Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Second Language Acquisition
Sue E. Otto
Grounded in both interactionist and collaborative learning theories, this study empirically investigates the effects of interactive second language (L2) practice on subsequent individual L2 Chinese composition writing. In L2 classrooms, the learning of writing is often treated as an individual act. However, researchers (Hamdaoui, 2006; Susser, 1994; Weissberg, 2006) have argued that writing should be socially situated, and collaborative learning of L2 writing may generate the cognitive skills needed for the development of L2 writing ability. Two forms of interactive discussion were investigated: online text chat communication and face-to-face (FTF) oral discussion.
Six third-year Chinese L2 learners participated in this study. The participants conducted five online-chat and five FTF pair discussion tasks. Upon completing each interactive task, students immediately wrote a 350-character composition independently on the topic that was addressed in the interactive session. Interviews were also conducted individually with the participants to elicit learner perception data.
The primary results indicated that both mediums had benefits for the development of L2 Chinese writing in both cognitive and social dimensions, including improving L2 composition writing fluency and heightened motivation for learning Chinese writing. The collaborative pattern and the transfer process, however, differed between the two mediums. The collaborative pattern in the online chats was relatively equal, whereas the collaborative pattern in the FTF conversations was relatively unequal. The transfer process from the online chats to post-chat composition writing was more of a parallel process, whereas a more selective transfer pattern was seen from the FTF sessions to the post-FTF composition writing. The FTF conversations also stimulated a deeper thinking process and activated higher-level cognitive skills. In summary, the findings in this study support the integration of interactive practice in the learning of L2 Chinese writing.
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