The effects of synchronous and asynchronous computer -mediated communication (CMC) on the development of oral proficiency among novice learners of Japanese
Previous research has reported various advantages of the use of CMC in second language acquisition. Since CMC has the attributes of interactive networked communications in written form, researchers claimed that CMC has the characteristics of both speaking and writing and that we need to investigate the transfer of language skills from CMC performance into oral performance. It has been claimed that synchronous CMC (chat) more effectively increases oral production than asynchronous CMC (bulletin boards) and face-to-face discussions. However, no studies to date have examined the effects of synchronous and asynchronous CMC on the development of oral proficiency among learners of Japanese. In addition, none of the previous research has closely examined if there are any other factors that potentially correlate to the development of oral proficiency among individual students. The present study has thus investigated the effects of synchronous and asynchronous CMC on the development of oral proficiency among learners of Japanese. Thirty-six novice learners of Japanese enrolled in the fourth semester Japanese at a large mid-western university were involved in the present study. The participants were divided into three groups (synchronous and asynchronous CMC groups, and a face-to-face group). They had weekly discussions over the course of a semester. The researcher then compared gain in scores between the pre-test and the post-test among the three groups. The findings of the subjective ratings showed a significant difference among the gains of the three groups, favoring the face-to-face group. Regarding factors potentially correlated to oral proficiency development, the present study found such factors as proficiency levels and attitudes toward discussions to be related to the development of oral proficiency. The researcher also found the synchronous CMC group showed positive attitudes toward discussions and that the asynchronous CMC group achieved a higher level of syntactic complexity than the other groups. Based on these findings, the researcher made recommendations regarding instructional applications of CMC for the development of oral proficiency.
Fukada, Purdue University.
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