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Wednesday, August 12 • 4:35pm - 5:00pm
The Effect of Task Type on Learners' Interaction in an Online Chinese Class

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The rapid development of technologies has enabled language learners to interact with peers and instructors orally and visually via web conferencing tools at a distance. These new contexts for learning impact on learners’ language use and on the learning process more generally. The present study, which has a non-experimental research design, investigates learners’ interaction in an online beginners’ Chinese class implementing the use of a web conferencing tool and a task-based teaching (TBL) approach.

Previous research has shown that task type has a significant influence on learners’ interaction. However, much of the current literature is limited to the quantitative analysis of negotiation of meaning incidence in learners’ interaction. There is still little empirical research qualitatively investigating the effect of task type on learners’ meaning negotiation pattern in a synchronous computer-medicated communication (SCMC) context.

In the second semester, 2013, 14 beginning learners of Chinese participated in this study. Five fortnightly one-hour online sessions were conducted, which included two jigsaw tasks, two decision-making tasks and one information-gap task. Varonis and Gass’s (1985) model of modified interaction were employed to examine meaning negotiation between the interlocutors. Interviews, teacher observation journals, pre- and post-session survey were conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of learners’ thoughts about the tasks and learning experience. The findings indicate task type has an effect on learners’ meaning negotiation routines and has a positive impact on facilitating learners’ collaborative learning.


Sijia Guo

Lecturer, Macquarie University

Wednesday August 12, 2015 4:35pm - 5:00pm EDT
Barker 024 (McFadden) 12 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA