Exploring Synchronous Online Communication and its Effect on Non-Native Speakers of English
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It is estimated that there are 1.5 billion people worldwide who speak English, of whom only 375 million are native speakers (Statista 2016). Jenks (2012) notes that the use of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) is growing in popularity as it is used as a contact language in social, business and political contexts. It is therefore not surprising that in addition to the 1.5 billion who currently speak English worldwide that another billion are estimated to be in the process of learning it (Oxford Royale Academy 2014). As there appears to be a great demand to acquire English as a foreign language, recent studies have suggested synchronous online education as an alternative means of language learning (Huang 2013, Yen et al. 2013). The use of Discourse markers (DMs) is another area which has recently been studied as DMs have been noted as being pervasive in speaking and adding greatly to the discourse repertoire of a learner in terms of oral fluency (O’Keeffe et al. 2011). The research on the use of DMs by non-native speakers (NNSs) has found that they are rarely used in NNSs’ discourse when compared with native speakers (NSs) (Fung and Carter 2007, Moreno 2001).This dissertation seeks to build on the existing body of research, which has mainly focused on language learners’ attitudes towards online learning (Terhune 2015, Jauregi et al. 2015, Reinders and Wattana 2014), by investigating quantitatively the influence being in touch with NSs on Skype may have on NNSs’ performances on a speaking exam as well as the impact on their use of DMs. The results of this study have not shown any great influence or improvement to NNS discourse but suggest that further studies should be carried out to further investigate both synchronous online communication as an alternative means of language learning and the effect it may have on NNSs’ use of language.
KeywordsSynchronous Online Communication, Non-native speakers, English, Language, Discourse Markers
Language (ISO 639-3)eng
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