Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment

Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment

Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil) and Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior (Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch004
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Abstract

This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students can make themselves “visible” in the virtual environment by describing three categories of footing in online educational forums, namely, social footing, teaching footing, and cognitive footing. The categories are explained in line with the definition of footing, originally presented by Goffman (1981) and extended to online environments by Paiva and Rodrigues-Junior (2004, 2007). The data stems from a 60-hour online reading and writing course for undergraduate students of English as a Foreign Language in Brazil and was selected having in mind the categories discussed throughout the chapter, with special emphasis on the role played by the teacher and her students during the course. The analysis has shown that footing can be clearly perceived as an interactive category for online environments by means of textual analysis, with special focus on the transitivity model developed by Halliday (2004) and the social, teaching, and cognitive presences investigated by Garrison (2006) and his colleagues.
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Introduction

Face-to-face interaction has been investigated for a long time, with a main emphasis on speech acts (Austin, 1962), talk-in-interaction (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974; Schegloff, Jefferson, & Sacks, 1977), and conversation (Grice, 1975). Another seminal work in this research field is Forms of Talk by Goffman (1981), especially his work on footing, which he defines as “participant’s alignment, or set, or stance, or posture, or projected self.” Goffman advocates that changes in footing are marked by shifts in tone, pitch, volume, rhythm, stress, tonal quality, and code switching. He says that “change in footing is very commonly language linked; if not that, then at least one can claim that the paralinguistic markers of language will figure” (Goffman, 1981, p. 128), in which gaze shift and facial expression play a part.

Online interaction, on the other hand, differs from face-to-face encounters because it lacks prosodic segments and the paralinguistic resources often found in talk-in-context. Although we defend that footing is a phenomenon which can also be studied in online interaction, we contend that new categories are needed in order to understand how it works in this new environment.

Online education has been using different kinds of online conferencing, such as messenger, e-mail, chat, and forum. What most interests this educational field is the kind of context where students and teachers interact in simultaneous modes (one to one, one to many, and many to many) at anytime, anywhere.

Paiva and Rodrigues-Junior (2004, 2007) have investigated which roles the footings of participants play while they are interacting with their peers in online academic forums. According to them, “within online interaction, interpretive resources usually present in a given context are transferred to utterances produced by interlocutors in virtual interaction” (Paiva & Rodrigues-Junior, 2004, p. 175, our translation). We can take, as an example, the use of capital letters when virtual interactants intend to emphasize specific feelings. Paiva and Rodrigues-Junior (2007, p. 156) offer an example of this transference, when one of the students of an online course writes “Subject: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!” The capital letters and the exclamation marks point to the emphasis the student gave to her problem, as if she were crying for help in any difficult situation.

Moreover, nearly all paralinguistic features easily identified in casual talk (due mostly to the cues immediate contexts provide) become linguistic and discursive elements often used by interlocutors when they are virtually communicating with their peers, like, for instance, emoticons, interjections, punctuation, capital letters, and so forth. Paiva and Rodrigues-Junior (2007) have also given close attention to the generic structures of online forums and to which extent these generic features influence interlocutors’ alignments and their positioning in virtual interaction. One of the main findings Paiva and Rodrigues-Junior (2004, 2007) have presented is the fact that online forums comprise a myriad of hybridized generic elements frequently perceived in the linguistic and discursive choices their users make.

On this basis, this pedagogical as well as methodological chapter deals with the way interlocutors in online academic forums build knowledge as they negotiate meanings while exchanging information with each other. We posit that this meaning negotiation becomes easier to grasp if interlocutors make their footings visible and explicit to their peers, by utilizing linguistic and discursive elements that necessarily lead to this explicitness. We also intend to explore further—building on the work of Garrison (2006) and Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2001)—the interactive elements often held by interlocutors and the discursive resources they bring to interaction as a means of overcoming the absence of contextual features within this sort of online communication. The chapter, thus, seeks to be a step forward in the analysis of online academic forums and their important roles to knowledge construction, whose interconnected parts are split into five sections:

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Norbert Pachler
Preface
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Acknowledgment
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Chapter 1
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Maria Sánchez-Tornel
The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language... Sample PDF
Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context
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Chapter 2
Antônio Carlos Soares Martins, Junia de Carvalho Fidelis Braga
The discussions presented herein emerged from two empirical studies in progress:“Online Learning Communities in the Realm of Complexity” and “The... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Social Presence in Learning Communities
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Chapter 3
CALL as Action  (pages 39-52)
Vilson J. Leffa
The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption... Sample PDF
CALL as Action
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Chapter 4
Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva, Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior
This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students... Sample PDF
Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment
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Chapter 5
Euline Cutrim Schmid
This chapter discusses the concept of integrated CALL by drawing upon data collected for a PhD research project that investigated the impact of... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards and the Normalization of CALL
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Chapter 6
Alexandra Okada
This chapter presents new methodologies designed to facilitate language acquisition in open learning communities via open educational resources and... Sample PDF
OpenLearn and Knowledge Maps for Language Learning
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Chapter 7
Ria Hanewald
This chapter provides an overview of the field of digital objects and repositories. It introduces the concepts of digital objects and repositories... Sample PDF
Learning Objects: Projects, Potentials, and Pitfalls
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Chapter 8
Patrica Lupion Torres, Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott, Andreia Ferreira Ramos
This chapter presents the experience of production and use of learning objects (LOs) for English-language learning at the Pontificia Universidade... Sample PDF
English-Language Teaching with Learning Objects at PUCPR
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Chapter 9
Zhuo Li, Feng Liu, Jeff Boyer
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the present use of e-gaming in language acquisition along with its potential and challenges. We review... Sample PDF
Amusing Minds for Joyful Learning through E-Gaming
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Chapter 10
Jowati Juhary
This chapter analyses the challenges in adapting a non-language learning courseware (NLLC) for a military learning environment. The National Defense... Sample PDF
A Non-Language Learning Courseware and its Challenges
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Chapter 11
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The increasing importance of e-learning has been a boosting element for the emergence of Internet-based educational tools. As we move into the... Sample PDF
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Chapter 12
Aysegül Daloglu, Meltem Baturay, Soner Yildirim
This chapter outlines how the constructivist approach can be implemented in Web-based vocabulary teaching, characteristics of effective Web-based... Sample PDF
Designing a Constructivist Vocabulary Learning Material
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Chapter 13
Yasunori Nishina
This chapter suggests an effective method for lexical studies using Moodle within the framework of data-driven learning based on parallel... Sample PDF
A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle
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Chapter 14
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Like the advent of the telescope, computers today can provide ways of looking into language patterns that cannot be seen with the naked eye. From... Sample PDF
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Chapter 15
Jing Wang
This chapter introduces a series of studies carried out with intermediate learners of Chinese regarding the reading of authentic e-materials with... Sample PDF
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Chapter 16
Margaret Murphy, Cristina Poyatos Matas
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Chapter 17
Neny Isharyanti
Studies in computer-mediated communication (CMC) have shown that it has the potential to provide opportunities for ESL learners to actively... Sample PDF
Interactional Modifications in Internet Chatting
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Chapter 18
Sedat Akayoglu, Arif Altun
This chapter aims at describing the patterns of negotiation of meaning functions in text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication by using... Sample PDF
The Functions of Negotiation of Meaning in Text-Based CMC
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Chapter 19
Esrom Adriano Irala, Patrica Lupion Torres
This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this... Sample PDF
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Chapter 20
Christine Rosalia, Lorena Llosa
This chapter reports on an instrument that was developed to formatively assess the quality of feedback that second language students give to one... Sample PDF
Assessing the Quality of Online Peer Feedback in L2 Writing
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Chapter 21
Betty Rose Facer, M’hammed Abdous, Margaret M. Camarena
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The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students' Learning Outcomes
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Chapter 22
Mahieddine Djoudi
The use of the mobile devices in language learning has been developed at a very high speed in the last years. Thus, we are witnessing many research... Sample PDF
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Chapter 23
Huw Jarvis
This chapter reports on a quantitative study that examines how language students make use of an extensive range of computer-based materials (CBMs)... Sample PDF
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Chapter 24
Renata Chylinski, Ria Hanewald
This chapter reports on a study undertaken on the impact of pedagogical and technological innovations in language teaching and language learning... Sample PDF
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Chapter 25
Mar Gutiérrez-Colon Plana
Many language teachers, students, and institutions of virtual learning environments are well acquainted with the feelings of loneliness and... Sample PDF
Frustration in Virtual Learning Environments
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Chapter 26
Sarah Guth, Corrado Petrucco
This chapter describes how the social software tools that characterize Web 2.0, such as wikis and blogs, can be used as a valid substitute for more... Sample PDF
Social Software and Language Acquisition
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Chapter 27
Bryan Carter, Dayton Elseth
Within academia, distance learning as an approach to education has its share of skeptics. Regardless of how some feel about the methodology, it has... Sample PDF
The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning
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Chapter 28
Irene Mamakou
Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional... Sample PDF
Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education
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Chapter 29
Ma Camino Bueno Alastuey
The adaptation to the European Space of Higher Education and to the new demands of the labor market has produced a shift in university education... Sample PDF
WebCT Design and Users' Perceptions in English for Agriculture
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Chapter 30
Heli Simon, Päivö Laine, Ann Seppänen, Ana Barata, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
This chapter presents the tutoring methodology adopted in an e-learning language course for students in vocational training and higher education as... Sample PDF
The LAFEC Experience for Language Skills Acquisition
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Chapter 31
Christian Swertz, Rosa Schultz, Katharina Toifl
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Chapter 32
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This chapter provides a basis for thinking about the dynamics and boundaries of foreign language learning in virtual learning communities of the... Sample PDF
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Chapter 33
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About the Contributors