An investigation of the effects of synchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) on interlanguage development in beginning learners of German: Accuracy, proficiency, and communication strategies
AuthorKost, Claudia R.
AdvisorWildner-Bassett, Mary E.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractResearch in the area of computer-mediated communication (CMC) has shown enormous potential for its use in the foreign language classroom. The observed benefits include affective factors as well as linguistic features (Beauvois, 1992, 1995; Kern, 1995; Pellettieri, 2000; Sotillo, 2000; Warschauer, 1995/96). However, so far only three studies (Abrams, 2003; Beauvois, 1998b; Payne & Whitney, 2002) directly examined the effects of CMC on the development of oral language skills in a foreign language. These studies reported higher scores for the synchronous CMC groups, thus suggesting that oral proficiency can be enhanced by synchronous online discussions. Neither of these studies, however, examined the effects of online discussions on the development of learners' overall language skills, based on their practice with CMC. Thus, the present study investigated the effects of synchronous CMC on the interlanguage development of beginning learners of German over the course of one semester, specifically with regards to accuracy, proficiency, and communication strategies. Employing a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design, two sections of German 102 participated in oral role plays and two sections engaged in synchronous online discussion after comparable preparation. Results showed no statistically significant differences in oral and written proficiency at the end of the semester due to treatment. However, students engaging in online discussions perceived them as beneficial for both their oral and written language skills; they also reported that they were able to notice their peers' vocabulary and grammar mistakes, which constitutes the first step of turning language input into intake. Other analyses indicated a general increase in language production and accuracy, especially for low- and medium-proficient learners. The fact that students perceived the online discussions as beneficial for their oral speech, and the fact that there was no significant difference between the post-treatment oral and written proficiency of the groups, corroborates the notion that online discussions support the development of the same processes that underlie oral speech. CMC discussions are thus shown to be a valuable addition to the foreign language classroom, in terms of second language acquisition and learners' interlanguage development.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquistion and Teaching