CAWD/Features of Interaction in Virtual Environments

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Features of Interaction in Virtual Environments

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The features of interaction shown below, based on an ESL/EFL literacy researcher’s personal experience, support the potentials of virtual environments to improve not only EFL learners’writing ability but also language development. Furthermore, the features will help EFL learners know how to apply virtual environments to English writing development.

1) Learners can join various authentic writing tasks with authentic audiences.

Virtual environments are based on written-language conversation tools such as synchronous chats, e-mails, and bulletin boards. As soon as learners enter virtual environments, they have to write in English for the purpose of communication or to deliver their opinions. In that, virtual environments enable EFL learners to engage in authentic writing tasks with authentic audiences.

 WORLDSMASTER> Welcome to Worlds! 
 ylim5> hi, there!  
 Rating Thread           Thread Starter     Last Post       Replies  Views
 True Doctor Stories     Tex_Bugman         by Tex_Bugman      8       52 

2) Learners receive direct or indirect feedback on the target language writing from their partners.

The feedback plays an important role in language development. However, it is not easy for EFL learners to receive feedback because they do not have many chances to use English, and there are few people who are proficient in English in the environment of the learners. Thus, virtual environments are good places for EFL learners' writing and language development because they allow EFL learners to use English. In addition, the native speakers that the learners meet in virtual environments correct EFL learners' English errors in the natural situations and in the various ways.

 A: right click on my body and you will see some options (Native speaker) 
 B: opetions? (EFL/ESL literacy researcher) 
 A: options (Native speaker) 
 I made an exam paper. (from a EFL leanrer's e-mail) 
 -> Did you set an exam, or prepare an exam paper.(from the response of a native speaker)

3) Learners can learn about the target language society and culture as well as language.

Many researchers (e.g. Kern, 2000) in literacy education prove the importance of learning about target language society and culture to develop literacy ability. Virtual environments make possible that EFL learners can learn about them through various communication tools: synchronous chat, e-mail, and bulletin board.

 Member   Join Date: Jun 2004   Location: Whitehorse, Frozen North   Age: 41   Posts: 396   
 4 minutes of silence 
 Four RCMP officers were shot and killed after conducting a raid on a marijuana grow operation northwest of     
 Edmonton on Thursday.
 It's the single deadliest incident for Canada's national police force in 120 years. 
 At a news conference in Mayerthorpe, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bill Sweeney said: "As you can well imagine,  
 the loss of four police officers is unprecedented in recent history in Canada. . . . It's devastating." 
 He added that not since the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 have so many police officers been killed in the line 
 of duty. (From a native speaker) 

4) Learners experience a sense of place, a setting similar to face-to-face conversation with native speakers because learners show what they look like and express their feelings. Furthermore, interaction is much more similar to the discourse and behavior of people gathered anywhere for the purpose of socializing.

 B: can I keep in touch with you? (EFL/ESL literacy researcher) 
 A: we have a meeting on this Sunday evening (Native speaker) 
 A: really??? (EFL/ESL literacy researcher) 
 B: nice to meet you (EFL/ESL literacy researcher)  
 A: nice dance (Native speaker)
 B: thanks (EFL/ESL literacy researcher)
 KaiteB: do your students connect internet? (Native speaker)
 WangZ: Yes, but their computer skills are not good. (EFL/ESL literacy researcher) 
 KaiteB: if so, it will be not easy because you have to teach everything in detail (Native speaker) 
 WangZ: Do you have any good ideas? (EFL/ESL literacy researcher) 

5) Both the feeling of object ownership as learners create spaces and the permanence of the environment motivate learners to return for continued conversation and community building. it is cooperation that encourages learners to continue developing their writing ability.

  Virtual environments look like real life places. For example, when I go back to a virtual environment, nothing has really changed. 
  My own rooms and objects represent me, so I need to always take care of them. 
  (From interview with an EFL/ESL literacy researcher)