This pilot study explores the use of Internet Relay Chat facilities such as ICQ in an independent-use mode, as a vehicle for potential English language enhancement. In a small-scale study, a number of Hong Kong secondary school students (Grades 7-10) agreed to participate in an on-line 'chatting' programme (in a text-only mode) for a minimum of 20 h over a one-month period. Participants could talk to anyone and discuss any topic. They were not asked to record their conversations, but only to bear in mind whilst they 'chatted' a point of English grammar (previously identified as a common error) - the concept of 'one finite verb per main clause'. Samples of written work were collected pre- and post-study, and analysed for the error specified. The same was done for a small control group. Participants completed questionnaires, detailing demographic data and computer-familiarity. In terms of motivation, the study emerged as having been stimulating to and beneficial for subjects who participated. Although the preliminary data indicated a lack of quantitative difference in error rate between the experimental and the control groups, a qualitative analysis revealed diverging patterns of environments where errors occur between the two groups, suggesting that the experimental group were more ready to use complex sentences or sentences involving auxiliaries beyond their interlanguage grammar levels. Copyright © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
CitationConiam, D., & Wong, R. (2004). Internet Relay Chat as a tool in the autonomous development of ESL learners' English language ability: An exploratory study. System, 32(3), 321-335. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2004.03.001
- IRC chat
- English language
- Computer-mediated communication