Second Language Acquisition Assignment
Negotiation of meaning between non-native speakers in text-based
Chat between Lampung University student and STBA Teknoktrat student
Ni Ketut Apriani (0543042086)
ENGLISH EDUCATION DEPARTEMENT
TEACHER TRAINING AND EDUCATION FACULTY
UNIVERSITY OF LAMPUNG
Text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) and videoconferencing are both synchronous
instruction and communication methods in Second Language Acquisition (SLA). The advantage of synchronous
instruction and interaction is that communication occurs in real time (Yukselturk & Top, 2006), and therefore
prepares learners to communicate in real-life settings. Web-based CMC programs make it possible for language
learners, who would otherwise not find it easy to meet face-to-face, to communicate synchronously through text chat, which is usually supported by web-based software.
Two-way simultaneous videoconferencing is also a tool available for language instruction, especially in
distance education. Videoconferencing allows transmission of full-motion video images and audio conversations between distant locations, and thus more closely resembles face-to-face communication. Both methods are currently used in language instruction at many universities worldwide.
1.1 Negotiated interaction in synchronous text chat
There is a growing body of research that investigates synchronous interaction in text-based chat. Research
results suggest that real-time CMC can increase learners’ noticing of their own linguistic mistakes (LAI & ZHAO, 2006; Shekary & Tahririan, 2006) and enhance learners’ focus on linguistic form (Pellettieri, 2000; Warschauer &Kern, 2000; Chapelle, 2001). Researchers have also attempted to investigate the communication
strategies that ZHAO Ying, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of English Education, Capital Normal University; research field: computer-assisted language learning.ANGELOVA Maria, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Teacher Education, College of Education and Human Services,Cleveland State University; research fields: teaching methods and strategies in the ESL classroom, applied linguistics, writing in a foreign language.
learners use in text-based interaction and have proved that learners are able to use a variety of strategies in
discourse modification (Smith, 2003b; Peterson, 2006; Lee, 2002) to convey meaning when non-understanding
Several studies are focused on learners’ negotiation of meaning in text-based CMC and face-to-face
communication. Research results suggest that face-to-face communicative interaction induces and promotes
negotiation of meaning (Varonis & Gass, 1985; Gass, 1998; Long, 1985; Pica, 1994; Toyoda & Harrison, 2002) and is facilitative to SLA. Bitchener’s (2004) longitudinal study further proves the positive relationship betweenthe negotiation of meaning and the learning of some aspects of the target language. Research shows that, similarto face-to-face interaction, text-based CMC has the potential of inducing negotiation of meaning when thecommunication is task based (Smith, 2003a) or when no specific communication tasks are given, since thedifficulties in understanding each other among NNS could trigger negotiation of meaning (Toyoda & Harrison,2002).
There are both similarities and differences in meaning negotiation between text-based CMC and face-to-face
communication (Smith, 2003a; Kötter, 2003; Darhower, 2002; LAI & ZHAO, 2006). Similar to face-to-face
communication, text-based CMC provides learners with opportunities to experience receiving input, feedback and producing output (Pelletieri, 2000; Lee, 2002). Learners use similar communication strategies in text-based CMC as in face-to-face communication (Smith, 2003a, 2003b; CHUN, 1994). In text-based CMC, learners use both transactional and interactional strategies (Peterson, 2006). Text-based CMC is also able to carry the social perspective of SLA by engaging learners to work collectively to improve intercultural competence and cultural awareness (O’Dowd, 2007; Zeiss & Isabelli-García, 2005; Ware, 2005) and achieve a performance that they typically cannot execute alone (Lee, 2002). Text-based CMC is different from face-to-face communication because of its reduced sensory nature (Smith, 2001), which tends to compel learners to be more explicit in indicating understanding and non-understanding (Smith, 2004). Researchers describe text-based CMC as resembling in many ways the written mode of communication (Smith, 2003a; Murray, 2000).
Although negotiation of meaning in text-based CMC environment is similar to face-to-face communication,
it is not necessarily the same. Smith (2003a) used the face-to-face negotiation model developed by Varonis and
Gass (1985) to observe text-based CMC, and reported differences in turn taking and negotiation routines. Varonis and Gass (1985) noted that non-native speaker (NNS) negotiation episodes are comprised of three obligatory phases: “trigger, indicator, response”, and one optional phase: “reaction to response”. Smith (2003a) suggested that negotiation of meaning in text-based CMC differs from the Varonis and Gass’s (1985) model in that there is a high occurrence of the “reaction to response” phase, which appears to be more dynamic in text-based CMC, where learners tend to carry on negotiation routines well past the “reaction to response” stage. The observed differences call for a new model of computer-mediated negotiation. Expanding the Varonis and Gass’s model, Smith (2003a) developed a new model of negation for text-based CMC, which contains two more phases, “confirmation and reconfirmation”, after the “reaction to response” phase..
2. Research questions
This study aims at answering the following research questions:
(1) Does NNS-NNS negotiation of meaning occur during synchronous text chat?
(2) What (if any) is the benefit of negotiation of meaning in NNS-NNS communication through text chat ?
3.1 Context of the study
This study was conducted with students from Lampung University and STBA Teknokrat. An elective
course nam.. The researcher give synchronous text-based chat to discuss culture-related issues using English as the common language for communication
On December 2010 the writer observe the participant, They are:
- Name : Ni Wayan Virgus Susanti
Age : 20 years old
Student of University of Lampung
- Name : Ni Luh Sri Swandari
Age : 22 Years old
Student of STBA Teknokrat
All participants were considered to be intermediate in English language proficiency.
Participants from Lampung University and STBA Teknokrat met every day for one text-based chatting because they are stay in the same bording house.
Topics for text-based chat consistent but the conversations were never the same the writer always give a diferent topic.
For the first part, students
took turns to introduce the pre-selected topics about their own culture. For example, the Lampung Univeristy students would introduce college life in Lampung University and the STBA Teknokrat students introduce college life in Teknokrat. This part was limited toless than 10 minutes for each side. The second part was free discussions about the topics introduced or any other topics students would like to discuss. Students were required to bring the conversation to a natural ending at theend of the hour.
Learners’ negotiation of meaning in text chat was analyzed using the simple model of record of conversation between the swo students., from the conversation the writer found that negotiation episodes are responses to
instances of non-understanding during NNS-NNS interaction. According to them, each negotiation episode
consists of three obligatory phases: trigger (T), indicator (I), reaction (R), and one optional phase: reaction to
response (RR). Smith (2003a) broke down the four component parts of the negotiation routines in the Varonis andGass’s (1985) model into subcategories in order to answer the question of whether learners negotiate for meaning when problems in communication arise in task-based CMC and to characterize the nature of such negotiation.
In Smith’s (2003a) expanded model, the trigger (T) is divided into four subcategories: lexical, syntactic,
discourse and content, to further classify problems that initiate a negotiation routine. Each indicator (I) is
classified as global, local and inferential. An utterance in reply to an indicator of non-understanding is reaction (R),
which is categorized as minimal, repeating the trigger with lexical modification, and rephrasing and elaborating in
Smith’s (2003a) model. The optional reaction to response (RR) phase may consist of an explicit statement of
understanding, which is classified as minimal, or a comment on the cause of the problem named metalinguistic
Smith (2003a) found that the reaction to response (RR) phase of computer-mediated negotiation routines
appear to be more dynamic than previously reported, and his data analysis showed a strong tendency for learners to carry on negotiation routines well past the reaction to response (RR) stage. Smith (2003a) identified two additional phases of CMC negotiation routine and referred to them as the confirmation (C) and reconfirmation (RC) phases.Smith’s model was used to analyze data from text chats only. This study compares NNS-NNS negotiation of meaning in synchronous text chat and videoconferencing. In order to analyze the data, the researchers adapted Smith’s expanded model of computer-mediated negotiation and the subcategories of negotiation routine stages to analyze both text-chat logs and videoconferencing transcripts. The conversations observed in both types of
communication tended to roughly follow Smith’s (2003a) model, except that phonological and paralinguistic or
nonlinguistic interaction routines were found very often in videoconferencing as it allowed for both vocal and
visual interactions between the participants. The researchers included phonological triggers as a subcategory when
analyzing the trigger types in the videoconferencing data. The following excerpt shows an example of a
negotiation routine caused by a phonological trigger. This episode differs from a text-chat negotiation routine in that the non-understanding was caused by a learner’s pronunciation error and heavy accent, both of which would not have been noticed in text chat.
(T) Lampung University student (L): Many young girls like soccer because of [waud ka:p].
(I) Teknokrat student (T): What?
(R) L : [waud ka:p]…err…[w_ :d ka:p].
(RR) T: Oh, world cup.
In this study, it is found that paralinguistic and nonlinguistic interaction routines exist in both text chat and
videoconferencing data. Typical examples of paralinguistic and nonlinguistic found in the text-chat data were the use of emoticons like smiles, italics, bold prints and capitals. In videoconferencing, learners tended to use visual aids as shown in Excerpt 2. The Lampung University student asked about sumo wrestling, instead of verbally describing the
term, the Teknokrat student demonstrated sumo wrestling through gestures and successfully conveyed the meaning.
(T) T: I introduce sumo wrestling … sumo wrestling is traditional Japanese sport.
(I) L: Pardon?
(R) T: Sumo wrestling … like … like … (J looked at the student sitting next to him, then both of them stood up and
began demonstrating sumo wrestling.)
(RR) L: Ahh … yeah … I’ve seen that on TV. It’s Japanese wrestling.
In addition to the three types of triggers described by Smith, interaction routines in the text chats included
those triggered by typing and spelling errors. As mispronunciation can lead to misspelling, making a distinction
between a pronunciation error and a typing error sometimes is not an easy task in the case of text chat
conversation (Toyoda & Harrison, 2002). In this study, the researchers did not try to differentiate the causes of
typing and spelling errors, but used typing/spelling errors as a subcategory whenever misspellings triggered
negotiation of meaning in text chat. Excerpt 3 was a typical case in the text chat data when negotiation of meaning
was triggered by typing/spelling errors.
(T) L: Can you tell me where is the mamous place for student in Teknokrat? [2 lines of text]
(I) T: What “mamous”? [3 lines of text]
(R) L: Sorry, I spell it wrong. It’s famous.
5.1 Research question 1: Does NNS-NNS negotiation of meaning occur during synchronous text chat
and video conferencing?
In order to answer the question whether NNS-NNS negotiation of meaning occurs during synchronous text
chat,. Apparently negotiation of meaning occurs in text chat.
Excerpt 4: Negotiation ending with indicator in text chat
T: Naruto is very good animation.
L: Sorry, but I don’t read Naruto (>_<).
T: Why don’t you read it?
L: I don’t read comic books much.
T: That’s all right.
L: I hear that a lot of Teknokrat students study Japanese, is that true?
T: Not really. For example, I don’t study Japanese.
(T) L: Do you know how many part it is?
(I) T: What do you mean, part? Do you mean how many Naruto comic books are on sale?
L: No I mean study about Japanese, most people like Japanese entertainment, that’s true.
According to Varonis and Gass’s (1985) and Smith’s (2003a) models, a complete negotiation routine consists
of at least a trigger, an indicator and a response. In this study, 39.53% of all signals of non-understanding in text
chat and 31.29% in videoconferencing were followed through by a complete negotiation routine. That is, the
indicator of non-understanding was noticed and responded to. Smith (2003a) suggested that in a CMC
environment, learners tend to bring the negotiation routine to some explicit closure and he found a high
occurrence of the reaction to the response phase. In this study, the text chat negotiation with four stages completed
reached 32.56%, which is much less compared to Smith’s (2003a) findings of 82%. A higher occurrence of
50.34% was found in the videoconferencing data. The researchers believe that the difference is related to the fact
that the design of the current study was not strictly task-based, where the focus usually is on lexical recognition
and retention. In this study, the open-ended discussions with a focus on cultural exchange did not seem to compel
learners to come to a highly explicit closure as in task-based activities. That is, non-understanding triggered by
lexical problems seems to induce a more complete negotiation sequence compared to those triggered by other
problems (i.e., content, pronunciation, etc.) as was the case in this study.
Unique to videoconferencing, negotiations triggered by pronunciation problems could usually reach the
reaction to response level or even beyond. Often learners would reply to an erroneously perceived utterance
before they realize that there is a problem and ask for clarification. Learners were found to modify, rephrase and
elaborate their speech as a reaction to response, when the pronunciation of an essential speech item was causing
trouble. This process turned out to be difficult as it in some way resembles information gap activities seeded with
new lexical items (Smith, 2003a), which require learners to modify the input constantly in order to achieve
understanding. Excerpt 5 below is an example of how a Japanese student used various strategies to describe thin
Excerpt 5: Negotiation reaching reaction
(T) T: When I compare Japanese teacup and Chinese teacup, I think Chinese teacup is very [θinŋ]. Why … I mean …
don’t you fear heat or Chinese king is brave enough to handle heat?
(I) L: Can you repeat the question?The last part?
(R) T: Chinese teacup is very [θinŋ].
(RR) L: [θinŋ]?
(R) T: Do you feel hot … heat … hot?
(RR) L: Heat?
(R) T: Or your skin is thick enough?
(Students at both sides laugh.)
(RR) L: Oh, thin. We got used to use that kind of teacup, it’s not a big problem.
Smith (2003a) suggested that in text chat, learners tend to carry on the negotiation of meaning to an explicit
closure and “perhaps even more so than during face-to-face interaction” (p. 47), because CMC removes or reduces
paralinguistic and nonlinguistic aspects of face-to-face conversation and as the support of these factors is stripped
away, the entire burden of communication is on written characters. The data do not support this assumption since
the researchers find more negotiation routines reaching the reaction to response stage in videoconferencing than in
text chat, and videoconferencing resembles face-to-face interaction in that paralinguistic and non-linguistic
aspects of conversation are similar to face-to-face conversation. Negative response to an indicator of
non-understanding in videoconferencing leads to further inquiry, which takes the form of reaction to response.
This is the reason for the higher occurrence of the forth stage of meaning negotiation.
. This proves that in both text chat, the negotiation of
meaning can be carried on beyond the three phases: trigger, indicator and response.
In text chat, triggers of culture-related content items (Excerpt 6) or special terms in certain content areas
appeared to provoke meaning negotiation through a complete negotiation routine and even to the levels of reaction
to response, confirmation and reconfirmation. Excerpt 6 is an example where the term EU (European Union)
triggered the negotiation of meaning.
Excerpt 6: Negotiation reaching reaction to confirmation in text chat
(T) T: I study about EU, going shopping, listening to music, cooking …
(I) L: What is EU?
(R) T: European Union.
(RR) L : Wow!
(C) T: Don’t you like it?
(C) L: Don’t you know?
(RC) T: I know a little, but I don’t know well.
The classification of the trigger stage falls into four types: lexical, typing/spelling, discourse and content. The
researchers found typing and spelling errors triggered negotiation of meaning in text chat the same way as
phonological errors and accent did in videoconferencing. Table 3 shows the breakdown of trigger types and the
other negotiation routines.
In text chat, the majority of triggers were lexical ones, accounting for almost half of all the triggers. Another
major trigger of non-understanding in text chat was content, which accounted for 41.87% of the total triggers.
Since the discussion topics were culture related, it seemed that unfamiliarity with the partner country’s culture was
an obstacle in communication for learners on both sites. Typing and spelling errors accounted for 2.33% of the
triggers, and did not seem to be a major problem causing negotiation.
The potential of text-based chat in promoting noticing of linguistic errors has been studied by a number of
researchers (Chapelle, 1998; Hegelheimer & Chapelle, 2000; Kitade, 2000; Pellettieri, 2000) and supported by
recent empirical studies (LAI & ZHAO, 2006; Shekary & Tahririan, 2006). The possible reasons are that text chat
conversations flow at a slower speed than face-to-face conversation, and thus give learners longer processing time.
The written nature of text chat allows for an easy access to previous messages. Excerpt 7 is an example from the
text chat logs, which shows that non-understanding triggered by a lexical item is easily noticed and promptly
Excerpt 7: Lexical trigger in text chat
(T) L: My dream is that I go to France, and have a little flat in the country side, and live peacefully.
(I) T: What means “a little flat”?
(R) L: A small house.
Compared to text chat, lexical triggers in videoconferencing seemed to be harder to notice and resulted in
less prompt responses. In Excerpt 8, C1 and C2 asked about the word “animation” but their question was not
effectively recognized by the Japanese student. Instead, J apparently took the clarification request on “animation”
as a request on the general meaning of her utterance and repeated the entire sentence after a 2 second pause.
Interestingly, the problematic word was omitted in her repetition. It seemed that the fast flow of conversation in
videoconferencing compelled learners to make quick judgments and respond promptly when non-understanding
occurred, even though they did not know what caused the problem. In Excerpt 8, not getting an answer to the
problematic lexical item, C1 signaled J to continue with the main discourse. Apparently in videoconferencing,
obtaining completely comprehensible input is of lower priority than maintaining a friendly discourse, which is
found to be true in face-to-face conversations (Ohta & Foster, 2005).
Excerpt 8: Lexical trigger in videoconferencing
(T) T: I’m talking about Japanese animation movie.
(I) L: Err? What movie?
T: Japanese animation movies began in 1950s, and err … only for children, but now for both adults and children.
(I) L: What movie? Pardon?
T: Japanese movies are only for children before, but now for both adults and children.
L: Oh, I see. Please continue.
In videoconferencing, the trigger causing most negotiation was content at 39.46%, which was close to the
percentage of content trigger in text chat. In videoconferencing, learners did not seem to carry on negotiation
routines triggered by content non-understanding as enthusiastically as they did in text chat. This is similar to what the researchers found earlier in negotiation routines triggered by lexical items.
rence of local indicators in videoconferencing as it allows for paralinguistic cues. In videoconferencing, paralinguistic and non-linguistic indicators consisted of 2.96% of all indicators. Learners used strategies like frowning, head shaking, delayed reply, or no reply to indicate non-understanding. When reply was delayed or not made, a few seconds of silence usually served as an indicator of non-understanding. In videoconferencing, besides the use of paralinguistic and non-linguistic indicators, learners tended to ask general questions like “What do you mean?” instead of identifying a specific word that caused the non-understanding. This presented a problem in the data analysis since questions of this type were classified as global indicators rather than local indicators. However, the researchers can not be sure whether the non-understanding was caused by just a specific word. Videoconferencing resembles face-to-face interaction and such causes of seemingly overlooking a lexical trigger are common.
At the response stage in text chat, rephrasing and elaboration were the most commonly used strategies to
minimize non-understanding, which confirms previous researches on CMC discourse (Smith, 2003a; Pellettieri,1999).. Smith (2003a) argues that test deduction strategies indicate a heightened degree of active involvement and is facilitative for SLA. If non-understanding still existed after the reaction to response phase, learners would start the negotiation routine all over again. This happened when new lexical items, especially culture-related vocabulary or special terms in certain content areas, were involved, and learners had trouble to explain the items in a simple and straightforward manner. The negotiation process in this case further explains what we have mentioned earlier that non-understanding triggered by lexical problems seems to induce a more complete and complex negotiation sequence.
The high occurrence of minimal response and minimal reaction to response could also
be related to trigger type. In videoconferencing, phonological errors and accents were the major triggers of
non-understanding. Learners tended to solve the problems by repeating the problematic item with adjustments
made to their pronunciation, which was a strategy of minimal response. If the adjustments were successful, the
following reaction to response phase would then be minimal as the non-understanding was totally cleared and
learners were ready to resume the line of discourse. If the learners failed to correct the pronunciation right away, which happened most of the time, the negotiation would very often move on to the minimal reaction to response phase with simple requests for further clarification
5.2 Research question 2: What (if any) is the benefit of negotiation of meaning in NNS-NNS
communication through text chat ?
Results of this research are in line with the findings of Yamada and Akahori (2007) who concluded that
videoconferencing provides a large amount of opportunities for meaning negotiation as participants go through
trial and error in making meanings understood. Compared to text chat, videoconferencing seems to be more
effective for communicative language learning. In this study, learners negotiated meaning in both text-based CMC
and videoconferencing. However, negotiation of meaning happened significantly more often in videoconferencing
than in text chat. This can be attributed, in part, to the fact that pronunciation errors and accents cause
non-understanding very often in videoconferencing, while they cannot present problems in text chat.
Studies suggest that videoconferencing has positive effects on SLA which result from the rich nature of the
medium (Kock, 2001) and the increased learners’ motivation which lead to continued participation in learning
(Yamada & Akahori, 2007; Smyth, 2005). However, from a pedagogical perspective, the researchers argue that
videoconferencing seems to put extra pressure on learners with pronunciation difficulties when both parties are
non-native speakers, especially when they do not share a common L1. It seems that mispronouncing and
mishearing challenge learners in videoconferencing, in addition to the difficulties with unknown words and
expressions. One of the reasons that these challenges stood out in this study could be attributed to the fact that the
participants were from two different countries with different native languages. This warns us that even though
videoconferencing allows for more visual and aural cues, it may as well impose more difficulties on the
interlocutors, as they struggle with their pronunciation during communication, and therefore make communication in English a frustrating experience. In addition, sometimes students could not see the image of the speaker on the screen as the camera was showing a PowerPoint presentation, and that made communication more difficult as the visual aid was taken away and interlocutors had to depend entirely on audio cues.
As the current study is not designed intentionally to facilitate vocabulary learning, learners negotiate
meaning over lexical items as a by-product of the cultural exchange activities. The results prove that the need to learn vocabulary is the strongest when it is learner-induced (Laufer & Hulstijn, 2000). In text chat, the analysis of triggers and indicators explains why misunderstandings occur, and how learners resolve those (Fernandez-Garcia & Martiner-Arbelaiz, 2002). Learners negotiated on lexical items more often and there were a higher percentageof lexical triggers in text chat than in videoconferencing. Correspondingly, local indicators happened more often in text chat because learners were compelled to be very specific in text chat communications. These results suggest that compared to videoconferencing, text chat seems to be more facilitative in promoting vocabulary learning, although further research is needed on the retention of the negotiated lexical items.
The high occurrence of non-understanding triggered by the content of discussion reminds us that learning a
language should not be separated from learning the culture related to the language. As English is becoming the
“world language”, it appears to be a new challenge to ELLs as they learn to use English to communicate with
people from different cultures, including other non-English-speaking cultures. In this sense, both text chat and
videoconferencing appear to be effective tools in cross-cultural communication.
. The results on text-based CMC support the assumption that text chat promotes negotiation of meaning and is facilitative to SLA. The researchers call for longitudinal research on
Negotiation of meaning, as it may impose difficulties on learners with pronunciation problems.
This study has limitations. Firstly, the tasks were geared towards cross-cultural understanding but were not
linguistically task-based (Pica, 1993). The results may not be directly applicable to language classroom settingswhere activities are usually task-based.
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