The growing reliance of U.S. institutions on distance learning programs has led to an ever-
Recently, Varchar and Setnum() (2008) have argued that one way of ameliorating the problems caused by this disjunction is to afford learners a structured “transition” environment, which allows use of CALL technology while interacting with a native speaker. This intriguing proposal suggests an additional alternative as well, albeit one that Varchar and Setnum() did not discuss: the adoption of CALL-
CALL programs create two kinds of experience for users that are relatively unlike normal communication
The pilot study described here represents an attempt to test the efficacy of the “bridge” approach to CALL→
Six native speakers of English (NSs) and twenty-
NNSs were students at the university’s Intensive Distance-
The trial sessions were videotaped using a standard digital movie camera linked to a server. Some NSs were provided with a foam-
One group of NSs (Group 1) were trained to engage in several specific behaviors to make interaction more similar to mincon conditions that NNSs commonly encounter in CALL programs; these behaviors were displayed infrequently but randomly (the researchers used cell-
(A) NS stops speaking for two seconds, without any obvious reason, then speaks next word unusually quickly before adopting more normal speech rate.
(B) NS suddenly collapses, and ceases interaction except for repeatedly asking the NNS if s/he would like to report this problem to Microsoft.
Another group (Group 2) were trained to engage in specific behaviors that emulated maxcon conditions, triggered by specific actions on the part of the NNSs:
(C) NS exactly repeats previous phrase after being prodded in upper-
right- hand corner of face with arrow- shaped pointing device held by NNS.
(D) NS skips forward four or five sentences when prodded in left kneecap by same device.
Obviously, D required the NNS to use memorized, rote speeches instead of adopting a more natural interactional style, but since this had the effect of increasing similarity to CALL environments, it was viewed as a positive effect.
NNSs were divided into two groups of eleven via random selection, with each group being assigned to one of the groups of NSs. Each NNS interacted with a NS during three ten-
The videotapes, as well as exit interviews, were analyzed qualitatively, with the subjects’ behavior during each minute of the ten-
— Active language use, with potential for facilitating learning.
— Active language use, but not task/related, or unlikely to facilitate learning.
— No active language use, or uninterpretable behavior pattern.2
While both the mincon and maxcon conditions produced roughly equal numbers of “L”-category behavior (mx 200 vs. mn 220), the maxcon condition produced far higher incidence of “H”-category behavior (mx 300 vs. mn 12). It would thus appear that the differential hypothesis is borne out by the study.
In addition, we noticed some interesting effects in the actual language produced by the NNS after the end of the third trial. In the mincon group, the expression “You okay now?” became quite common. In the maxcon group, however, several of the students appear to have actively incorporated utterances from the NSs into their own repertoire, e.g.:
Interviewer: Did you learn anything from these interactions. Student: They were very... very..... ow. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Ow. That okay?
The results strongly indicate that CALL-
Mandatus, Choriastos; Snorth, Clive, and Vanderschwiebel, Jedidiah. 2003. “Now is not the time on Sprockets when you control anything.” Upper Midwest CALL Proceedings, 18, pp. 43-50.
Varchar, Chakramurty, and Setnum(), Vista. 2008. “Bridging the CALL/response gap.” In Brothe and Sorvinteer (eds.) Classroom Discourse and the Lambda Function: Explorations in Montague Grammar and Learner-
2 For example, one student presented with behavior B (collapse), after prodding the NS a couple of times, proceeded to take the NS’s wallet. This may have been due to previous conditioning, however, as that student was in the MBA program.
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