Enhancing Learners' Communication Skills through Synchronous Electronic Interaction and Task-Based Instruction


Online interactive exchange offers the learner many opportunities to use the target language to negotiate both meaning and form in a social context that is crucial for second language acquisition. This paper discusses a pilot study using synchronous electronic chats combined with task-based instruction (TBI) to enhance learners' communication skills. TBI focuses on the two-way exchange of information on real-life topics. This pilot study shows that computer-mediated communication using less structure-controlled but more open-ended exchange had a significant impact on the process of language learning. Students benefited from online task-based activities because they had to access different functional skills to construct and negotiate meaning collaboratively. However, foreign language educators need to be aware that the quick cyberspace interactions impeded students from producing correct and coherent discourse, especially during learner-learner interaction. One corrective technique is to make students reexamine and revise their exchanges with guided instruction.

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Foreign Language Annals



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