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The effects of task type in Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2010

Yucel Yilmaz
University of Calgary, Language Research Center Craigie Hall D411, University of Calgary 2500 University Drive N.W. Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4Canada (240) 8808939/(403) 2108544 (email:
Gisela Granena
University of Maryland at College Park, 4120 Jimenez hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740 (850) 9802554 (email:


This study examines the potential of learner-learner interaction through Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication (SCMC) to focus learners’ attention on form. Focus on form is operationalized through Language-Related Episodes (LREs), instances where learners turn their attention to formal aspects of language by questioning the accuracy of their own or each other’s language use. The study also compares two task types, jigsaw and dictogloss, with respect to the number and characteristics of LREs. Ten adult intermediate ESL learners from an intensive English language program in the US worked together in dyads to carry out one jigsaw and one dictogloss task in an SCMC environment. Tasks were controlled for content and were presented in two alternative orders. The dictogloss in this study generated more LREs than the jigsaw. LREs were also qualitatively different across task types. Jigsaw LREs were implicit and did not result in incorrectly solved outcomes, whereas dictogloss LREs were explicit and resulted in correctly solved, incorrectly solved, and unresolved outcomes.

Research Article
Copyright © European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning 2010

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