Conversational alignment (i.e., the automatic tendency of interactants to reuse each other's morphosyntactic structures and lexical choices in natural dialogue) is a well-researched phenomenon in native (Pickering & Ferreira, 2008) and to a smaller extent in second language (L2) speakers (Jackson, 2018) as confirmed by many highly controlled lab-based experimental studies investigating face-to-face oral interaction. Only a few studies have explored alignment in more naturally occurring L2 interactions (e.g., Dao, Trofimovich, & Kennedy, 2018), some of them extending the context to written computer-mediated communication (SCMC) (e.g., Michel & Smith, 2018).
The current study aimed to address this gap by taking a closer look at alignment in L2 conversations mediated by two different types of SCMC (videoconference vs. text chat). We explored lexical as well as structural alignment in three target languages (Chinese, French, and German) involving interactional partners of different status (L2 peer, L1 peer, and L1 tutor).
Results revealed that lexical and structural alignment are both present and observable in different SCMC contexts. From a methodological point of view, we discuss how different analyses suit the data generated by the affordances of the different SCMC contexts in the target languages and argue for a more dynamic and pervasive perspective on interaction.