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Friday, March 16 • 10:30am - 11:00am
Incidental development of EFL proficiency in online communication during collaborative online international projects

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When adopted in language education, COIL aims to develop students’ language skills, especially output skills, and cross-cultural competence. Existing studies of such online facilitation in language education have largely employed online communication data over loosely-assigned discussion tasks, instead of more rigorously-organized collaborative projects which are not typical conventional practices, and reports about COIL projects in learning English as a foreign language (EFL) are scarce. The present study details online facilitation of an 8-week COIL module entitled “European (-style) buildings in Tianjin: Exploring modernity in East Asia”, collaborated by a College English class in a Chinese university and a Japanese Art and Civilization class in an American university. Students formed international teams and collaborated on projects on various European-style buildings in Tianjin, during which they continuously communicated within and beyond their own international team by online tools. Examined in this study is the 8-week online text-based communication between students from both sides, as triangulated with qualitative data of interviews and students’ essay. Quantitative and qualitative measures were employed to evidence the effect of online communication during COIL projects on Chinese students’ incidental development of linguistic complexity and accuracy. Data revealed Chinese students’ improvement in syntactic and lexical complexity, but no reliable increase was found in their linguistic accuracy, which might be expounded by the fact that, to facilitate their COIL projects, the students’ information exchange was more meaning-focused than form-focused. There was evidence that Chinese students intentionally adopted the language structures used by their international partners. Common errors committed by Chinese students, surprisingly, were related to basic grammars. This study will help to build a more comprehensive ecosystem of COIL in integration with technologies and language education, which may empower students with improved English proficiency and international outlook, and instructors with better professional development.

avatar for Ruiling Feng

Ruiling Feng

Lecturer, Tianjin Normal University
Ruiling Feng is a lecturer and COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) coordinator in College English Department at the Foreign Languages College, Tianjin Normal University. She was a Fulbright scholar at Colgate University during the academic year 2014-2015. Her research... Read More →

Friday March 16, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Room 9 FIT Conference Center