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Developing Interaction Via CMC: A Case Study of Chinese Students’ Discourse On Bulletin Board System. JIANG Yaoyi Beijing Forestry University. Overview. 1. Why are they ‘ reticent ’? 2. Why CMC may help? 3. How do they interact in CMC? 4. Reticence or Active interaction? And why?.

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developing interaction via cmc a case study of chinese students discourse on bulletin board system

Developing Interaction Via CMC: A Case Study of Chinese Students’ Discourse On Bulletin Board System

JIANG YaoyiBeijing Forestry University

  • 1. Why are they ‘reticent’?
  • 2. Why CMC may help?
  • 3. How do they interact in CMC?
  • 4. Reticence or Active interaction? And why?
1 1 cultural attributes
1.1 Cultural Attributes
  • Face
  • Modesty
  • Teachers’ Hierarchy
1 2 teaching process in china
1.2 Teaching Process in China
  • Large amount of information to be conveyed
  • Limited class hours
  • Big class
  • Teacher-centred
1 3 non authentic tasks
1.3 Non-Authentic tasks
  • in a traditional EFL classroom:

The questions and activities—— purposeless and non-authentic

1 4 anxiety about english language
1.4 Anxiety about English Language
  • The Chinese students feel embarrassedto volunteers for fear of making mistakes.
  • They are nervous if the teacher asks a question that they do not know.
  • They feel uneasy if they fail to express themselves or if they feel that their classmates’ English is better.

(Liu, 1989)

1 5 expectations of good students
1.5 Expectations of Good Students


(partly quoted from Cortazzi and Jin, 1996: 189)

2 why cmc may help
2. Why CMC may help?
  • CMC may give a voice to students who are usually silent in traditional classrooms (Colomb and Simutis, 1996:208) and may lead to more student-initiated interaction (González-Buena, 1998)
2 1 technical conveniences
2.1 Technical Conveniences
  • Increase the richness and diversity of information
  • Flexibility of time and space
  • Information conveyed over long distance
  • Text-based
2 2 collaboration
2.2 Collaboration
  • Key features of online learning are cooperation and collaboration (Salmon, 1998)
  • voluntary contribution
2 3 social dynamics
2.3 Social dynamics
  • Social factors
  • Li (2000):

The tasks with audiences---active interaction

The tasks without audiences--- less interaction

2 4 task authenticity
2.4 Task Authenticity

CMC tasks:

  • more conversational and informal
  • goal-oriented with communicative purpose
  • assist the development of individuation. E.g. :-)- , :-(- 
2 5 lower anxiety
2.5 Lower Anxiety
  • Anonymity --- Less face-threatening & safer writing environment than a classroom
  • Text-base --- permanent record for revision
  • Time-independent CMC --- more time to organize the discourse
2 6 equality
2.6 Equality
  • CMC:

“a means to share the teacher’s authority” (Colomb and Simutis, 1996: 211)


Large amount of information

  • & Limited class hours
  • Big class



Asking questions

is not important



A Chinese EFL classroom

A CMC EFL environment

Face & Modesty





Task Authenticity


Lower Anxiety

3 methodology
3. Methodology
  • Medium: A BBS named English Online (EO for short)
  • Voluntary and anonymous participation
  • ‘Question & Answer’ time on every Wednesday afternoon

Catty2000 (author’s name)超级菜包子(Super Pie)

发帖数: 80

(messages posted)


time of registration): 3003-10-31

The interface of message page of EO

2003-11-31 04:25 PM TONGUE TWISTER I'd drive five miles on Friday night to see a fight that I like.      星期五晚上我要开车五公里去看我喜欢的一场搏斗。 You know I know that you know. I know that you know that I know.      你知道我知道你知道。我知道你知道我知道。 A fat man sat on a black cat and the black cat was squashed flat, for the man was mad.      一个胖子坐在一只黑猫身上,这只黑猫被压扁了,因为这个人发疯了。 Farmer Barnes goes to market in a car, and drives many a hard bargain buying and selling calves.      农民巴恩斯坐车去集市上为了买卖小牛而讨价还价,费尽口舌。 To run and play under the sun is fun. When your work is done, come out in the sun and have some fun. 在阳光下追逐嬉戏非常有趣。当你的工作完成后就赶快到阳光下尽情地玩儿

Period: Ten weeks from Oct 21 to Dec 30, 2003
  • Subject: Students (around 5000) in NEUSoft Institute of Information Technology
  • Research question: How do the Chinese students make interaction in a CMC EFL learning environment? If reticence is found, why?
4 active interaction or reticence
4. Active interaction or reticence?
  • Data: a. everyday discourse was recorded and coded.

b. 11 students, including 3 non-participants, were interviewed

4 1 active interaction
4.1 Active Interaction

Student-initiated: 112

topic messages:153

976 messages

responding messages: 823

Teacher- initiated: 41

level of interaction
Level of Interaction
  • Model 1: S T
  • Model 2: S S T
  • Model 3: S T S
  • Model 4: S S T S S
  • Model 5: S S
  • Model 6: S/T (topic 1) S (topic 2)
focus of communication
Focus of Communication

Proportion of different category of EO messages

4 2 reticence
4.2 Reticence
  • Total number of students: around 5000

Total number of students that registered on EO: 1134

  • Total number of hits: 9078

Total number of messages: 976

5 reasons for reticence on eo
5. Reasons for reticence on EO

1) Anxiety and Face problem still exist.

2) Unsatisfactory writing feedback

3) Learners’ need

4) Quality of English language

5) Lost in the learner-centred EO

6) Teacher’s role.

a. changeable Q&A time

b. late feedback

c. limited coverage of content

6 new findings
6. New findings
  • The use of images was helpful to express feelings more directly, in particular for those who are shy and don’t say much in real life.
  • EO has shorten the distance and develop the friendship between the teachers and the students
  • ‘Super Pie’ is regarded as a figure of authority
  • Keeping silent on EO is selfish
7 implications
7. Implications
  • Feedback: timely and help; in more details
  • More authentic learning material
  • More instruction given to participants
  • Schooling management
  • All the learners’ need
  • Quality of target language