Article published in:Study Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education
Vol. 6:1 (2021) ► pp. 59–90
Who do you hang out with?
How Chinese students’ social networks relate to their perceived oral proficiency gains during study abroad experiences
Social interactions that take place during study abroad in linguistically rich settings are important for oral proficiency development; however, few studies have explicitly examined the underlying network structure of students’ social experiences in study abroad contexts and its role in oral proficiency development. This mixed-methods research examined the relationship between self-reported social network structures and self-perceived English oral proficiency gains among 88 Chinese international students at a UK university. While the majority of participants’ networks consisted of Chinese-speaking peers, most of them managed to develop strong and frequent relations with English-speaking peers. Students reported gains in oral proficiency, especially in areas related to language use that require higher levels of proficiency. Diverse networks with significant and high-frequency English-speaking relationships were more likely to be associated with L2 oral proficiency gains, while dense networks with only frequent and strong in-group relationships could potentially limit L2 development.
Keywords: social network analysis, social relations, oral proficiency gains, Chinese international students
Published online: 12 March 2021
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