Why does high centrality in a peer network not (always) translate into learning progress? Potential and paradoxes in the analysis of social networks of foreign language students

Michał B. Paradowski (presenting, full list of authors below)

Social networks often play a significant role in our achievements, including the process of learning a foreign language. Many modern theories recognize the importance of the student social network composition. There have even been attempts to reconstruct such networks and the social relationships that occur in them. However, to this date none of the studies has quantified the interactions in such a communication network in a way that measures its impact on the language progress of participants.

We will present the results of two analyzes of the impact of peer-to-peer dynamics and communication network on the effectiveness of foreign language learning, 1) in the group of students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange program in Germany (n= 39) and 2) among participants of the intensive summer course of Polish language and culture in Warsaw (n= 181). We will show, among others, how computational-anthropological analysis of social networks (SNA) sheds new light on the relationship between social relations and the acquisition of a foreign language, especially the acquisition of productive skills. The results of the analysis suggest that (at least in the context of immersion in a foreign language) the language outcomes can be explained to a greater extent by the configuration of the social network and the dynamics of peer interaction while learning rather than by individual variables. SNA offers a new, promising methodology for studying these phenomena.

Full list of authors:

Michał B. Paradowski*, Andrzej Jarynowski†, Jeremi Ochab‡, Chih-Chun Chen||, Karolina Czopek§, Magdalena Jelińska*, Agnieszka Cierpich¶

*Institute of Applied Linguistics of the University of Warsaw; †Institute of Interdisciplinary Research in Wrocław; ‡Department of Theory of Complex Systems of the Jagiellonian University ||Engineering Design Center, University of Cambridge; §Institute of English Studies of the University of Warsaw;¶Institute of Neophilology of the Jesuit University Ignatianum