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Using Facebook Data to Analyze Learner Interaction During Study Abroad

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Abstract

Although study abroad is viewed as an ideal environment for interaction in the target language, research in this area has relied mostly upon self-reported data, which pose challenges regarding recall bias and participant commitment. This article shows how Facebook data can be used to analyze naturally occurring learner interactions during study abroad. Drawing from a 10-month, Web-based ethnography of three learners, findings indicate an overall increase in Portuguese use during study abroad, as well as acquisition of computer-mediated communication–relevant terms in Portuguese. Comparisons to Language Contact Profile data show the advantages of using social media data to gain a detailed view of learner interactions while abroad. Implications for language instructors and the use of social media in the classroom setting are also discussed.

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