Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Developing Social Networks and Language Learning: Japanese ESL Students in a Study Abroad Context

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Modern Languages

First Advisor

Esim Erdim

Second Advisor

Allison Burkette

Third Advisor

Tamara Warhol


The current study investigates the relationship between the English language proficiency of Japanese students in a short term study abroad (SA) context and the structure of their social networks. Their personal social networks were investigated through individual interviews. Analyzing their investment in English along with examining their construction of social networks, the purpose of this study is to investigate if there are any relationships between their type of social network and their English proficiency. The data was collected through individual interviews. Their oral English proficiency was evaluated by the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) developed by the Educational Testing Services (ETS). The study first showed that the students who had invested their cultural capital or had improved their cultural capital seemed to have had multi social networks, and their final score on the SPEAK test improved. Second, the students who stayed mostly within Japanese social networks had less improvement in their scores than those mentioned above. Third, all three students whose score had negative growth were in the group that scored higher than others at the beginning of the semester. There were two students whose social networks were close-knit among Japanese, yet their score showed the most improvement. Therefore, the result indicated that there probably was a relationship between English language proficiency of Japanese students in a short-term SA context and the structure of their social networks. The further research may be needed to capture such relationship.


Applied Linguistics and TESOL

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