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ERIC Number: ED566164
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 217
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3037-3966-8
Examining the Relationship between Interaction and Linguistic Outcomes: Is the Online Learning Environment a Viable Alternative to Traditional Classroom Instruction for Beginning Language Learners?
Flesvig Bruland, Nicole
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Florida State University
Many in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) agree that interaction is a critical component in the process of second language acquisition (Hatch 1978; Long, 1996; Pica 1994). According to Long (1996), second language (L2) learners have the best chance of successful L2 acquisition when placed in an environment in which conversational interaction occurs in the target language. Research has also shown that such interaction, generally face-to-face and in real-time, plays an important role in language pedagogy (Ellis, 2008; Freiermuth, 2002; Gass & Selinker, 2008; Gass, Abhul, & Mackey, 2012; Long, 1996; Yuan, 2003). In fact, Gass et al. (2012) assert that the focus of SLA researchers is no longer whether interaction facilitates L2 acquisition, but rather which aspects of the L2 benefit the most from interaction and which forms of interaction are the most beneficial for L2 learners (Gass et al., 2012, p. 6-7). As enrollment in online programs has increased nationwide during the past 10 years, many Florida post-secondary institutions have developed online course offerings, including those for beginning level foreign language courses. Although research suggests that learners benefit from both face-to-face and online real-time interaction, the online foreign language courses offered by Florida post-secondary public institutions are provided in an asynchronous online format, with no expectation of real-time interaction. Furthermore, there is no differentiation at the state or institutional levels between course expectations in traditional and online beginning level foreign language courses, something which implies that learners in both environments can expect to achieve similar results with respect to learning outcomes. Prompted by my own questions, and those of colleagues in the field, a study was undertaken to examine current instructional environments for beginning level language courses, in this case French 1120, in Florida public post-secondary institutions. A five-part study was conducted involving students and faculty at two Florida institutions. The main focus of the study was to examine any relationship which may exist between interaction and linguistic outcomes in the various face-to-face (F2F) and online environments available to language learners. A secondary purpose of the study was to examine whether student experiences and learning outcomes meet student expectations, how instructors teach within the various instructional environments, and whether affective factors play a role in choice of instructional environment. Although all instructors indicated that the communicative approach is a preferred teaching style, results revealed that preferred teaching style may not match actual strategies employed within the instructional environment since the F2F environments were found to be highly interactive, target language rich environments whereas L2 interaction was non-existent within the online environments. Results indicated that students enrolled in F2F and online beginning level language courses performed similarly on assessments of reading proficiency suggesting that real-time interaction is not as important as interaction with content/text and the transfer of L1 reading skills in the acquisition of L2 reading skills. Conversely, learners in the traditional, face-to-face environment achieved significantly higher levels of oral proficiency than those in the asynchronous online environment. Results showed a relationship between frequency and type of interaction within a particular instructional environment and subsequent oral proficiency. Student survey and assessment results suggest that, although the main priority of beginning language learners is to be able to speak the language, students enrolled in asynchronous online French 1120 do not feel that this environment is meeting their expectations with regard to overall instructional environment and linguistic outcomes. Implications for future study and pedagogy are discussed. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida