The Role of Linguistic Affordances in Telecollaborative Chat


  • Mark Anthony Darhower



Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication (SCMC), Telecollaboration, Linguistic Affordances, Learner Perceptions


This study examines synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) discourse in a bilin-gual chat setting consisting of Spanish-speaking learners of English and English-speaking learners of Spanish. Participants were members of a telecollaboration involving 80 students at North Carolina State University and the University of Puerto Rico. Data were derived from two chat groups, one of four students and the other of five students, engaged in nine 1-hour chat sessions (a half hour in English and a half hour in Spanish). The ecological affordance construct (van Lier, 1996, 2000) frames three research questions: (a) What types of linguistic affordances emerge in the bilingual chat sessions? (b) How do learners respond to linguistic affordances provided by native speakers? and (c) What are learners' perceptions regarding linguistic affordances in their chat discourse? Find-ings reveal that participants provide a range of affordances to each other, although affordances ap-pear to have a limited role in the overall telecollaborative context.


ACTFL. (1999). ACTFL proficiency guidelines—Speaking. Retrieved June 1, 2003, from

Anton, M., & DiCamilla, F. (1998). Socio-cognitive functions of L1 in collaborative interaction in the L2 classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 54(3), 314-342.

Basharina, O. (2007). An Activity Theory perspective on student-reported contradictions in international telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 11(2), 36-58. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Beauvois, M. H. (1998). Write to speak: The effects of electronic communication on the oral achievement of fourth semester French students. In J. Muyskens (Ed.), Issues in language program direction (pp. 93-116). Boston: Heinle.

Belz, J. A. (2001). Institutional and individual dimensions of transatlantic group work network-based language teaching. ReCALL, 13(2), 129-147.

Belz, J. A. (2002). Social dimensions of telecollaborative foreign language study. Language Learning & Technology, 6(1), 60-81. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Belz, J. A. (2003). Linguistic perspectives on the development of intercultural competence in telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 68-117. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Belz, J. A. (2005). Intercultural questioning, discovery and tension in internet-mediated language partnerships. Language and Intercultural Education, 5(1), 3-39.

Belz, J. A., & Kinginger, C. (2003). Discourse options and the development of pragmatic competence by classroom learners of German: The case of address forms. Language Learning, 53(4), 591-647.

Belz, J. A., & Thorne, S. (Eds.). (2005). Internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education. Boston: Thomson Heinle.

Belz, J., & Vyatkina, N. (2005). Learner corpus analysis and the development of L2 pragmatic competence in networked intercultural language study: The case of German modal particles. Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, 38(1), 44-60.

Blake, R. (2000). Computer mediated communication: A window on L2 Spanish interlanguage. Language Learning & Technology, 4(1), 120-136. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Brammerts, H. (1996). Language learning in tandem using the internet. In M. Warschauer (Ed.), Telecollaboration in foreign language learning: Proceedings of the Hawai’i Symposium (pp. 121-130). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center.

Brammerts, H., & Calvert, C. (2003). Learning by communicating in tandem. In T. Lewis & L Walker (Eds.), Autonomous language learning in tandem (pp. 45-60). Sheffield, UK: Academy Electronic Publications.

Darhower, M. (2002). Interactional features of synchronous computer-mediated communication in the intermediate L2 class: A sociocultural case study. CALICO Journal, 19(2), 249-278. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Darhower, M. (2006). Where’s the community?: Bilingual internet chat and the “fifth C” of the national standards. Hispania, 89(1), 84-98.

Darhower, M. (2007). A tale of two communities: Group dynamics and community building in a Spanish-English telecollaboration. CALICO Journal, 24(3), 561-590. Retrieved May 12, 2008, from

Ellis, R., Basturkmen, H., & Loewen, S. (2001). Preemptive focus on form in the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 35(3), 407-432.

Fiori. (2005). The development of grammatical competence through synchronous computer-mediated communication. CALICO Journal, 22(3), 567-602. Retrieved May 12, 2008, from

Furstenberg, G., Levet, S., English, K., & Maillet, K. (2001). Giving a virtual voice to the silent language of culture: The cultura project. Language Learning & Technology, 5(1), 55-102. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Gibson, J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kinginger, C. (2000). Learning the pragmatics of solidarity in the networked foreign language classroom. In J. K. Hall & L. S. Verplaeste (Eds.), Second and foreign language learning through classroom interaction (pp. 23-46). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kinginger, C. (2004). Communicative foreign language teaching through telecollaboration. In K. van Esch & O. St. John (Eds.), New insights into foreign language teaching and learning (pp. 101-114). New York: Peter Lang.

Kötter, M. (2002). Tandem learning on the internet: Learner interactions in virtual online environments (MOOs). New York: Peter Lang.

Kötter, M. (2003). Negotiation of meaning and code switching in online tandems. Language Learning & Technology, 7(3), 145-172. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Lam, W. S. E., & Kramsch, C. (2003). The ecology of an SLA community in a computer-mediated environment. In J. Leather & J. van Dam (Eds.), Ecology of language acquisition (pp. 141-158). Boston: Kluwer.

Lantolf, J. P., & Pavlenko, A. (2001). (S)econd (L)anguage (A)ctivity: Understanding learners as people. In M. P. Breen (Ed.), Learner contributions to language learning: New directions in research (pp. 141-158). New York: Longman.

Lee, L. (2002). Synchronous online exchanges: A study of codification devises on non-native discourse. System, 30(3), 275-288.

Lee, L. (2006). A study of native and nonnative speakers’ feedback and responses in Spanish-American networked collaborative interaction. In J. A. Belz & S. Thorne (Eds.), Internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education (pp. 147-176). Boston: Heinle.

Lewis, T., & Walker, L. (Eds.). (2003). Autonomous language learning in tandem. Sheffield, UK: Academy Electronic Publications.

Long, M. (1996). The role of linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W. C. Richie & B. K. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 413-468). New York: Academic Press.

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). An expanded sourcebook: Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Miller, P. (2005). Ecological interaction in ESL writing: Perceiving and acting on affordances for selfregulation in discourse and grammar. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA.

O’Rourke, B. (2005). Form-focused interaction in online tandem learning. CALICO Journal, 22(3), 433-466. Retrieved May 12, 2008, from

Ortega, L. (1997). Processes and outcomes in networked classroom interaction: Defining the research agenda for L2 computer-assisted classroom discussion. Language Learning & Technology, 1(1), 82-93. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Pellettieri, J. (2000). Negotiation in cyberspace: The role of chatting in the development of grammatical competence. In M. Warschauer & R. Kern (Eds.), Network-based language teaching: Concepts and practice (pp. 59-86). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Pica, T. (1994). Research on negotiation: What does it reveal about second language learning conditions, processes, and outcomes? Language Learning, 44(3), 493-527.

Pike, K. (1967). Language in relation to a unified theory of structure of human behavior (2nd ed.). The Hague: Mouton.

Schmidt, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11(1), 129-158.

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. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Smith, B. (2003). Computer-mediated negotiated interaction: An expanded model. The Modern Language Journal, 87(1), 38-57.

Sotillo, S. (2005). Corrective feedback via instant messenger learning activities in NS-NNS dyads. CALICO Journal, 22(3), 467-496. Retrieved May 12, 2008, from

Thorne, S. (2003). Artifacts and cultures-of-use in intercultural communication. Language Learning and Technology, 7(2), 38-67. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Thorne, S. (2006). Pedagogical and praxiological lessons from internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education research. In J. A. Belz & S. Thorne (Eds.), Internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education (pp. 2-30). Boston: Thomson Heinle.

van Lier, L. (1996). Interaction in the language curriculum: Awareness, autonomy & authenticity. New York: Longman.

van Lier, L. (2000). From input to affordance: Social-interactive learning from an ecological perspective. In J. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp. 245-259). New York: Oxford University Press.

van Lier, L. (2004). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. Boston: Kluwer.







How to Cite

Darhower, M. A. (2013). The Role of Linguistic Affordances in Telecollaborative Chat. CALICO Journal, 26(1), 48-69.