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Commenting Strategies in an eTandem Blog Exchange

JALT-CALL 2011, Kurume
June 5th, 13:10

Presentation summary:
This presentation is based on a tandem blogging project between an English class at the University of Yamanashi (Japan) and a Japanese language class at the University of New Hampshire (USA) between 2007 and 2010. Each group of students contributed to a group blog in their target language, and then in their role as native speakers, commented on the target language blog of their partner class. In this way all participants acted as both language learners and language experts in the exchange. The study explored the communication strategies of the participants in this exchange by looking at the types of interaction in the commenting portion of the blogging process. The study found that disparity in second language ability led to difficulties in the exchange, including low participation and shorter contributions by the lower level group. In addition, the study identified different corrective strategies that were employed by the different cultures, which both contributed to and detracted from the social distance of participants. The nature of these differences was the different ways that compliments were used in the exchange, particularly when used in conjunction with explicit corrective feedback. While the American students tended to surround corrections with compliments, using a kind of ‘sandwich strategy’, the Japanese students were more direct when offering corrective comments. It is unclear if this was a result of cultural influences or the inequity of language skills in the partnership. In addition to these findings, the study concluded that blogs served as an effective medium for intercultural language exchange.