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The Effects of Different Language Tasks on CSL Beginners’ Chinese Oral Communication Performances in Second Life
Chinese as Second Language Learning
Task-based approach, which involves a primary focus on meaning, target and communication, is commonly used in Chinese as second/ foreign language teaching to improve learner interaction and communicative competence. However, it is sometimes difficult to provide an authentic learning environment in traditional Chinese classrooms to enhance learners’ meaningful oral interaction, and thus the topic is worth discussing. In the past years, researchers found that the difficulty can be alleviated though teaching and learning in Second Life, a platform which can provide users with the authentic context and the function of multi-user interactive shared 3D environment. According to the research purpose, Experimental Research Design was used in this study, and 30 CSL beginners were recruited. Through analysis of students’ pre-and post-test scores, teaching videos clips, questionnaires and after class interviews, this study investigated whether and how two types of task-based learning activities (e.g., information gap and reasoning gap) in Second Life can improve learners’ oral communication performances, and discussed which type of task activity can best help learners’ interaction and help teachers to find students’ error patterns. Besides, learners’ attitudes toward this learning approach are also being explored. The results showed that implementing task-based learning activities in Second Life can make significant progress toward improving learners’ communication competence in both types of tasks. According to the data, however, the students who participated in the reasoning-gap task significantly improved their oral proficiency more than the ones participated in the information-gap task. In addition, learners’ error patterns like “bǎ” construction errors, sequential errors, verb sequential errors and omission errors of “de” were found in task implementation and post-test analysis. As for the attitude, we found that learners with both types of task have great learning motivation, especially in the group of reasoning-gap task. Although these CSL learners reported positive attitudes toward learning in Second Life, they also suggested that there is a need to provide better hardware and stable internet connection to ensure the effectiveness of implementing the task-based learning approach.
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