Instant messaging in distributed and distance language learning

Rossade, K. D.; Heins, B. and Hampel, R. (2005). Instant messaging in distributed and distance language learning. In: World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (EDMEDIA) 2005, 2005, Chesapeake, VA.


This paper considers Instant Messaging (IM) for language learning in distributed and distance learning environments. It assesses the challenges in language learning today, how IM can support learners, teachers and providers, and points to opportunities IM technology holds for the learning process. Existing research in IM amongst teenager, in the workplace and, to a lesser extent, in education reveals "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (Farmer 2003) of IM and trials with German students at a UK Higher Education Distance Learning institution (2003-04) provide action research data to support existing research and allow speculation about the future of IM in language learning. Qualitative feedback from the trials suggest that the social presence awareness, emotional well-being and sense of belonging may well be supported by the use of IM. Learners also commented on IM's potential to create more opportunities for language learners to practice their active skills and seemed to support research findings that see written synchronous CMC as a valid preparation for speaking in another language.

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