Date of Award

12-1-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Kristine M. Trammell

Abstract

The Growing Participator Approach (GPA) is a language-learning approach used among global professionals living cross-culturally. Developer Greg Thomson claims that through the GPA, learners grow as active participants in their new culture by learning language primarily in relationship. Because cultural participation is central to GPA, measuring social engagement is the most appropriate form of evaluation. This research seeks to answer the questions: (1) Does focused language learning using the GPA correspond with a high degree of social integration in the host community? (2) Does the use of scales from other academic fields help evaluate social engagement for language learners?

For this primary research multiple case study, the researcher selected four theoretical elements to measure language learners’ cross-cultural engagement: mattering, language contact, community connectedness, and belongingness. Ten single women respondents each completed a questionnaire and participated in an interview with the researcher. The responses then were ranked on a five-point scale for each element, providing a level of engagement. All respondents had intentional, meaningful relationships in their community, indicating that the GPA supported community engagement. The women who had more hours of language sessions using the GPA did not necessarily have stronger levels of engagement than those who had spent less time in language study. Other factors were identified as corresponding with a high degree of cross-cultural social engagement: a welcoming host community, a favorable view of the GPA, and intentionality in understanding the community despite obstacles.

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