Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 October 2018
This study adds to the literature on computer-mediated communication (CMC) by examining the impact of online voice recording (VR) activities and peer-to-peer videoconferencing (VC) conversations on the development of beginning Spanish learners’ speaking performance. Specifically, this paper explores (1) whether VR and VC activities promote oral proficiency, and if so, whether those gains can be seen both in presentational and interpersonal modes of communication; and (2) whether VR and VC activities foster oral proficiency in similar ways to face-to-face (F2F) communication. A quasi-experimental, pre-/post-test design was used in the study. Three sections of a first semester Spanish course were assigned to one of the following conditions: F2F, VR, and VC. Complexity, accuracy, and fluency measures were used to analyze learners’ speaking performance in the two tasks. A mixed effects model analysis was used to investigate differences across time as well as among groups. Results show that both F2F communication and VR activities promote complexity and fluency in presentational tasks and fluency in interpersonal tasks, although F2F produces superior results regarding complexity in presentational tasks. VC activities promote complexity and fluency in presentational tasks and complexity, accuracy, and fluency in interpersonal tasks. Overall, this study shows that medium is not merely a delivery device but has important implications for learning outcomes. In this sense, these findings contribute to answering the wider question of how the use of technology in second language instruction plays a decisive role in current teaching practices.