Chatting Online to Learn: Repair Sequences in L1 and L2 Interaction in CMC (Computer Mediated Communication)

O'Boyle, A. (Examiner)

Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination


The thesis investigates interactional phenomena as they arise in online chatting involving L1 and L2 speakers of English. Special attention is given to how the participants interact with each other to achieve mutual understanding through the sequential structures of language-in-use and the use of online interactional resources.

The data for the study is provided by 24 paired participants (i.e. 24 English L1 speakers from geographically remote areas and 24 Taiwanese university students as English L2 speakers) chatting for a 10-week period within a private group on Facebook. Their text-based talk-in-interaction data were retrieved and analysed using the techniques of Conversation Analysis. The salient findings are in relation to the sequential structures of repair sequences. Mutual understandings between L1 and L2 speakers were achieved mostly through repair sequences and the deployment of online interactional devices. There is evidence of incidental learning through CMC taking place not only among L2 speakers but also among L1 speakers who learned interactionally in terms of how to adapt themselves and shape their language-in-use to interact with L2 speakers. This raises new issues with regard to the conventional approach to L2 learning in SLA.

In examining the online interactional platform, and the data collection and analysis, this study is of importance in providing a better understanding of L1 and L2 speakers’ online talk-in-interaction without participants’ physical co-presence. The study also contributes to the development of and the literature on methodology and pedagogy. On the basis of the findings, it is suggested that future studies should continue research on the use of CA for SLA in CMC, with participants of various language proficiencies, and compare the similarities and differences between spoken, online-chat, and written data.
PeriodMay 2015
ExamineeYu Min Lin
Examination held atNewcastle University
Degree of RecognitionInternational