Capstone/Dissertation Title

How and Where? Types and Timing of Backchannels of Japanese Speakers in English Conversation

Term

Spring 4-28-2015

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAESL

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Bonnie Swierzbin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Feride Erku

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Carol Flanagan

Abstract

This research investigated the backchannel usage of Japanese native speakers (JS) during English conversation with American native speakers (AS) for the purpose of enhancing communicative competence of the JS in English conversation. This study examined the types and timing of backchannels produced by the JS relative to AS’s utterances in conversation. It also examined AS’s impressions about a given conversation in terms of JS’s listenership. Key influences were my personal experiences in communication with the AS. Six adult JS and three adult AS were invited to converse with each other. The audio-and-video recorded conversations were transcribed and analyzed for types and occurrence points relative to a speaker’s utterance (AS), quantifying all the results. The results show that the JS produced frequent backchannels, head movements in particular, in between sentences or in the middle of the AS’s speech, applying the type of backchannels that encourages the speaker to continue their speech during a conversation.

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