Taking students to task: Task-based computer-mediated communication and negotiated interaction in the ESL classroom
AuthorSmith, David Bryan
KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
Education, Technology of.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation reports on an investigation of task-based, synchronous, computer-mediated communication (CMC) and its relationship to second language lexical acquisition among learners of English. Over the course of one university semester, twenty-four intermediate-low and intermediate level non-native speakers of English from the English Language Center at Michigan State University engaged in multiple communicative tasks in pairs using ChatNet, a browser-based chat program. One of the overarching objectives of this study was to evaluate the viability of implementing computer-mediated communicative language learning tasks as a tool for promoting language learning in the ESL classroom. This study also sought to explore how intermediate level international ESL students collaborate in reaching mutual understanding, and whether and how they negotiate meaning when communication problems arise while engaged in these CMC tasks. Another purpose of this study was to test existing frameworks used to describe student interaction and negotiation, as well as to explore the role of task type in learner-learner CMC. Finally, this study sought to determine whether task-based CMC could help us establish a more direct link between negotiated interaction and lexical acquisition. A detailed analysis of the chatscripts as well as the pre- and post-test measures provide strong evidence that learners use a wide variety of communication strategies in an effort to smoothly navigate computer-mediated conversations while engaged in language learning activities. Learners were also found to negotiate for meaning when problems in understanding arose in ways that are similar to those observed in the oral interaction literature. Task type was found to influence learner choices in dealing with unknown lexical items as well as the overall amount of negotiated interaction learners engaged in. Moreover, based on the pre- and post-tests, this study provides strong evidence for a more direct link between negotiated interaction and second language acquisition, specifically the acquisition of lexical items. Post-treatment questionnaire and interview data suggest that learners, while engaged in task-based CMC activities found the experience valid, useful, enjoyable, and virtually stress-free. Based on the findings above, this study concludes that task-based CMC is a viable and effective toot for promoting language development in the intermediate-level ESL classroom. This is especially true when learners are engaged in those tasks that have been shown to elicit high levels of negotiated interaction. Further, in view of the favorable ratings by students, task-based CMC seems to offer a positive affective environment, which compliments the communicative language learning experience.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching