Communication Strategy Use: An Exploratory Case Study of an EFL Lesson in Second Life
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This paper reports the findings of an exploratory case study examining communication strategy use between three adult EFL learners and their teacher from diverse cultural backgrounds, whilst incorporating voice and text chat during meaning focused conversation tasks in Second Life. The analysis of the session transcript revealed that participants employed many of the communication strategies concomitant with face-to-face interactions for effective conversation management. The data also revealed that the participants' adapted their communication strategies to suit the Second Life platform; thus overcoming conversational ambiguities from the absence of paralinguistic signals. In addition, discourse analysis of the transcript offered further insight into power relations, politeness and risk taking and provided signs of socio-cultural learning and language development parallel to Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory. Finally, the paper concludes that the modalities provided by the Second Life platform offer learners an alternative for communication and showing presence during discussion. It also concludes that teacher facilitation and continued support is important to engage learners into the virtual environment to mediate the acclimatisation of the new surroundings and encourage them to take risks; thus taking control of their learning and autonomous practice. It evaluates the strengths of using Second Life for language teaching and learning and provides a direction for future research.