The effect of "chatting" on the oral production of Spanish present tense forms in the foreign language classroom
Current research shows a positive relationship between the use of written synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) and oral production (Isenberg 2010; Kern 1995; Payne & Whitney, 2002). No prior investigations specifically analyze the effect of SCMC on the conjugation of simple present tense verbal forms in narratives produced by learners of Spanish in online environments. This semester-long study addressed this issue by systematically analyzing the effect of written SCMC on the oral production of present-tense verb conjugations in two different oral tasks by students in two different intermediate level online Spanish courses. Written chat (WC), a type of synchronous group discussion, was used in the treatment group in order to examine the crossover effects of written SCMC on present tense forms in oral production tasks among intermediate Spanish students in online courses. Both online groups engaged in 30 minutes of concentrated interaction with the instructor and other students each week. The control group engaged in 30 minutes of oral interaction per week while the experimental group was exposed to 15 minutes of oral chat and 15 minutes of WC in the 30 minute session of interaction. Specifically, this study employed a pretest/posttest quasi-experimental design and tested the differential effects of a combination of oral and written SCMC online interaction and SCMC solely oral online interaction on the acquisition of Spanish present tense verb forms. The findings show a significant difference in oral gains among the experimental group.