Edited by M. Rafael Salaberry, Kate White and Alfred Rue Burch
[Study Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education 4:1] 2019
► pp. 19–44
The dialects of control and connection in the study abroad homestay
As in every conversation, negotiation for control and connection is at the heart of communication in the studyabroad homestay. Finding a comfortable footing on the control-and-connection continua (i.e., closeness versus distance, andhierarchy versus equality) is both a product and a process of language learning in the homestay. Drawing on interviews of allparties and recordings of homestay interactions, we present the dialectical interplay of control and connection through analysisof conversational narratives recounted at Chinese homestay dinner tables. We recruit Wertsch's(1998) notion of mediated action to show how stories, as cultural tools, were employed by the hosts and students toconstruct moral injunctions and to cultivate closeness through mutual caring (guānxīn), affective gratification(qièyì), and attentiveness (tiēxīn). Findings of the study challenge assumptions abouthomestay communication as a power struggle only and underscore the importance of teaching students to appreciate the value ofinterpersonal exchange in homestay settings.