CALICO Journal, Vol 20, No 2 (2003)

The Incidental Development of L2 Proficiency in NS-NNS Email Interactions

Glenn Stockwell, Michael Harrington
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014

Abstract


Recent research suggests that email can be a powerful motivator for authentic L2 interaction, but little is known about the efficacy of this medium in the development of target language proficiency. The present study addresses this issue by examining email exchanges between university learners of Japanese as a foreign language and native Japanese university students. Of interest is the effect of email interactions on the incidental development L2 syntax and vocabulary as reflected in both quantitative and qualitative measures. Messages sampled at regular intervals over a 5-week collection period indicated a reliable increase in syntactic development as reflected in several measures of structural mastery as well as in qualitative ratings supplied by native speaking raters. There was no evidence of quantitative development for vocabulary, but qualitative ratings did show a small improvement over the collection period. A sharp drop-off was noted between the first and the second samples across all measures, with learner performance then improving steadily till the end of the study. The findings are related to an interactionist account of L2 development that is embedded in the framework of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Issues in research methodology are also discussed.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v20i2.337-359

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