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Stephanie Hanson Minnesota English Language Program

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1 Stephanie Hanson Minnesota English Language Program University of Minnesota Smart Phones & Social Interaction: How is Connectivity Changing Practice Outside of Class?

2 Agenda Summary of research Activities for student reflection
Group discussion on issues

3 Constant connectivity has changed:
Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books. Constant connectivity has changed: How people communicate How often people communicate Quality of conversations Loss of conversational skills

4 HOW we communicate Fewer face-to-face conversations Fewer phone calls
More texts or instant messages “In corporations, among friends, and within academic departments, people readily admit that they would rather leave a voic or send an than talk face-to-face. Some… are forthright about avoiding the ‘real-time’ commitment of a phone call.” (p. 15)

5 How OFTEN we communicate
“I talk to teenagers who send and receive six to eight thousand texts a month [and] spend hours a day on Facebook” (p. 260) (over 200 texts per day) My students said s per day but over 100 texts (uncountable)

6 How OFTEN we communicate
“In this new regime, a train station (like an airport, a café, or a park) is no longer a communal space but a place of social collection: people come together but do not speak to each other. Each is tethered to a mobile device and to the people and places to which that device serves as a portal.” (page 155)

7 Quality of conversations
With text, “all matters… are crammed into a medium that quickly communicates a state but is not well suited for opening a dialogue about complexity of feeling.” (p. 268)

8 Quality of conversations
“Teenagers talk about what they are losing when they text: how someone stands, the tone of their voice, the expression on their face, ‘the things your eyes and ears tell you,’ as one eighteen-year-old puts it.” (p. 268) Visuals are an important cue for language learners

9 Losing conversational skills
“… in a call… things could get ‘out of control.’ A call has insufficient boundaries… When texting, she feels at a reassuring distance… ‘In texting, you get your main points off; you can really control when you want the conversation to start and end. You say, ‘Got to go, bye.’ You just do it… much better than the long drawn-out good-byes, when you have no real reason to leave, but you want to end the conversation.’ This last is what Audrey likes least – the end of conversations. A phone call, she explains, requires the skill to end a conversation …” (page ) 16-year-old girl Audrey

10 Losing conversational skills
“Deval …says that he might, not now, but sometime soon, ‘force himself’ to talk on the phone. ‘It might be a way to teach yourself to have a conversation… For later in life, I’ll need to learn how to have a conversation, learn how to find common ground so I can have something to talk about, rather than spending my life in awkward silence. I feel like phone conversations nowadays will help me in the long run because I’ll be able to have a conversation.’” (page 201) Deval, high school boy

11 Losing conversational skills
Survey of 14,000 college students from : Sharp drop in empathy skills since 2000 “since the year 2000, young people have reported a dramatic decline in interest in other people. Today’s college students are, for example, far less likely to say that it is valuable to try to put oneself in the place of others or to try to understand their feelings.” (P. 293)

12 Multitasking and loss of downtime
“I interview management consultants [who]… say they used to talk to each other as they waited to give presentations or took taxis to the airport; now they spend that time doing . Some tell me they are making better use of their ‘downtime,’ but they argue without conviction. The time that they once used to talk as they waited for appointments or drove to the airport was never downtime. It was the time when far-flung global teams solidified relationships and refined ideas.” (P )

13 Social interaction hypothesis
Social interaction and negotiation of meaning lead to language acquisition (Long, 1996) If students are interacting less, how is this affecting their language acquisition?

14 Activities for Student Reflection

15 Group Discussion How can we continue to help our students find opportunities for social interaction? What (new) forms might this social interaction take? If native speakers’ conversational skills are deteriorating, what standards should we use with our students?

16 Turkle’s suggestions Live WITH technology Revive manners
Reclaim our concentration 1. Live WITH technology and “make it work to our purposes” (p. 294) 2. “Talk to colleagues down the hall, no cell phones at dinner, on the playground, in the car, or in company.” (p. 296) 3. “our brains are rewired every time we use a phone to search or surf or multitask. As we try to reclaim our concentration, we are literally at war with ourselves. … remind ourselves that it is we who decide how to keep technology busy” P. 296


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