The Viability of Computer Mediated Communication in the Korean Secondary EFL Classroom

| March 31, 2003
The Viability of Computer Mediated Communication in the Korean Secondary EFL Classroom

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Heesook Cheon
Columbia University, N.Y

Bio Data
Ms. Heesook Cheon obtained her Master of Education (TEFL) at Monash University in Melbourne Australia. Ms. Cheon has worked for Korean secondary schools as an EFL teacher and now seeks to further her work in this field of classroom CMC through doctoral studies. Ms. Cheon is currently at Columbia University, N.Y.

Korean secondary EFL classrooms have suffered severely from limited opportunities for authentic language interaction, which Integrationists claim is necessary for language acquisition. The literature and previous research suggest that Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) can provide many of the alleged benefits ascribed to the Interaction Hypothesis. This study focuses on the viability of CMC in the Korean secondary EFL classroom and examines how CMC can provide Korean learners with increased opportunities to engage in meaningful negotiations in English.

Twenty pre-intermediate EFL students participated in eight rounds of CMC, which asked them to chat in pairs using a synchronous chat program MS Chat 3.0 and to solve a series of tasks that required cooperation with their assigned partner. They were also provided with a questionnaire post survey, which gathered perceived advantages and disadvantages of synchronous CMC using MS Chat 3.0. Jigsaw and information gap tasks were used to collect the data. All written transactions from 10 dyads were recorded and printed out.

The results show that Korean learners do engage in appropriate meaning negotiation for their foreign language development through task based synchronous CMC. The results also provide further confirmation for Pica et al.’s findings related to task types. Information gap tasks appeared as productive in stimulating negotiations of meaning as jigsaw tasks, and picture-drawing tasks offered a significantly higher occurrence of negotiations than other tasks. The findings demonstrate that task based synchronous CMC can provide Korean learners with more opportunities to engage in meaning negotiation in the target language, and illustrate that pictures can play a significant role in promoting negotiations. The findings also suggest that CMC using a chat program can be an effective method for facilitating the development of interactive competence, but do also indicate that the effectiveness of synchronous CMC on the development of grammatical competence is uncertain.

This research thus suggests that task based synchronous CMC is an effective way of constructing an interactive learning environment in which learners can communicate with each other in the target language and generate meaning negotiation, especially in the Korean EFL context.


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