Roed, J. (2003). Language learner behaviour in a virtual environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16, 155-172.
Goal of study: To create guidelines for students and teachers of less widely taught languages on how to create a virtual language department
- Can’t just transfer classroom practices to a virtual world. To be effective, must have a different structure and different set of contents.
- People’s online behavior can be different compared to real life. After learning the language from the game, can this knowledge be transferred to understanding in real life?
- People are less inhibited when communicating via computer than in face-to-face situation. “A shield from being on-stage”
- Teachers report online discussions to be more active than in-class discussions.
- Factors that affect students not speaking out in classroom: not feeling attractive & people ignoring your comments
1. There are several strategies we can use to learn language. The most anxiety-provoking/uncomfortable, yet rated as most effective are:
- start L2 conversation
- finding the courage to speak when afraid
- actively look for conversation
- find ways to use L2
- ask questions in L2
2. Self-awareness hinders language learning.
Duval and Wickland’s 2-component self-awareness model (1972):
Private self-awareness (awareness of individual motives and goals) – Desire to learn L2 so they can pass exams and communicate with native speakers
Public self-awareness (awareness of possibility of being assessed) – even though students can be happy with their level of proficiency, when starting to communicate, they are open to a medley of humiliations
3. Student anxiety reduced when question is e-mailed. And when they get a response, they can take as much time as they want to understand the answer correctly BEFORE THEY RESPOND.
A problem here might be that virtual language learning may not accurately reflect real life.
Look up: How much time do anxiety patients get to respond in video games to treat phobias?
4. Disinhibition – any behavior characterized by apparent reduction in concerns for self-presentation and judgment of others. The internet generates disinhibition due to low physical distance and low social presence
- There was a virtual “party at Buckingham Palace” to celebrate the 50th jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The grounds were actually a chat room in WebCT.
- Students were sitting in the same room, task was undemanding so all students could participate regardless of level of proficiency.
- Each student was given the identity of someone famous and the task was to interview each other and find out the identities of their fellow guests.
- Problem with webct = took time to load stuff on screen when network was loaded = frustration. The advantage of a non-networked video game is no server lag.
Lag = time it takes from pressing return key and until message shows up on chatter’s screen. Lag of 2-3 seconds is acceptable to most. Drastic irritation when it goes up to 8-9 seconds or more.
In real life, an 8-9s delay might mean that the person is thinking of an answer but you could still infer what’s going on from body language and context. but when u can’t see those things using a chatroom, you think you’re being ignored.
- no accents to distract
- no time pressure and no interruptions from teachers/classmates (very important issues for people with anxiety)
- no immediate reactions such as giggles or eyebrow raises
- students that would never display active participation in classroom are more likely to participate online (good for shy students)
- Advanced students will sometimes get bored with other students.
- Latecomers are seldom acknowledged.
- Anonymity can be bad for extroverts who want attention, but extroverts are better language learners anyway.
- Students can’t choose to communicate entirely by e-mail or in chat for the rest of their lives, although virtual environments can act as scaffolding of confidence.