ELF vs. LaRa in the Communication of Dutch and German League of Legends Players

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This thesis investigates and compares the effectiveness of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and receptive multilingualism (“lingua receptive”/ “LaRa”) in online spoken conversations developed between Dutch and German players of the game “League of Legends”. As similar studies conducted in the past used quite artificial tasks, a need for a research project that uses an authentic, but cognitively demanding, task for assessing the effectiveness of these modes in the communication of speakers with different native tongues occurred. Consequently, authentic data from interactions of Dutch and German players who interacted using the two aforementioned modes while playing were qualitatively analyzed and compared. Expectations towards, and feedback about the L2, the task, the feelings experienced during L2 interactions, as well as the result and duration of each game were used as the main effectiveness indicators. Nationality of players was also taken into account for the analysis. It was found that L1-L2 interactions were more effective than ELF dialogues in this context, surpassing the expectations of players, who were disappointed by their limited ELF communication. Even though both national groups opted for LaRa, the Dutch seemed to be more positive about their communicative experience compared to German participants, who were mostly negative about communicating in English. As opposed to the excitement with which players embraced the LaRa mode, the ELF mode was treated with indifference. Foreign-accented speech was one of the main factors impeding comprehension in English, whereas code-switching difficulties associated with the use of LaRa were easily overcome by participants, indicating that the degree to which they hinder the success of an L1-L2 interaction is overestimated. Young gamers seemed to be willing, excited, and ready to try different communicative modes, a finding that invites us to reevaluate the omnipresence of English as a Lingua Franca in intercultural communication.
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