Assessed real-time language learning tasks online: How do learners prepare?

Joseph Hopkins


One of the affordances of asynchronous computer-mediated communication is that it allows users to reflect on both the content and the form of their messages before they send them. In contrast, synchronous CMC requires users to react spontaneously and to "think on their toes" and, therefore, can provide foreign language learners with the opportunity to engage in interactional exchanges they are likely to encounter in oral conversation. This paper will report on one aspect of a study conducted to gauge the effectiveness of assessed student-led language learning tasks carried out on a synchronous audio-graphic conferencing tool. In previous research on the use of synchronous conferencing for language learning, a tendency was noted for students not to do preparatory work prior to sessions. These studies, however, were based on optional non-assessed tutorials. In contrast, in this study participation in the online tasks was compulsory and performance was assessed. In post-task interviews, it was revealed that students spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the synchronous sessions. The strategies used by these learners will be discussed, along with the effect this had on the interaction.


Synchronous computer-mediated communication, distance language learning, online speaking tasks, learner preparation;

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