Profiles of Experience in Learner Talk
In contrast to the previous two chapters, which analyzed the themes and dimensions horizontally across the entire L2 Experience Interview Corpus, this chapter vertically analyzes and compares the psychosocial traits of each interview participant. We apply the methodological advantages offered by semantic content analysis and the L2 Experience Interview Corpus to study holistic patterns of individual differences among advanced L2 learners. In order to do this, we use Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker et al. 2007) to detect clusters of psychosocial traits that might suggest distinctive profiles among L2 learners. In other words, are there discernable clusters of psychosocial traits present in the interviews, and do these clusters of traits correspond to larger patterns that could be considered learner profiles? These questions are addressed using cluster analysis to identify clusters of learners who describe their L2 learning experience in similar ways. We then use an additional dataset—self-reported TOEFL scores of 96 of the interview participants—to examine the relationship of the newly identified profiles to differential outcomes on the TOEFL.
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