Interpersonal Relations in On-Line Second Language Discussions

Dr. Olga Sanchez-Castro
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The paper reports on a pilot study examining how the communication patterns of second language learners may change in the course of one academic semester using a synchronous text-based Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) environment.

Several studies have stressed the importance of interactive participation and the negotiation of meaning within the Second Language Acquisition process. Language learning does not occur in isolation, it is linked to emotional and social phenomena, and interpersonal relations enhance learning when learners are engaged in supportive social interaction. This social interaction emerges through language, and in order to use language, students create their own identity within the identifiable culture of the classroom.

This paper examines the dynamics of interpersonal interactions, including the use of humour for self-presentation, and social processes of a cohort of forty-three university students, with at intermediate level of competence in Spanish. The students participated in five synchronous CMC discussions in small groups. The paper also considers how CMC can provide an additional context for the creation of a learning community by providing opportunities to engage in meaningful social interaction in a non-threatening and supportive environment.

Keywords: Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), Second Language Acquisition (SLA), Interpersonal Dynamics
Stream: Language, Linguistics, Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Learning Languages On-Line

Dr. Olga Sanchez-Castro

Lecturer, School of Humanities
Department of Languages, Spanish, Flinders University


Lic. Social Anthropology and Sociology (University of Seville), Dip Ed (Adelaide University)and M Ed (Univeristy of South Australia).
Research interests are in second language acquisition, with a focus on the use of computers to enhance teaching and learning and the effect of affective variables in second language learning. Foreign language discourse analysis and translation theory and practice.

Ref: H06P0269