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Simulating Study Abroad: Evaluating Potential Benefits of Learner-Native Speaker Videoconferencing Conversations, Texas Tech University

22 Sep 2015

Lead Investigators

Dr. Marta Tecedor, Texas Tech University Dr. Jesse Gleason, Southern Connecticut State University


This intervention study examines the impact of videoconferencing conversations between second language (L2) learners and native speakers on the learners’ perception of Spanish native speakers and their cultures and on the development of their conversational skills.

To investigate the effect of videoconferencing conversations on learners’ perceptions, participants will complete: 1) two questionnaires, one at the beginning and one at the end of the semester, 2) four thirty-minute videoconferencing conversations with native speakers; 3) four short surveys total, one after each conversation; 4) four total reflection papers, one after each conversation; and 5) two interviews with the researcher, one at the middle and another at the end of the semester (only selected participants).

To examine the impact of native-learner videoconferencing conversations on participants’ conversational skills development, the four thirty-minute videoconferencing conversations between L2 learners and native speakers will be transcribed and analyzed using Conversation Analysis and systemic functional linguistic techniques. Goals will include an examination of (a) participants’ interactional abilities (i.e., turn-taking, repair, alignment moves, topic nomination, etc.) over the course of one semester as well as (b) interactional power structures, and knowledge building.

This project represents an attempt to study how telecollaborative computer-enhanced activities (a) play a role in language learning, (b) how they can be integrated into the foreign-language learning environment, and potentially (c) how students’ experiences using these technologies to engage with native speakers of the language impact their perceptions and ideologies about Spanish and the Spanish-speaking world.


To investigate the proposed questions, data will be collected from four sections of fourth-semester college Spanish classes (n≈ 80) and two sections of fifth-semester college Spanish classes (n≈40). Three sections, two sections from the fourth semester classes and one from the fifth semester classes, will compose the control group and the other three will be part the experimental group. The experimental groups will complete four thirty-minute videoconferencing conversations with native speakers. These conversations will take place outside of class time and will be included as a component of the students’ grade. The control groups will complete four individual voice-recording activities in the online course management system.

To investigate learners’ experiences using videoconferencing technologies, a combination of qualitative and quantitative data analysis will be used. The motivation behind this mixed-methods research design is to answer both confirmatory and exploratory questions within a single inquiry to gain a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon.

Research Questions

Research question 1 aims at exploring learners’ experiences using videoconferencing technology to engage with native speakers of Spanish. This question will be addressed using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative analytic procedures. Each participant will complete four written reflections and four surveys, one immediately after each conversation. Two interviews between the researchers and selected participants will also take place: one toward the beginning of the project and one toward the end. Interviews will gather information on learners’ experiences with the telecollaborative technology to engage with native speakers, language learning backgrounds, perceptions of the factors that contribute to success in L2 learning, motivations, and reasons for studying Spanish.

Research question 2 aims at describing the interactional resources deployed by learners of Spanish during videoconferencing conversations with native speakers and their development over the course of five conversations. Thus, this question will be answered using both qualitative and quantitative analytical procedures. In a first stage of the analysis, the analytical tools afforded by Conversation Analysis (CA) will allow us to closely analyze the data focusing on the use of turn-allocation techniques, patterns of repair initiation and completion, and procedures to express (dis)alignment (i.e., expression of one’s position). Additionally, systemic functional discourse analytic techniques will allow us to examine issues of interactional power structures and knowledge building between participants.

In the second stage of the analysis developmental patterns with regards to the use of these interactional and knowledge building resources will be identified. A mixed-methods analysis using triangulation of data points may uncover a categorization of resource use that, when examined chronologically (i.e., conversation 1 through conversation 4), will expose small changes in use, and, as a consequence, will uncover patterns of intra-individual variability.


Coming in Fall, 2016