Edited by Antonia Rubino
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 18] 2004
► pp. 63–80
Most studies in the field of synchronous Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) deal with interactions between language learners, while interactions between native speakers (NS) and learners have not been explored to the same extent, particularly to ascertain whether chatting with NS can provide a pedagogically sound bridge to conversation. Through the analysis of interactions within a NS Italian chatline, this paper considers whether the chatline environment can act as a bridge to conversational Italian by providing the same opportunities for second language acquisition reputedly offered by face-to-face interaction. Italian NS chatline discourse is analysed for its conversational ‘flavour’ by considering variety of Italian, range of topics, questions, discourse markers, feedback tokens and negotiations. The findings of this study suggest that NS chat discourse can provide learners with exposure to colloquial and regional varieties of Italian, which are generally unavailable in language textbooks. Furthermore, NS chatline discourse offers learners a type of informal conversational practice which also includes negotiation of meaning, thus confirming its role in promoting language learning.
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