Exploring native and nonnative interactive discourse in text-based chat beyond classroom settings
This paper reports on a study that explored how nonnative speakers (NNSs) interacted with native speakers (NSs) in a chat room. Fifteen university students worked collaboratively with expert speakers to complete six task-based activities. The findings indicated that online communication fostered high levels of interaction using various types of negotiation strategies. Students benefited from being exposed to a wide range of functional discourse produced by the NSs. Further, expert scaffolding increased students’ awareness of linguistic forms that led to modified output including self-repairs. Students, however, experienced difficulties comprehending linguistic variations including regionalisms. Students also failed to perform certain tasks, such as direct and indirect speech acts. The results suggest that learners not only need to work toward maintaining a balance between fluency and accuracy, but also develop their intercultural communication skills in order to successfully engage in online exchanges with NSs. Expert speakers, on the other hand, need to be aware of not over intervening in the interaction. The study concludes that text-based chat involving NSs is a powerful mediating tool for the enrichment of language learning that goes beyond a traditional classroom setting.