This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this new communication method, new paths for the teaching and learning of languages have been opened. In this research, virtual discussions in the English language about polemical topics were carried out through the use of the AMANDA program. This program features artificial intelligence principles in the discussion coordination, diminishing the tutor’s workload in the task of coordinating the discussions. The goal of this research was to observe the contributions of the CMC tool for the learning of English by the participating students. In total, 83 upper-intermediate English level students took part. The analyses and final considerations concentrate on the evaluation of the program used as well as the positive and negative aspects observed during this research for the teaching/learning of the English language.
The extensive development of communication media in the last decade, most notably of computer-mediated communication (CMC), has led to the emergence of new alternatives in education in general and language teaching in particular. For Berge and Collins (1995), “the term computer-mediated communication (CMC) signifies the ways in which telecommunication technologies have merged with computers and computer networks to give us new tools to support teaching and learning.” Many language teachers took advantage of these technologies to complement their teaching methods. However, the true effectiveness of CMC in language teaching/learning should always be the subject of scrutiny, because the use of a computer or any other technological resource is not in itself able to improve the quality of language teaching. Each specific learning situation must be looked at in a critical light and described and evaluated in relation to specific social contexts. Nevertheless, in general terms, Internet-based CMC represents a powerful tool that facilitates communication between foreign-language learners and people throughout the world at any time. The new horizons that have opened up for learners offer them many opportunities as they allow easier and more frequent authentic communication in the target language with native speakers of that language.