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Electronic dictionary use in novice L2 learner interaction

, Temple University, United States

Temple University . Awarded


This microanalytic study focuses on the mutimodal word look-up practices of Japanese foreign language learners of English at the novice level using electronic dictionaries (e-dictionaries) in pair conversations. Not yet investigated with a Conversation Analysis (CA) approach, this analysis examines reoccurring interactional and collaborative repair practices (Schegloff, Jefferson, & Sacks, 1977; Schegloff, 2000) of the learners’ look-ups, and explicates from the sequential turn-taking procedures (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974), the underlying social organization of the e-dictionary look-up sequence. Recent research has found that not-yet-fluent learners are capable of relatively smooth turn-taking (Carroll, 2000, 2004), and they employ various embodied actions (Olsher, 2004) to complete their turns. Nonvocal resources such as gaze movement (Goodwin, 1981) and gestures were also investigated in order to better understand how learners collaboratively utilize vocal and nonvocal resources in hybrid actions, to co-construct the meaning of look-up words, and maintain intersubjectivity. While enrolled in a university intensive English program, thirteen native speakers of Japanese video-recorded thirty-minute conversations; and during these conversations, they completed look-up sequences as interactional achievements. The results indicated that EFL novice learners display sophisticated competencies when using e-dictionaries for communication. While collaboratively completing look-up sequences, they display multimodal competencies by noticing trouble with words, initiating look-ups, making candidate proposals of word translations, correcting themselves, mutually acknowledging their understanding, and maintaining intersubjectivity and sequential relevance. In terms of language learning, learners’ collaborative learning of words iv demonstrates instances of learning-as-interaction (Brouwer & Wagner, 2004; Firth & Wagner, 2007), making public the participants’ socially situated cognition. Indications of a change in the participants’ cognitive state can emerge in the look-up sequential organization. A lack of knowledge is displayed publically in before-look-up actions, encouraging collaboration in the look-up. Multiple proposals and acknowledgement sequences, often displayed in embodied expansions, provide multimodal indications of a possible change in cognitive state and possible gain in knowledge. Thus, the look-up sequence organization is proposed as an interactional organization for the learning of vocabulary. Finally, the understanding of sequential structures and practices that interactants use in looking up words can inform teachers concerning the efficacy of e-dictionary use in the classroom.


Barrow, J. Electronic dictionary use in novice L2 learner interaction. Ph.D. thesis, Temple University. Retrieved October 23, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

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