AbstractThe study abroad homestay enjoys a widespread reputation as a key context for language learning. However, a homestay advantage has been difficult to prove in large-scale quantitative studies. Few qualitative studies examine the long-term developmental processes that can take place in homestays at the micro-ethnographic level. This paper focuses on how one participant, John, gradually developed awareness of the role of compliments and ability to use them for various purposes. Drawing on Vygotskian sociocultural theory, this study analyzes qualitative changes in John’s use of compliments from informal interaction in two homestays across a year. Over time, John learned to use compliments for an array of purposes: expressing appreciation for food, maintaining his hosts’ positive face, developing cordial relationships, and defusing potential conflict. Development in John’s case is evident as he internalized this speech act that he once grappled with, and used it to mediate the behavior of the others when confronted with interactionally and emotionally challenging situations. This process led to John’s ability to participate appropriately as a guest at the Chinese homestay dinner table and to appreciate the subtleties of interpersonal communication that includes unstated expressions of affection.
Applied Linguistics Review – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 27, 2017