Methods of Investigation

To learn how to participate in conversation, you will have to observe it, ba a part of it, think about it, and learn from your experiences.  Interaction is different than other types of things you learn in English, such as grammar or writing skills,  because there is a limit to how much a teacher can teach you in the classroom.  The question "How do people interact in English?" has no definite answer.  It varies from person to person, situation to situation. Therefore, you must learn from experience in your own environment to find what's most useful for you. This means forming your own questions and pursuing the answer yourself--the most successful language learners are careful observers.  This also means changing your habits in order to apply what you learn.  Only when you can do these things will you get the result that you want.

Investigation Procedure
These methods are similar to those used by anthropologists to investigate new cultures.  They are also useful for uncovering patterns of language use. Let's look at an example and take it through the five basic steps: 1.  Predict:  What do you believe you know about this type of speech behavior?  What do you expect
    expect to find?  Discuss your prediction with your classmates or teacher. 2.  Plan:  Where do you think you can observe this behavior or find this information?  You can use
    observation or your own experience, interviews of native speakers to find out what they would say or
    react, or you can use resources like books or the Internet. 3.  Collect Data:  Go out and get your information, from different sources if you can. 4.  Analyze:  What did you find out?  What do you think you learned?  Did you
    uncover any patterns?  In this step, be ready to report your insights to your classmates and teacher.
    Get their feedback to help you develop your own ideas. 5.  Reformulate:  This is especially important.  How is what you've learned useful for you?  How
    can you reformulate your own behavior in interaction to make it more appropriate?

Warning:  This process may not be as easy as these five steps make it seem.  Remember, however, that the answers are there if you learn how to look.  Some helpful advice I can give you is:

Additional Reading

Check out Discovering Characteristics of Another Culture for more advice on finding what you're looking for.

How can you make contact with native speakers?  Try joining a club.  A listing of all of the clubs and student organizations at UF can be found at Student Clubs and Organizations.

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