Oral language performance of English-speaking learners of Mandarin in web-based audio and video conferencing
Jinghong Tian, New York University, United States
New York University . Awarded
This cross-national study employed a mixed-method approach (a pre- and post-test experimental design, surveys, and interviews) to investigate second language learners' oral language performance in synchronous audio and video conferencing (AC & VC). It also examined learner attitudes toward their assigned conferencing tool. Thirty-six intermediate and advanced learners of Mandarin in America used Skype, a free web-based conferencing program, to practice their oral Chinese outside class with native speakers of Mandarin in China three times a week in twelve 30-minute sessions held over a four-week period.
It was found that the VC group performed better than the AC group. The difference was statistically significant between the two groups' overall oral language proficiency, which was a linear combination of seven outcome measures, F (6, 25) = 2.023, p < .1, partial eta squared = .327. A significant difference also existed between the two groups' production of words with pronunciation accuracy, F = 3.693, df =1, p < .1, partial eta squared = .110.
This study also brought to light interesting findings about the interlanguage produced by learners in a synchronous conferencing context. One of the strongest patterns emerging from the learners' speech during their final conferencing session was in their use of prepositional phases to describe locations. The VC group outperformed the AC group in producing Mandarin-like prepositional phrases of location. The patterns in the two groups' placement of their prepositional phrases suggested evidence of language transference from English to Mandarin.
In addition, participants displayed a favorable attitude towards the use of online conferencing for extracurricular language practice. The most commonly highlighted benefits included low cost, location independence, time efficiency, improved speaking and listening skills, and increased motivation and confidence. However, this study also highlights criticism regarding technological problems encountered by both groups (e.g. choppy voice). A discussion is provided on the pedagogical implications of the findings for second language acquisition. The dissertation ends by offering salient suggestions about the use of online conferencing to support second language learning beyond the classroom. Suggestions are also provided for future research on oral language production and learners' responses to pedagogical intervention.
Tian, J. Oral language performance of English-speaking learners of Mandarin in web-based audio and video conferencing. Ph.D. thesis, New York University.
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