Early-stage french as a foreign language in Taiwan : a case study involving L2 oral proficiency, motivation and social presence in synchronous computer mediated communication (CMC)
This study, adopting a case study approach with a group of beginning-level FFL (French as a foreign language) learners, investigated the possibility that initial level foreign language learners may acquire oral skills through synchronous CMC, and the impacts of synchronous CMC learning on their motivation, as well as their social presence. The participants were 12 FFL beginners in a Taiwanese university. Divided into three groups, they were required to conduct three tasks in three different learning environments (video/audio, audio and f2f) during an academic semester (18 weeks). The semester constituted cycles of three-week practices on those tasks. The contents of the tasks were inter-connected. Before each oral task, all the participants had to conduct the same task in synchronous text chat. The data for this study was collected from the participants’ performance in three oral tests held at the initial, middle and final phases of the study, their online chat records, interview transcriptions, learning journal, questionnaires completed at the beginning and the end of the study, and the instructor’s observation journal. The results suggest that these three CMC learning modes bring only partial benefits in terms of learners’ oral proficiency development. It is factors generated by the three learning environments, rather than the environments themselves, that have the largest impact on the learners’ oral proficiency development, learning motivation and attitudes towards the target language. However, the differences in the environments are reflected in particular in the learners’ perception of social presence.