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Communicating emotions in L2 Chinese: Talk in the dorm during study abroad

Qian Wu
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Ryerson University, Jorgensen Hall 5th Floor, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada
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Published Online: 2018-09-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0016


Communication of emotion is at the heart of human interaction. For second language (L2) learners, the ability to communicate one’s emotion is crucial, especially in the context of study abroad when they are in frequent contact with native speakers. The aim of the case study is to investigate how an American sojourner Puppies and her Chinese roommate Kiki (both pseudonyms) participated in conversational narratives in the dormitory to construct emotions, and how the contextualized interaction facilitated Puppies’ development of a linguistic repertoire for the expression of emotion in Chinese. Informed by Vygotskian sociocultural theory, the study followed the genetic method in tracing the history of Puppies’ Chinese emotional repertoire across the semester, thereby elucidating the language developmental processes in the situated oral interaction. Audio-recorded everyday interaction in the dorm is triangulated by Puppies’ responses to the pre- and post-Mandarin Awareness Interview and interviews with Puppies and Kiki. Analysis revealed that the contextualized dorm talk provided abundant L2 resources for Puppies to develop a L2 emotional repertoire, especially fear-related emotion expressions. A discrepancy in the product of development as gleaned from the Mandarin Awareness Interview, and the process of development as seen in the naturally occurring dorm talk, suggests that Puppies’ use or non-use of local emotional expressions could be mediated by her partial understanding of the forms and the speech style and identity she wished to assume.

Keywords: Chinese as a second language; emotion; narrative; sociocultural theory


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-27

Published in Print: 2018-09-25

Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 337–359, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0016.

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