carry out more than one function. Part of what makes a discourse analysis valid,
then, is that the analyst is able to argue that the communicative functions being
uncovered in the analysis are linked to grammatical devices that manifestly can and
do serve these functions, according to the judgments of "native speakers" of the
social languages involved and the analyses of linguists. (p. 113)

In this present study Gee's (2005) these four validity elements were applied through

answering twenty-six questions about task buildings as convergence and the agreement of

these answers were discussed with the participants during the feedback session

(agreement and coverage). Also, linguistic details supported the analysis through









applying Gee's (2005) linguistic structures (micro level tools) to the data to support the

social structure (macro level tools, task buildings).

Limitations

The possible limitations of the study are related to my subjectivity, theoretical

perspective, data collection, data analysis and setting. Firstly, related to my subjectivity

as a researcher I do not know specific knowledge about Hispanic, Asian and European

cultures. Even though I have completed several studies with the Asian students coming

from Taiwan and South Korea, there might be some cultural points that I might not

understand well. However, this limitation was overcome by the feedback session that I

have conducted with the participants. Additionally, my subjectivity towards the

classroom teacher as he considered this study as an "experiment" in his class and as

through his authoritative figure indicated that I could involve the class within some

limitations. In other words, he did not want to make changes in his curriculum and he did

not want to spend much time on the activities, which might be required by this study.

Also, he has never applied group work activities before in his class; therefore,

participants might have had difficulty in adapting to the group work and working with

their group members. As the interaction in the classroom is teacher to student and student

to teacher, participants might get used to getting a correct answer to their questions

immediately as they asked to the teacher. However, during the group work activity some

questions might not be answered and this situation might create frustration. Secondly,

theoretical perspective of this study, which is social constructionism, limits this study as

knowledge is constructed is specific to the group members including me. In other words,

meaning is situated within this discourse because in a social constructionism framework

individuals and individual meaning-making are relational to groups. Thirdly, data









collection methods include audio recording and the researcher's field notes which might

exclude some extralinguistic features within the discourse. Also, as I am the only

researcher in the field, I might not give my whole attention to the various events that are

happening at the same time. In terms of the participants, the participants in this present

study turned to be all female and aged from 17 to 26, this study can provide insights for

these participants' discourses. Further studies can work on mixed gender groups and

different age groups' interactions and meaning making processes.

As data analysis, discourse analysis is employed in this study in a rubric that

suggests that reality is represented through language in transcriptions. Studying a group

interaction provides a high possibility to have more overlaps in speech which might result

in inaccurate or incomplete transcriptions. Lastly, the setting had to be my office for data

collection instead of the classroom, especially for participant observation, as there were

two other groups in the class which caused so much noise that it almost made the

recording impossible. Further research might investigate the interaction within a

classroom with teacher presence.














CHAPTER 4
LINGUISTIC PATTERN OF DISCUSSION

This chapter uses a linguistic perspective to address patterns within the

participants' small group reading and writing discussions. Firstly, I will explain the

language pattern of reading discussions. During the reading discussions participants

focused on language to decode words (Word Attack) in the reading texts. In this process,

first language and proficiency level of English morphology and lexicon affected their

meaning making of the reading texts. Secondly, I explain the language pattern of

discussions about writing. During the writing discussions, participants focused on

language while discussing grammar and syntactic structure of their summaries on reading

texts. Through an analysis of the writing discussions two major topics emerged which

made participants focus more on language issues: differences in syntactic structures of

first language and English (L2), and challenges in translating culturally embedded

concepts and idioms from first language to English (L2).

To close this chapter I summarize the findings related to linguistic pattern of

discussions in reading and writing under "Participants' Explorations About Their

Language Learning with a Linguistic Focus." In the next chapter I address the social

pattern of discussing reading and writing. Later, in chapter 6, I will connect the linguistic

and social-cultural results of this research together in order to arrive at some tentative

conclusions on how the small group interactions may support understanding of the texts,

writing summaries, and how the group interactions may support L2 acquisition.









Language as the Focus in Reading

During the reading discussions, participants gave more importance to encoding

unknown words in the texts either directly (through asking unknown words to group

members) or indirectly (through content discussions). Due to participants' overemphasis

on unknown vocabulary, their perception of reading comprehension was subjected to

Word Attack in which participants were working on constructing meaning of words in

the reading texts.

Participants engaged in group discussions, working on unknown words to aid their

understanding of the reading text. When language learners struggle to comprehend a text

it is a natural process of learning for them to ask questions about grammar and

vocabulary (Blyth, 2003). However, in this study, this process of learning was inhibited

for some participants because of their hesitancy to ask their group members too many

questions about unknown vocabulary and grammatical structures. They were also

reluctant to ask for assistance in coming up with background knowledge for the topic. For

instance, Masami stated that she did not understand the text because there were too many

unknown words for her to handle on her own or to ask for the help of group members.

Even though she looked for their meaning in a dictionary at home, she could not

understand some of their meanings. Additionally, as Masami could not understand the

whole text due to the unknown words, she tended to use almost the same vocabulary and

syntactic structures of the reading text in her summary, such that she might be accused of

as plagiarism (Brown, 2004; Fox, 1994; Kern, 2003). However, the reasons behind

Masami's act are both linguistic and cultural. It is linguistic because she lacks trust in her

English language skills and thus in her ability to summarize the text clearly (Fu, 2006). It

is cultural because of the scholarly tradition in which she has been trained may not









construe repeating the original passages of the text as a form of plagiarism (Pennycook,

1996). As the study progressed Masami adjusted to the scaffolding in the discussion

groups and she overcame the linguistic and cultural issues that prevented her from asking

more questions (see Education system in Chapter 5).

Group members scaffolded each other when they were working on Word Attack in

the reading texts. In this scaffolding process, similarities between participants' first

languages and English (L2), and their language proficiency of English in morphology and

lexicon combined to facilitate their contribution to the discussion and meaning making.

Differences Between First Language and English Inhibit Decoding Words

The participants in this study came from diverse language backgrounds (see

Methodology): Spanish (in Honduras and Venezuela), Polish (in Poland), French and

Italian (in Switzerland), Japanese (in Japan), Korean (in South Korea) and Turkish (in

Turkey). The languages of the participants belong to different genealogies as summarized

in the table below.

Table 4-1.The roots of languages (Leon, 2006)
Participants' Countries Languages Language families Language
names root
Patricia Venezuela
Vanessa Honduras Spanish
Gosia Poland Polish Indo-European Latin
Isabel Switzerland French, Italian,
and German
Masami Japan Japanese Considered a possible
KyungOk South Korea Korean Altaic or Japonic
Yildiz (the Turkey Turkish Ural-Altaic
researcher)____

Hispanic and European participants were able to guess some unknown words and

concepts correctly in the reading texts as their L1 shares the same language root, Latin,

with English. European and Hispanic participants also had an advantage in encoding









unknown words in the reading text due to positive transfer, whereas other participants'

word encoding was inhibited due to the differences between the language root of English

and their first language family (Ellis, 1994). For example, KyungOk whose first language

is Korean had difficult in guessing the meaning of "immutably" in the text as highlighted

below:

The United States has been compared to a man on a bicycle, who will collapse if he stops
pedaling and moving ahead-unlike other, older nations, which are what they are
immutably, i he1'hi'r standing still, going backward, or advancing. In its relentless
pursuit of ultimate and unreachable perfection, it has been described as a daring
experiment, one generation ahead of everybody else, the last word in modernity, the
future that works, the next century.... [2. reading text, Baffling Americans]

As KyungOk could not decode the word on her own, she asked to the group:

=>33 0: first "immutably" in the first line in 1,2,3 (counting) paragraph [line]
34 I: yeah it is something that doesn't change that stays the same
35 0: doesn't change?
36 I: yeah, we have the same word in French so, that is kind of easy for me.
[2. reading discussion]

Isabel explained the meaning of "immutably" (adv.) to group members by referring to the

same word in French "immuablement" (adv.), which is her native language. Isabel

applied a cognate strategy, that is, she looked for similarities between the English word

and a word in her native language (Birch, 2002; Ellis, 1994). Hence, KyungOk to was

able to overcome her disadvantage in encoding words that were dissimilar between her

first language and English, because Isabel was able to provide scaffolding.

The similarities between European and Hispanic's primary languages to English

also helped Hispanic and European participants guess the meaning of some concepts

shared in the Western languages and cultures. As language and culture cannot be

separated, the similarities between the languages can also be observed in their cultures

(Brown, 2000; Hymes, 1974; Lado, 1957; Sapir and Whorf, 1964). In that sense, sharing









the same language root also provides connection to some concepts, which are developed

in the Western culture. Learners with different cultural backgrounds may lack knowledge

of a word's social, political, or religious connotations (Birch, 2002). For instance, the

concept "pragmatism" which is developed by Jean Paul Sartre in France is cited in the

second reading text, referring to the crucial role of practicality in American life style and

culture. For the European participants understanding this concept was easier compared to

Asian participants, as the concept was created within Euro-American culture and

philosophy. Hence, European and Hispanic participants explained the meaning of

"pragmatism" to Asian participants through elaborating their explanations with examples,

Participants' English Morphology and Lexicon Proficiency Level Influence Decoding
Words

In addition to the effects of first language on the construction of word meanings in

the reading texts, participants' English (L2) morphology and lexicon proficiency level

also influenced the process of encoding words. While participants with lower language

proficiency of English morphology and lexicon asked about the meaning of unknown

vocabulary, participants with higher language proficiency explained the meaning to other

group members. In addition, participants with higher language proficiency in English

gave suggestions to group members about better word usage in their summaries during

the writing discussions. During the word encoding process, generally high-proficient

participants with knowledge on English morphology and lexicon provided a scaffolding

for students who lacked similar proficiencies.

For example, Masami had difficulty in understanding the word "engage" as a verb

form in the reading text given below:

death and life, students often walk away from the course i//h a better understanding of
lh/i'///l.l \'i'' \









Bluck often engages her students in candid discussions about death at the personal and
societal level. Close to September 11, for instance, they talked about war and terrorism.
From then on, that tone created a basis for frank discussions about many facets of death,
often controversial. [3. reading text]
In order to solve this problem, Masami asked it to the group:

=>114 M: what does it mean "engage"
115 O/V: where?
116 Y: engage?
117 M: in this sentences
118 P: 'motivate' like
119 M: 'motivate'?
120 P: like...
121 V: like 'to get involved.'
122 M: 'convince'?
123 Y: do you know the 'engagement'?
124 M: yeah. Of course
125 V: it is same thing
126 like you are in a class
127 and if you engage because you are very interested in the class
128 and you come every time and you participate.
129 M: aaaaa
130 Y: and 'engagement' is the noun form and this is the verb. [3. reading discussion]

Patricia and Vanessa tried to scaffold Masami through providing "motivate" (in line 118)

and "to get involved" (in line 121) as alternative lexicons to the unknown verb "engage."

As Masami repeated the suggested verbs with a questioning tone (line 122), it was clear

that she could not make the meaning of the alternative lexicons, which indicated she did

not have enough lexical and semantic information to understand the word and its

meaning (Birtch, 2002). Ellis and Beaton (1993) stated that nouns are easier to learn than

verbs; for that reason, I tried to explain the word by changing its morphologic form from

verb to noun, as "engagement" is more common than its verb form (line 123 and 130).

Through explanations from more proficient students not only other members but

also lower-level students scaffolded each other's learning. To explain a word, several

people in the group worked together to elaborate each other's explanations to help the









lower-level students. Consequently, these elaborations and explanations helped

participants to understand the reading texts better (Garcia-Ramirez, 2001).

Language as the Focus in Writing

During the writing discussions, participants gave more importance to linguistic

features rather than the content of the text in their summaries. Due to participants'

overemphasis on linguistic features, their perception of writing was subjected to

grammatical and syntactic structures.

Participants' perception of summary as a 'good grammar and format' rather than

content might be due to the limitation of English language education they had either in

their country or at their language study in the USA. For instance, Patricia's knowledge

about writing a summary in English that she learned in her country was limited to the

format including paragraphs with eight or six sentences:

=>500 P: well maybe what I've written in the course that before come here
501 the course that I took, in English,
502 we had to write a little.
503 Eight-sentence paragraph with eight sentences or six sentences.
504 Maybe that practice. [1. writing discussion interview]

Patricia's English language education on writing was limited to covering only the format

of writing summaries rather than the content of it. According to Patricia, good writing

was "good format." Additionally, participants' language learning experiences on writing

at the ELI in the USA was also limited to format:

=>468 G: experiences? No I was always try to avoid writing so I don't have many of
them.
469 And maybe the classed we here in at ELI
470 it just helped me to see what is the structure in English writing.
471 So, it helped me to make it like look more like supposed to look.
472 I supposed to use indent like double space,
473 stuff like that, just like that and
474 I supposed to go from like main idea to like more advance, like more specific thing.
[1. writing discussion interview]










For Gosia, her ELI experiences helped her to learn the linear organization of ideas in

English, such as presenting the main idea first and then elaborating it with details and

examples, and some formatting features, such as indentation and double spacing. As a

result, not only was the participants' perception of language learning based on their

previous education used to correct grammatical features, revealing that the purpose of the

ELI was to teach the linguistic features of language rather than teaching language through

content-focused reading and writing. Based on these comments, participants' knowledge

about writing is mostly declarative knowledge, which enables identification of

characteristics rather than procedural knowledge, enabling production (Hillocks, 1995).

Therefore, grammar and formatting features became more important than what was

presented in the content, especially in writing.

Due to the style of the participants' English language education in their countries

and at ELI, they considered writing as limited to strict grammar and formatting rules and,

thus, made a direct correlation between their incompetent grammar skills and writing.

This resulted in the participants' very negative attitude towards writing, especially among

those with low grammar proficiency. Motivation plays an important role in the learning

of a language (Ellis, 1994); hence a student with a negative attitude, might not be

expected to enjoy the learning process or to have higher language proficiency (Ellis,

1994).

According to Ellis (1994), social factors help to shape learners' attitudes which, in

turn, influence learning outcomes. For instance, being in a group and getting feedback

about her summary from other group members, helped Gosia to have positive attitude

towards writing. As Gosia was used to submitting her work to a teacher and getting back









her work with full of grammatical corrections, she was very discouraged and considered

her work to be "bad" despite all the effort and time she spent. Gosia felt as if she was

constantly being reminded that her English language skills were poor. As Gosia

considered her written work an evaluation form, the results she received from it were not

very promising. Therefore, Gosia had very negative attitude towards writing at the

beginning of this study. She stated that she was not good at writing even in her native

language, and unambiguously explained that not only did she "not like her writing" (line

463), she "hates" writing (line 455). Through Gosia's statements the two different things

"her hate of her grammar" and "her hate of writing" became as one thing. As she was not

good at grammar, considering it as her "problem" (line 459, 463); therefore, it is not

surprising when she says that her "writing is always short" (line 471) or when she equates

good writing with "good grammar" (line 459, line 463). Due to her negative attitude

towards writing, she thought that learning anything about writing was not necessary for

her; she did "not need it" (line 462). The main reason for her negative attitude towards

writing was that she considered writing as only "grammar" and a task that was done

individually but not collaboratively. Therefore, through this study which required

participants to interact and scaffold each other, not only Gosia but also other participants

realized "writing a summary became easy" (line 345) as the reading and writing

discussions progressed. Participants' comments show a change in their attitudes towards

writing. They suggest that writing is enjoyable process when it becomes not individual

but group work; thus, the writing process does not require being silent and writing.

Instead it requires talking, discussing, learning from each other and reflecting on the

content in a paper and appropriate grammar.









Language proficiency, in addition to affecting attitudes towards writing, affected

the comprehension of the reading text, and the composition of the summary composition.

When participants understood the reading text, they summarized rather than depending

on the structures in the reading texts. For instance, Isabel had higher-level language

proficiency than Masami in the group (Isabel was also assessed as the most improved

student in terms of grammar among all ELI students by the administration of ELI at the

end of the semester). Isabel not only understood the reading text better, but she also had

better grammatical knowledge to express the content in her own words. When Isabel and

Masami were in the same group during the second reading discussion about American

culture, the text was considered as "confusing" and "difficult to understand" by the

participants, because it was a short section from a book without a title or context cues.

Therefore, the ideas presented in the text were not clear for the participants. Even though

Isabel said the text was confusing as others did, her summary was found as a well-written

one and as the most comprehensible one in terms of clarity of ideas by the group

members, which might be attributed to her high level English language proficiency level:

=>365 G: I like the Isabel's summary because it was short and it was like very clear for
me
366 so, I could understand what she meant.
367 Y: she paraphrased a lot
368 G: yeah she paraphrased. This is what
369 it was not the sentences
370 we are not taken from the text.
371 It was just paraphrased
372 so it make very easy
373 we didn't have to know
374 first read after think change the normal language.
375 It was like it already in a normal language like everyday language
[2. writing discussion]









Table 4-2. Isabel's summary about American culture
The text, written by Luigi Barzini is about US culture and the perception foreigners
have of it. Americans are always going forwards, without taking any break, and it makes
them being ahead of the other nations. The source of their energy to archive goals was at
first their religiousness, which accustomed them to try everything to solve their problems.
Americans also have two main characteristics that makes them different from the other
cultures: the American dream, that makes them try to reach perfection, and pragmatism,
that helps them to get efficiently the solution to a problem. Foreigners, especially
Europeans, are very surprised by Americans' eagerness to get results, sometimes without
taking time to think. However, that is what makes the US so advanced.

This text was for me difficult to understand because it is taken out of a book, and
therefore the reader can't follow the author's ideas in detail. Thus, I can't say if I am pro
or con his opinion. However, the topic is interesting, and makes us think about our
experience in the USA. [March 29, 2005]

Unlike Isabel who represented the content with her own words, Masami replaced

words with their synonyms and used similar syntactic structures showing a high-

dependency on the reading text, which might both be due to her lower level English

language proficiency and her previous education experience in favor of direct translation

(Kern, 2003; Thompson, 1987). In Masami's summary, as shown in Table 4-3, the

underlined words and phrases are taken directly from the reading texts. However, in the

second part of her summary Masami explains her opinion about the topic, which has also

discussed during the discussion session, she less depends on the text.

Table 4-3. Masami's summary about American culture
An article we read in our first discussion is about American identity. It is written by
Luigi Brazini. The author described America as a man on a bicycle always pedaling and
moving ahead. Because America chase the ultimate and the unreachable perfection of
their goal relentlessly. It is one of the reason why America successes as most developed
country. Second reason is because of their work ethic and greed. It is compulsion for
American like all-pervading religiousness, sense of duty, the submission to God-given
code of behavior, the acceptance of a God-given task to achievement and of all the
necessary sacrifices. As an American characteristic, the author mentions about
Pragmatism which is the belief that all problems can be solved and the impulse to solve
all of them as soon as possible. Foreigners are surprised about Americans impatience.
Americans are always in a great hurry. It can be impetuosity, ardor, and eagerness to









Table 4-3. Continued
apply incomplete formulas and achieve rapid results. Americans are more hurry than
industrialized countries people such as Germans or Japanese. For American the main
purpose of their life is resolution of problems.
After I read this article I felt that I don't think Americans are always in a hurry and
impetuosity. They are rather than patient for me, especially for Japanese. For example,
they can wait in the restaurants and at the bus stop for long time. And at the Cafe shops,
convenience stores and cell phone shops, they don't change their selling goods so often.
This is best way to survive in Japanese society. Because Japanese really like new things.
In Japan almost every day they put new products in their shops to attract customers. After
1 or 2 weeks, the goods suddenly disappear. It is much faster than American does.
In this way I feel American doesn't chase ultimate relentlessly.[March 29, 2005]

Like Masami, in her summary about American culture KyungOk ""wrote like full

sentences from the article" without citation or quotation marks whereas "she (Isabel)

change it" and "people didn't read this article they also can understand more clearly and

order [through Isabel's summary]" (WD2, line 379, 381-382). Unlike Isabel who focused

on representing the content of the reading text, KyungOk gave importance to linguistic

features in her summary: KyungOk summarized the text through using synonym words as

summary.

=>176 0: Whenever I write summary I just try to change the word from the article
177 like use another word
178 synonym kind of synonym
179 but after reading Isabel's summary I thought she really wrote in her own word
180 not just change it word or synonym.
181 Maybe when later
182 next time when I write summary I will try to like her the way.
183 So, it can be good way to change my writing style.
184 And I didn't know they are
185 like Gosia and other people didn't understand my writing summary.
186 Maybe later to make my writing clear clearer to others
187 I will try to write write yeah clear. [2. writing discussion interview]

Through this quotation, KyungOk explained how her perception of summarizing has

changed and she learned from Isabel how to write a summary, which also indicates that

participants were learning from each other through this study.









Different from the participants' previous experiences both in their country and in

the USA (especially at the ELI), in this study participants were given a chance to talk

about their summaries, read each others' summaries, give suggestions to each others, and

learn from each other. Through this present study, as participants shared their summaries

with each other rather than submitting only to their teachers they have realized the change

in their conception of "writing" and they tried to make improvements not only in terms of

representing ideas in a well-organized way but also in expressing their opinions. Hence,

their concept of a summary included not only linguistic and format focus, but also

content one.

As participants' earlier perception of writing in English was limited to grammar

and syntactic structures, during the group discussions, their talk overemphasized the

grammar points especially at the beginning of the study. The main difficulties

participants had in writing a summary in English were mainly due to the differences in

syntactic structures of their first language and English, and challenges in translating

culturally embedded concepts and idioms from first language to English.

Differences in Syntactic Structures of First Language and English

As Gass and Lakshmanan (1991) state, 'the learner initially searches for

correspondences or matches in form between the native and the second language'

(p.272). Lower level English language proficient participants whose native language and

English were similar more tend to translate the sentence structures directly from L1

(Odlin, 1990). Differences in syntactic structures of first language and English mostly

appeared to be in phrase and sentence structures. For example, Gosia translated a word

"discuss" directly from her native language Polish, but with an inappropriate preposition,

"about." In Gosia's summary about American culture, she wrote: