Negotiation for Meaning Routines in Audio SCMC Interactions: An Expanded Framework

Negotiation for Meaning Routines in Audio SCMC Interactions: An Expanded Framework

Chenxi (Cecilia) Li (The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK) and Tim Lewis (The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2018070103

Abstract

Negotiation for meaning, in response to instances of non-understanding, plays an important role in SLA. Meaning negotiation routines in face-to-face classroom interactions have been identified by Varonis and Gass. Smith expands the model to adapt it to text chat CMC environments. In the past decade, synchronous audio CMC has become commonly used for online language teaching, but its affordances are different from text chat CMC. Therefore, it is necessary to examine what meaning negotiation routines are in language learners' oral interactions in this new online learning environment. In this study, participants were invited to complete two information gap tasks in which target lexical items were embedded to elicit learners' negotiation for meaning and then they participated in a stimulated recall interview. Based on the analysis of students' oral interactions in synchronous audio CMC, the authors propose two new possible stages in negotiation for meaning routines and demonstrate how different modes of communication can affect language learning online.
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1. Introduction

1.1. Technology and Language Teaching

As Bax (2003, 2011) foresaw, CALL has become normalized as technology has been fully integrated into second language teaching, learning and research. The past two decades have witnessed the growth of the research field in Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) from its infancy to maturity, with a large number of studies exploring the relationships between different types of technology and second language acquisition (SLA) theories in a variety of linguistic, cultural and educational contexts (Plonsky & Ziegler, 2016; Sauro, 2011). As a result, the main research agenda in CALL has progressed from examining the effectiveness of CALL to studying how the ‘affordances’ of different types of technology can be best used for language learning online (Cunningham & Akiyama, 2018).

Among various approaches to CALL, Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), has been one of the most commonly used and widely researched approaches. In their recent review of SCMC (synchronous computer-mediated communication) research, Cunningham and Akiyama (2018) conclude that the field is undergoing reconceptualization and expansion with the advance of technology and the diversification of participants. The central argument in CMC research is that since communication is mediated by technology, the ‘affordances’ of the technology play an important role in how learners communicate and learn languages in the mediated environment (Yanguas, 2010; Hampel & Stickler, 2012). With the technological development of CMC from asynchronous to synchronous communication, from written text chat messages to audio- and video-conferencing environments, the modes of communication, namely, modality, have gained increasing attention in recent years (Guichon & MacLornan, 2008; Stockwell, 2010). Clearly, audio SCMC is different from text chat CMC in that it ‘affords’ spoken as well as written interactions. Video CMC differs from audio CMC because it enables participants to use visual cues. Therefore, how modalities afford language learning online has become an important question (e.g. Smith, 2003; Hampel & Hauck, 2006; Sauro, 2011, 2012). This study provides a partial insight into the topic by studying specifically how learners interact in audio CMC environments.

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