ReCALL

Research Article

The use of videoconferencing to support multimodal interaction in an online language classroom

Regine Hampela1 and Ursula Sticklera2

a1 Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology, Walton Hall, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom (email: r.hampel@open.ac.uk)

a2 Department of Languages, Walton Hall, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom (email: u.stickler@open.ac.uk)

Abstract

The introduction of virtual learning environments has made new tools available that have the potential to support learner communication and interaction, thus aiding second language acquisition both from a psycholinguistic and a sociocultural point of view. This article focuses on the use of videoconferencing in the context of a larger exploratory study to find out how interaction was influenced by the affordances of the environment. Taking a mainly qualitative approach, the authors analysed the written and spoken interaction in recorded videoconferencing sessions, alongside examining some quantitative data to reveal participation patterns. Exploring language learning interaction in a synchronous online medium allows us to show how this is a process mediated by interaction with experts and peers as well as by the artefacts used (e.g., technology) and how learners use and combine multiple modes to make meaning. Our findings illustrate how an online videoconferencing environment with its multiple modalities can be used in language teaching, how teachers and learners adapt to the multimodal online environment and how new patterns of communication emerge in the process.

Keywords

  • computer-mediated communication;
  • online language learning and teaching;
  • online classroom discourse;
  • virtual learning environments;
  • videoconferencing