The Cross-linguistic Development of Address Form Use in Telecollaborative Language Learning: Two Case Studies

Julie A. Belz, Celeste Kinginger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

82 Scopus citations


In this paper we explore the influences of the telecollaborative learning environment on the development of L2 pragmatic competence in foreign language learning from a sociocultural perspective (Lantolf, 2000). Typically, telecollaboration involves the application of global computer networks in foreign language study (e.g., Warschauer, 1996) for the purposes of linguistic development and intercultural learning. In particular, we focus on the 'microgenesis' or development of the T/V distinction in pronouns of address as a test case representative of broader L2 pragmatic concerns. We present two detailed case studies of this phenomenon: one for French (tu vs. vous) and one for German (du vs. Sie). The rationale for this type of analysis emerges from Vygotsky's developmental approach to cognition (1978) where it is emphasized that development can only be understood by specifying its history. We argue that, in contrast to the traditional language classroom, the telecollaborative language class provides the learner with increased opportunities for social interaction with native-speaking peers and, thus, with a wider range of discourse options (Kramsch, 1985a) for the disambiguation of the numerous sociopragmatic meanings of the pronouns of address in French and German.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-214
Number of pages26
JournalCanadian Modern Language Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this