Email communication and Language Learning at University - An Australian case study
This paper discusses the use of email exchanges between non-native speakers (NNS) in the Italian program at the Australian National University (ANU). Approximately eighty students, spanning beginners’ to advanced level, participated in two iterations of a one-to-one email conversation in 2000. The underpinning rationale for the use of email was to promote interaction in the language. We describe the language and content of the messages constructed by students in terms of the following features:
- the impact of email conversation on participation and engagement of the learners;
- the effects of the spatial, temporal and psychological distance inherent in email communication;
- the hybrid nature of email discourse;
- the relationship between the formal and content aspects of email communication;
- the creativity in expression of the language produced by learners.
We also examine the ramifications the use of email communication can have for teaching and learning languages.