Learning and Socio-cultural Theory: Exploring Modern Vygotskian Perspectives International Workshop 2007


Chat can create a natural context for learner independence and second language acquisition. However, as a developing variety of interaction, Internet chat has unique linguistic and interactional features that are distinct from either oral or written communication. This study uses Socio-cultural theory, in particular, Activity theory, to examine the characteristics of Japanese – English intercultural Internet chat, the ways in which learners use this medium as an opportunity to communicate in their target language, and the strategies chat participants utilise. Naturalistic data was gathered from five Australian advanced learners of Japanese, and their five Japanese chat partners, in the form of chat logs, collected over the period of a month, and follow-up interviews, both face-to-face, and over the internet. Participants identified turn management, code switching, error correction, issues of identity, computer literacy and symbolic interaction, among others, as areas of concern or interest. Conversation analysis was used to discover numerous linguistic and interactional features in the ten chat logs collected, in terms of turn taking, language features, and features linked to computer literacy and amount of experience in using chat. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for learners, teachers and researchers

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