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Effects of Two Synchronous Discussion Modes on Japanese EFL Learners : A Pilot Study

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Abstract

This pilot study addresses computer-mediated communication (CMC) in the Japanese EFL context regarding the use of face-to-face and synchronous computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) to enhance subsequent asynchronous CSCL. It investigates the strength of the connection between CMC and pragmatic instruction by measuring the effects of online chat and traditional face-to-face discussion on the acquisition of disagreement strategies in English. Data were collected from courses taught at a college in Tokyo. The two modes of discussion were the independent variables, and the dependent variables were participation, writing proficiency, group writing on BBS, and pre- and post-test essay writing. This study seeks to determine if there are statistically significant differences in those dependent valuables between the FTF and CMC groups. This pilot study examines the effects of synchronous CMC on learners' writing achievement and explores issues and methods in preparation for the main study. This study found that the English produced in written chat or face-to-face discussions also mediated those discussions, as each successive utterance set the terms for the ensuing communicative activity. Collaborative writing produced subsequent to discussions were more than mere written texts; they were the culmination of negotiated group activity, a socially meaningful interaction that promoted solidarity.

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