Synchronous online exchanges: a study of modification devices on non-native discourse


This paper reports the types of modification devices the NNSs of Intermediate level of proficiency employed during synchronous online exchanges. A total of 34 students participated in weekly online discussions using the “Virtual Classroom” provided by the Blackboard. The results show that request for help (63 times), clarification check (59 times) and self-correction (55 times) were the most used strategies for negotiation among the students. Data from this study suggest that these modification devices facilitate comprehension of input and output and enhance the negotiation for both meaning and form. The rapid synchronous exchanges among NNSs tend to encourage fluency rather than accuracy. Students in this study appeared to be interested in exchanging ideas rather than trying to correct linguistic mistakes. Despite the importance of promoting communication and fluency, which is the key for SLA, students should be advised of the need to write correctly to maintain a balance between function, content, and accuracy. The current study focused on the types of modification devices used by NNSs through synchronous online communication. A comparison of the negotiation strategies used via synchronous communication with those used via asynchronous discussions is need.

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