Some Interactional Functions of Text in a Text-and-Voice SCMC Chat Session for Language Learning

Some Interactional Functions of Text in a Text-and-Voice SCMC Chat Session for Language Learning

Hanh thi Nguyen (Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, HI, USA) and André Langevin (Abu Dhabi Vocational Education Training Institute, Mohamed Bin Zyed City, United Arab Emirates)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2016010101
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Abstract

This case study examines the functions of the text mode in a predominantly voice-only SCMC tutoring session. Using conversation analysis with attention paid to the sequential and holistic unfolding of both text and voice turns, the authors found that the bimodal text-and-voice mode was employed in repair, Initiation-Response-Feedback, assessment, and topical talk sequences. Within these sequences, text turns often reinforced voice turns to focus on language forms but also sometimes contributed to rapport-building and emotional emphasis in the voice turns. In addition to supporting voice turns, text turns also performed distinct actions that worked together with the actions in the voice turns such as initiating repair, presenting language examples as objects for consideration, achieving humor, and signaling discourse structure. The findings shed light on the interactional processes in bimodal SCMC for second language teaching and learning.
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Social Interaction In Bimodal Scmc

In bimodal SCMC involving both voice and text modes, it is important to recognize that while the ongoing process of oral turn construction is available to the recipient, the real-time composing process of text is not. Although many chat technologies alert the recipient as soon as text is being typed and these alerts have a foreshadow effect on the upcoming text (Gibson, 2014), only the final textual package is seen by the recipient when it is posted. Further, the oral mode has linear sequentiality, that is, “each utterance can be placed immediately after its intended referent” (Garcia & Jacob, 1999, p. 361). In contrast, text-based communication can have multidimensional sequentiality, since there are “multiple, concurrent ‘speaker’ selection options” at a time, and “participants can not control where their message is placed relative to its intended referent” (Garcia & Jacob, 1999, p. 361). These features become different affordances for participants in bimodal SCMC.

The main focus in bimodal SCMC research so far has been on how participants shift between voice and text to organize interaction.1 For example, students in peer-group discussions may shift from one mode to the other in a question–response sequence, but they do not generally shift modes in the same utterance (Scheffel-Dunnan, 2006). When shifting modes, participants may utilize certain strategies to maintain coherence, such as mentioning the addressee in their turn, quoting a part of the previous turn in their turn (Scheffel-Dunand, 2006), latching their oral turns to the end of their completed text turns, and using oral turns to repair misplaced text turns (Gibson, 2014). Further, text and voice have a dynamic relationship in the sequential unfolding of interaction in SCMC. In web-based seminar discussions, students may use text turns to respond in overlap to the tutor’s ongoing oral questions, which can trigger the tutor to produce additional oral turns as feedback to the students’ text responses (Gibson, 2014). These studies demonstrate that the on-going production of text and voice needs to be taken as a holistic and tandem process.

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