Degree Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2007

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

John Levis

Abstract

This study investigated the impact and usefulness of synchronous voice chat to improve English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners' spoken production after participating in a six-week task-treatment using Yahoo Messenger with Voice in non-native speaker to native-speaker dyads. Specifically, this study examined how the EFL learners' spoken production changed by measuring and comparing the following temporal variables in the pre- and post-tests: speech rate, articulation rate and pause phenomena. Also, the same temporal variables were measured for each type of task to determine whether the type of task affected the spoken production. The study examined the participants' reactions and feelings about the experience with voice chat in real time. Finally, the study looked at whether voice chat in real time- conversational partnerships with English native-speakers could be a resource for learning the language more effectively in EFL environments.;The participants were two Spanish speaking learners of English who were enrolled in an intermediate English course at the Department of Languages at a university in Ambato---Ecuador, and two native speakers of English who were enrolled at Iowa State University. The research included a pre-test, a task-treatment process, and a post-test. The pre-test and post-test contained 15 questions each whose topics were descriptions (people, places, situations and stories), celebrations (food and festivals), recommendations (home remedies, environment, education and public services), and special topics (skills, and plans). The task-treatment contained 11 tasks categorized as Information Gap (Background information, Description of countries and Favorite Food), Decision Making (Argumentation (for and against), Create a recipe and Special Dinner), Opinion Exchange (Environmental problems and School systems), Questions and Answers (Recent trip and Favorite festival), and Problem Solving (Student's arrivals). Participants fill out a reflection journal after each voice chat sessions. Finally, each participant was interviewed regarding the voice chat experience they had had.;The results showed that the task interactions using voice chat with native speakers helped EFL learners improve their fluency, acquire new vocabulary and feel more confident in speaking the target language and interacting with native speakers of the language. Moreover, the results showed that dysfluency markers such as filled pauses and pauses played an important role in the development of fluency and in the perception that native speakers have about the speech of learners. In addition, the findings of this case study suggested that the most reliable measurements of fluency are speech and articulation rates. Moreover, contrary to the belief that filled pauses and pauses are dysfluency markers, filled pauses bridge the gap between actual utterances and silence which seem to be one of the key elements of fluid and smooth speech, and pauses seem to not disrupt the speech if their length does not cause excessive interruption of speech. The data also suggested that voice chat seems to be an effective classroom aid that instructors may want to encourage learners to use in order to practice the target language in a more informal, meaningful and authentic form.

Publisher

Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/

Copyright Owner

Nadia Verónica Jaramillo Chérrez

Language

en

Proquest ID

AAI1446033

OCLC Number

180774533

ISBN

9780549141525

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

201 pages