Exploring language learning and corrective feedback in an eTandem project

Tang, Jinlan; Kan, Qian; Wang, Na and Hu, Xiaona (2021). Exploring language learning and corrective feedback in an eTandem project. Journal of China Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 1(1)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jccall-2021-2005

Abstract

Many studies about eTandem and language learning stem from learners in Western institutions of higher education. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research investigating the telecollaboration regarding language development between learners in the East and the West. Against this backdrop, a small-scale, six-week Chinese-English eTandem project focusing on learners’ language learning processes and experiences was undertaken between nine Chinese university students learning English in China and nine British university students learning Chinese in the UK. Multiple datasets were collected from learners’ diaries, synchronous Skype communication recordings, email exchanges, interviews and a post-project survey. This paper reports the main language error types made by Chinese L2 learners of English and error correction strategies provided by eTandem partners of competent L1 English speakers, along with how Chinese participants responded to the corrections. A thorough analysis of the research data indicated three types of linguistic errors in written tasks made by Chinese L2 learners of English: grammatical, lexical and idiomatic expressions. Another finding was that, although explicit written correction was the most commonly used strategy in email exchanges, learners preferred explanations with examples. In addition to previously established gains of eTandem learning, such as authentic communication, forging friendship and promoting intercultural awareness, positive responses to competent L1 partners’ error corrections was another major benefit indicated in our data. Our study pinpoints the importance of both pre-project training of participants on error-correction strategies with examples and how to respond to partner feedback in future eTandem projects.

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