A Research Synthesis


  • Shannon Sauro



Communicative Competence, synchronous Computer-mediated Communication, Second Language Acquisition (SLA), Language Development, Language Use


This research synthesis explores the role of synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) for second language acquisition (SLA). Using Hymes’ (1971) notion of communicative competence and Canale and Swain’s (1980; Canale, 1983) subsequent framework for communicative language teaching, the synthesis examines the research trends, methods, and findings addressed by journal articles which have evaluated the role of SCMC for SLA over the past 20 years.


Baron, N. S. (2008). Always on. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Canale, M. (1983). From communicative competence to language pedagogy. In J. Richards & J. Schmidt (Eds.), Language and communication (pp. 2-27). London: Longman.

Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1, 1-47.

Chapelle, C. (1997). CALL in the year 2000: Still in search of research paradigms? Language Learning and Technology 1(1), 19-43. Retrieved from

Cook, G. (2000). Language play, language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hymes, D. H. (1966). Two types of linguistic relativity. In W. Bright (Ed.), Sociolinguistics (pp. 114-158). The Hague: Mouton.

Hymes, D. H. (1971). On communicative competence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kramsch, C., & Whiteside, A. (2008). Language ecology in multilingual settings: Towards a theory of symbolic competence. Applied Linguistics, 29, 645-671.

Leung (2005). Convivial communication: Recontextualizing communicative competence. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 15, 119-144.

Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. London: Hodder Education.

Pica, T., Kanagy, R., & Falodun, J. (1993). Choosing and using communication tasks for second language instruction. In G. Crookes & S. Gass (Eds.), Tasks and language learning: Integrating theory and practice. Vol. 1. (pp. 9-34). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Riley, K. C. (2008). Language socialization. In B. Spolsky and F. M. Hult (Eds.), The handbook of educational linguistics (pp. 398-410). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Schmidt, R. (1983). Interaction, acculturation, and the acquisition of communicative competence: A case study of one adult. In N. Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (pp. 137-174). New York: Newbury House.

Schmidt, R., & Frota, S. (1986). Developing basic conversational ability in a second language: A case study of an adult learner of Portuguese. In R. Day (Ed.), Talking to learn: Conversation in second language acquisition (pp. 237–326). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Smith, B., & Lafford, B. A. (2009). The evaluation of scholarly activity in computer-assisted language learning. The Modern Language Journal, 93, 868-883.

Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (1998). Interaction and second language learning: Two adolescent French immersion students working together. Modern Language Journal, 82, 320-337.

Varonis, E. M., & Gass, S. (1985). Non-native/non-native conversations: A model for negotiation of meaning. Applied Linguistics, 6, 71-90.

Warschauer, M., & Kern, R. (Eds.). (2000). Network-based language teaching: Concepts and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.







How to Cite

Sauro, S. (2013). SCMC for SLA: A Research Synthesis. CALICO Journal, 28(2), 369-391.