Polish National Science Center (Narodowe Centrum Nauki) has awarded a grant for the research project "How Peer Interaction Mediates Second and Third Language Acquisition" led by Dr Michał B. Paradowski from the Institute of Applied Linguistics.
A number of recent studies have shown that social contacts (friends, family, etc.) determine our behaviours more than previously thought. Research has revealed that the network of contacts has more impact on whether an individual is going to smoke, be overweight, or get in conflict with the law than individual variables such as e.g. mother’s education. The role of social networks has also been proven in linguistics. William Labov showed that the language of the members of a Harlem street gang had more in common with the slang of a competing gang from another district, than with the language of neighbours from the same block. Labov ascribed this to shared systems of values and norms of behaviour between the two mobs.
However, until now there has been no research that would rigorously analyse students’ interactions among one another and with others, and the influence of this communication on progress in second/foreign language acquisition. This is the aim which is going to be realised in the winning project. The analyses will employ the innovative methodology of social network analysis, borrowed from the interdisciplinary battery of tools used in complexity science. This will enable investigating the impact of peer interactions on language acquisition and academic success. The project will fill a key gap in second/foreign language acquisition research and lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms and role of social contacts in the learning process, particularly in the Study Abroad context.