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How Computer Mediated Communication Affect Students English Language Essay

4964 words (20 pages) Essay in English Language

5/12/16 English Language Reference this

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There are many genres in computer-mediated communication which are e-mails, chat-groups and the World Wide Web, etc. CMC is one of the popular forms of written language nowadays. CMC also changes people’s way of thinking. The CMC discourse affects students’ writing competence in a certain extent. This research discovers the occurrence of CMC discourse in students’ writing and how CMC affects their writing competence.

Chapter 1

Introduction

Since the rapid development of Internet and mass media, people are more rely on using Internet and mass media to obtain information. (Flanagin and Metzger, 2000) Internet covers almost all the topic that people know that is an ocean of information. It is much more quickly searching information though the Internet than reading entire books or collections. People exchange data and communicate thought different genres of Internet devices. Internet seems become an inevitable part in education and communication.

Many new formats of media appear, like online forum, instant message program, short message service (SMS), etc. Language maintains social relationship between people, which is a sub-filed of linguistics called sociolinguistics. When new formats of communication appear, language patterns also change to distinguish whether people belongs to the group or not. The wording students use in the Internet will be different from the formal ones. Scholars like Crystal (2001) called the use of computer for communication– computer mediated communication (CMC). There are asynchronous (delay) communication tools and synchronous (real-time) communication tools in CMC. Electronic mail systems (e-mail), newsgroups and bulletin board system (BBS) are the examples of asynchronous communication tools; instant messaging systems, like MSN Messenger and QQ, are the example of synchronous communication tool.

One of the major advantages of such synchronous CMC is to bring together geographically dispersed students, and add immediacy and increase motivation. Teachers are encouraged to use CMC in their teaching, but the impact of CMC which is affect students’ writing competence negatively, especially second language (L2) learners.

Computer equipments are essential in L2 classroom, no matter which level the students are. Writing competence shows students’ comprehensive language ability. Most importantly, students use the computer as a learning tool and entertainment in their leisure time. Teachers cannot measure the negative effect that CMC language brings. As students may think that using CMC language is trendy and more fashionable, they tend to use the wording in the Internet and this writing style may affect their formal writing unconsciously.

This research paper investigates how computer-mediated communication affects students’ writing competence at Beijing Normal University- Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (UIC).

UIC is the first university that cooperated by Mainland China and Hong Kong. It is a new liberal arts college to serve China and the world.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

The previous chapter has a brief introduction on this research paper.

According to Qin (2010), CMC is multi-dimensional and takes many forms synchronous (participants are on-line at the same time and interactions occur at the same time) or asynchronous (participants need not to be on-line at the same time). CMC can be one-to-one or many-to-many communication. Consider the following figure:

Figure 1 CMC features

From the Figure 1, there are main types of CMC. The forms of CMC may then be classified depending on they are synchronous or not and on the number of participants who are involved in the interactions. The full name of IRC is internet relay chat. According to Jarkko and Darren (1993) “it is a protocol for real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message as well as chat and data transfer.” “A MOO is a text-based online virtual reality system to which multiple users (players) are connected at the same time.” (Rawn, James, 1995) CMC also characterized of the structures of interaction: one-to-one interaction, one-to-many interaction, and many-to-many interaction. (Qin, 2010) For example, Lee (2002) suggested that ” a mailing list like the Linguist List would be and example of one-to-many CMC system, where a message is oftern sent to an unknown group of recipients.” According to Beauvois & Eledge (1996), CMC is a channel for synchronous or asynchronous written exchanges which is an excellent facilitator of communication. Swaffar (1998) also said that CMC engages learner more frequently, students have greater confidence and enthusiasm in communicative process.

December (1996) suggested a more comprehensive definition of CMC:

“Internet based, computer-mediated communication involves information exchange that takes place on the global, cooperative collection of networks using the TCP/ IP protocol suite and the client-server model for the data communication. Messages may undergo a range of time and distribution manipulations and encode a variety of media types. The resulting information content exchanged can involve a wide range of symbols people use for communication. “

“Language in Computer-mediated Communication (CMC)” mentioned that CMC means communication between humans using the medium of the computer like e-mail, World-Wide Web, chat rooms (Crystal, 2001). Mobile phone text messaging can also be seen as a variety of CMC, although it does not use a computer as such.

CMC also claimed that there are several notable linguistic features of CMC, such as orthography, vocabulary, grammar, discourse and text, paralinguistics and graphics. CMC demonstrates a mixture of features drawn from prototypically spoken and prototypically written media. Since CMC text-type is more informal, “spoken” style of writing, students may get used to write the informal forms in their assignments. There is a relationship between CMC and writing competence.

According to Wang, CMC has played its irreplaceable role in language teaching classroom especially in collaborative writing. It also brings new challenges on language teaching. Beauvois (1997) found that LAN (local area network) does not only improve the students’ writing but also their confidence and general ability to express them. However, LAN is based on the synchronously interaction, it is thus basically a type of oral language rather than formal writing, which according to Beauvois, may also result in better spoken language.

The discourse characteristics that commonly use in CMC language are orthography, vocabulary, grammar, discourse and text and paralinguistics and graphics (Crystal,2001; Ooi, 2002).

Orthography means the informal (“phonetic”) spelling, speed-writing (especially with mobile phones) and absence of capitalization (even with pronoun I and proper names). For example, do wot I did; thx 4 ur txt; i’ll be over later on in the day. (Crystal,2001; Ooi, 2002)

Vocabulary means informal wording, use of injections and use of “in”-terms and abbreviations, like ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing), IMHO (in my humble opinion and LOL (laugh out loud). There are also formal abbreviations, for instances DNS (domain name system), BBS (bulletin board system and BBC (blind carbon copy). (Crystal,2001; Ooi, 2002)

Grammar means “telegraphic” language and multiple coordination/ subordination in sequence. For example, Have forwarded the N e-mail. (Crystal,2001; Ooi, 2002)

Discourse and text mean the use of interaction features (e.g. questions), “stream of consciousness” writing, message-comment structures in e-mail and hypertext. (Crystal,2001; Ooi, 2002)

Paralinguistics and graphics mean spaced letters. Multiple letters, alternative markers for emphasis (“!!!!!”, “$%^&%$#”), capitalization, little or “excessive” punctuation, emoticons (“WOOOOOW”, “hahahaha”). (Crystal,2001; Ooi, 2002)

Research Question: How CMC language affects students’ writing competence?

The next chapter outlines the methodology of data collection and analysis this research.

Chapter 3

Methodology

In the previous chapter, the literature review stated that there are different characters of computer mediated communication discourse, like lexicon, graphology and orthography.

In this research, a quasi-experiment was used to investigate the possible characteristics of CMC in students’ writing. Achen (1986) stated that “Quasi-experiments are something other than a random sample of the relevant population with random assignment to treatment and control groups.” Although quasi-experiment is not a real experiment that can show the accurate result from control group and experimental group, it still has its necessity in this research. Achen (1986) pointed out that sue to randomization may be physically, economically or politically impossible and controlled field trials may be impossible, quasi-experiment is necessary used in research. Firstly, people sometimes cannot fully measure all the factors causing a result, so it is necessary to based on quasi-experimental evidence. Secondly, “the assignment to experimental and control groups must be taken as fixed, and all hope of randomization abandoned.” (Achen, 1986)

Pretest and posttest are another methodology that used in this research, showing the relationship between students’ writing competence and computer-mediated communication discourse.

Group

Timeƒ 

Exp

O

X

O

Cnt

O

N

O

(O= observation or measure; X= treatment; N= no treatment)

Firgure2: Pretest and Postest

From Figure2 (Yan, 2012), “if change from pre- to post-test for treatment group and not for control group (or not as much), change can be attributed to the treatment) assuming proper experimental controls)”

Teachers face difficulties in enhancing students’ writing competence, especially the vocabulary and grammar rules. New mass media, like mobile phones and the Internet, are used in communicate the messages through network and those media change the language style a lot for people to fit in the Internet needs. (Bennett, 2003) The Internet brings a huge freedom on writing for students (Liu, n.d.), students not only using CMC discourse in daily communication, but also in their works. Teachers take writing competence as the most seriously compare to other competence, however CMC discourse brings certain negative effect on students. (Liu, n.d.)

According to Liu (n.d.), the Internet is a double edge sword. It brings a lot of convenience, but also traps those immature students. If students addicted on surfing the Net and chatting through different synchronic response tools (like ICQ, MSN), they neglect the classic readings since these readings are not as interesting as CMC discourse. Writing competence is not only including using correct grammar, right word choice, but also including the correct and healthy values that students express. It is an influential way to promote negative values through Internet. Students’ writing competence can not be improved if they keep influenced by CMC discourse. In the chapter of literature review, lexicon, graphology and orthography are the three main characters of CMC discourse. The research is based on these characters to analysis students’ writing competence when they start engaging with English CMC discourse.

This research may help teacher to find out the relationship between writing and help them to figure out a balance between CMC discourse and writing competence. Some teachers may overuse the Internet in their teaching, and bring negative effects to their students. The findings of my study may also contribute to raising both teachers and students’ awareness of using computer mediated communication.

3.1 Background information of the targets

There are eight targets in this research, who are all Year 1 students come from the major of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) in Beijing Normal University- Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (UIC). As the entrance requirements of English score is higher than other major in UIC, which requires 110 out of 150 in China’s college entrance examination (Gaokao). All the targets scored the minimum marks in their English Gaokao, which illustrated their original English competence better than some other students in UIC. The researcher gives the subjects a list of selected CMC discourse that is commonly used in chat rooms, texting and BBS. (Appendix1) After they know CMC, they need to write a 100-word essay every week. There is not limitation on their writing topics. The whole experiment lasts about a month.

This research also aims at helping them adapt a totally new learning environment which is using English as the medium of instruction. UIC is a liberal arts school and uses English as the medium of instruction. It is much difficult for TESL Year 1 students to adapt; due to there are many linguistics terms and higher requirements on writing competence.

3.2 Data collection

The subjects were TESL Year 1 students who have little influence by the Internet, so the research finding will be more accurate. It is because the enclosed education system in China, students are not allowed to leave high schools except weekends. As the new and released, teacher is responsible for not only teaching but also for students’ personal safety. One of the researches said that the most effective ways to ensure students safety is not allowed them leave the campus without permission and abandon other extra curriculum activities. The only thing students can do in the campus is study hard so many of them do not have chance to surf the Net in Chinese, let alone English.

There are eight participants joint this experiment. Both data from pre test and post test are also needed in the research. According to Dimitrov, and Rumrill (2003), pretest-posttest are widely used in behavioral research, which aim to comparing groups and/ or measuring changes from the experimental treatments. A quasi-experiment will be conducted because it is difficult to do a full experiment, since we cannot find a group of people who have never touch the Internet to be the control group. Also there are some other reasons that can affect students’ writing competence.

Organize pretest-posttest control group design which allows researcher to control the variable of time and maturation. In most schools and classrooms, random selection is not possible. The groups of participants are nonequivalent, so their characteristics are different too. It is better to do quasi-experiment to avoid threat validity. Johnson (2008) mentioned that “validity is the degree to which a thing measures what it reports to measure”.

3.3 Data Coding Scheme and Instrumentation

A coding scheme was created from the literature review of CMC language characteristics, which stating the categories of CMC. The scheme included three different levels; they are lexicon level, graphology level and orthography level. On the lexicon level, there are neologisms (new words), abbreviations (short forms), acronyms (formal short forms) and rebuses (combination with numbers and letters). (Crytal, 2001) On the graphology level, there are change words to numbers (use “1” instead of “one”) and punctuation (use more than one punctuation marks to express emotions). On the orthography level, there are paralinguistics cues (for example “hahaha”) The research is based on these characters to analysis students’ writing. There is a evaluate sheet (Appendix 3) that used to count how many times does these properties appear in students’ writings.

Marking the maximum frequency of each properties exit in the writings, finding out the mean and standard deviation of the frequency are the ways to show the data. Mean has three related meanings in statistics, the arithmetic means of a sample, the expected value of a random variable and the mean of a probability distribution. (Feller, 1950) The mean on the evaluation sheet is the arithmetic mean, which is equal to the sum of the values divided by the number of values. (Feller, 1950) Standard deviation shows how much variation exists from the mean. A high standard deviation illustrates the data points spreading out over a large range of values; a low standard deviation illustrates the data points are very close to the mean. In other words, higher standard deviation the category has the more effect on that category from CMC discourse.

3.4 Data Analysis

The research question explored how CMC discourse affected students’ writing competence. The subjects should write one free writing a week, and last a month (they should write four writings in total). There are no topic restricts, they can write any topic they like. The first step is to find out the actual CMC discourse occurrence in their first writing. Then giving subjects some selected CMC discourse, those words are commonly use in chat room, texting and BBS. Asking subjects to write a 100-word essay in the following four weeks, aim at observe how CMC affect writing competence. The aim of the writing is looking into are there any CMC discourse occur in their writing after the researcher give the material to them. Find out the relationship between CMC and students’ writing competence. Some of the subjects were interviewed in an informal way, like chatting through QQ (a famous synchronic chatting tool in China).

The first step was reading and rereading students’ writings. During the reading and revising the metacommunicative vocabulary should be paid attention to, which indicated how CMC discourse affects their writing competence. According to Xia (2006), the metacommunicative vocabulary is the language that subjects used to talk about their language use in communication. For example, subjects used different short forms in their writing that stated out the importance of shorten their writing time. In their point of view, short forms are their metacommunication vocabulary.

3.5 Result

After coding, all occurrences of CMC discourse have been calculated according to subjects’ writings. Each subject included one pretest writing and three posttest writings, in total was four. Due to it took time to wait for the effect; the quasi-experiment lasted about a month. Table 1 is the summary of frequencies of CMC discourse in subject’s writings in week 1, which is the pretest.

CMC Discourse

Maximum Frequency

Mean

Standard Deviation

Lexicon Level

Neologisms

0

0

Abbreviations

6

0.75

2.12

Acronyms

1

0.125

0.35

Rebuses

0

0

Graphology Level

Change words to numbers

0

0

Punctuation

0

0

Orthography Level

Paralinguistic cues

1

0.125

0.35

Table 1: CMC Discourse in Subjects’ Writings in Week 1 (N=8)

From Table 1, the highest maximum frequency was using abbreviations in one subjects’ writing. Neologisms, rebuses, change words to numbers and punctuation were not found in subjects’ writing. It was the subjects’ writing from Week 1. The result was not out of exception, since the eight subjects have no understanding about CMC discourse. In most of the writings from Week 1, there was no CMC discourse. Correspond with their past lifestyle that they said in informal interview through QQ that lived in an enclosed education system.

CMC Discourse

Maximum Frequency

Mean

Standard Deviation

Lexicon Level

Neologisms

0

0

Abbreviations

5

2.5

1.92

Acronyms

0

0

Rebuses

0

0

Graphology Level

Change words to numbers

1

0.125

0.35

Punctuation

4

1

1.41

Orthography Level

Paralinguistic cues

0

0

Table 2: CMC Discourse in Subjects’ Writings in Week 2 (N=8)

From Table 2, the highest maximum frequency was using abbreviations in one subjects’ writing. Neologisms, acronyms, rebuses, punctuation and paralinguistic cues were not found in subjects’ writing. For the subjects, abbreviation is the easiest category to handle and reduce their time on dropping notes during the class. Therefore, the category of abbreviation has the maximum frequency in Week 2.

CMC Discourse

Maximum Frequency

Mean

Standard Deviation

Lexicon Level

Neologisms

0

0

Abbreviations

7

2.63

2.97

Acronyms

1

0.25

0.46

Rebuses

0

0

Graphology Level

Change words to numbers

8

1

2.83

Punctuation

6

1.75

2.55

Orthography Level

Paralinguistic cues

0

0

Table 3: CMC Discourse in Subjects’ Writings in Week 3 (N=8)

From Table 3, the highest maximum frequency was changing words to numbers in one subjects’ writing. Neologisms, rebuses and paralinguistic cues were not found in subjects’ writing. In Week 3, the data has a little bit different with Week 2. The maximum frequency in subjects’ writings still was abbreviations. As mentioned in the literature review, abbreviations mean the informal short form, like BTW (by the way). Since using abbreviations can shorten their time in writing, the subjects preferred abbreviations. Some of the abbreviations are not on the list; they searched for extra abbreviations on themselves. CMC discourse was a totally new issue for the Year 1 students in TESL.

CMC Discourse

Maximum Frequency

Mean

Standard Deviation

Lexicon Level

Neologisms

0

0

Abbreviations

10

3.63

3.07

Acronyms

2

0.25

0.71

Rebuses

0

0

Graphology Level

Change words to numbers

2

0.25

0.71

Punctuation

3

1.25

1.49

Orthography Level

Paralinguistic cues

0

0

Table 4: CMC Discourse in Subjects’ Writings in Week 4 (N=8)

From Table 4, the highest maximum frequency was using abbreviations in one subjects’ writing. Neologisms, rebuses and paralinguistic cues were not found in subjects’ writing. This was the last posttest writing for the subjects. The subjects adapted the formal writing style in their English class, so their writing became more academic than the first week. Some of them would create their own CMC discourses, which was not on the list that the researcher gave them. The subjects started to handle the rules of CMC discourse.

The research question explored how CMC discourse affected students’ writing competence. This question is related to whether CMC discourse occurred in their writings. Analysis of the informal interview data discovered different ways that CMC discourse affected students’ writing competence, such as use abbreviation of everything in writing and peer pressure.

Use abbreviation of everything in writing. Most of the subjects said that the most direct effect on CMC discourse was started to use abbreviation. Since when they were in high school, their English teacher told them to remember as much vocabulary as they can. If they recite more vocabulary than others, they had the advantage to enter university. Therefore, they had never experienced using abbreviation before, and surely did not understand the situation in UIC–spelling is not the most important issue in study. In UIC, students who could handle the academic knowledge and express their own constructive opinion would be success. Note dropping is one of the key elements to absorb academic knowledge through the lectures, so the category of abbreviation has been used at maximum frequency in three weeks out of four. There is a Chinese saying “Once you form a habit, it becomes natural to you.” All subjects realized the difference between CMC discourse and academic, however they cannot avoid of using CMC discourse when they write. They write their heart by their hands directly, without the second thought and double check before handed the writing in. One of the subjects explained the situation that using abbreviation in the writing, “It seems that using abbreviation become my habit, no matter on writing drafts or drop notes. The short form of the words comes out naturally.”

Peer pressure is another reason cause CMC discourse affects students’ writing competence. The eight subjects in this research paper would communicate with each other, and discuss how much CMC discourse they used in the writing. They take this research as a competition in a certain extend. As the researcher interviewed them in informal way, the subjects showed a sense of competitiveness toward others. They thought that the one who could utilize CMC discourse well would be the winner in the “competition” they have imagine. One of the subjects said that “I can lose my face on using CMC discourse. I can defeat the others, as my English is better than others.”

The data indicated that the effect of CMC discourse nearly became their writing habit. The data also figured out that peer pressure also affect the frequency of using CMC discourse. The most directly effect of CMC discourse in students’ writing competence was abbreviations, for instance using informal short forms, like govt. (government) and edu. (education).

The next chapter will discuss some limitations of this research and suggest some ways to improve this research.

Chapter 4

Discussion

The research explored how CMC discourse affects students’ writing competence. According to the informal interview, CMC discourse had a big impact on their writings. The language transforms with the technology development and ways of thinking in different cultural stages. (Ong, 1967, 1982) According to Ong (1967), there are three stages in the development of cultures: oral-aural, script and electronic stage. All these stages showed the transformation of language. Ong noticed that when language transforms, it will change the way of thinking. Therefore, the ways of thinking changed were reflected in the use of language when people communicate to each other. CMC discourse, as a new format of communication, changes the way of thinking and traditional communication. Form the result of this research, the frequency of using abbreviation affects the subjects’ writing competence. Due the existence of CMC discourse brought a great impact in their thinking ways, which is a totally new concept to the subjects.

There are two controversial arguments in CMC; (i) CMC has brought negative effects and challenges to standard of language, which affect students’ writing competence indirectly; (ii) CMC existed as a new form of language and literacy. (Crystal, 2001)

If one can handle both languages which use in daily life and standard language, this would be the best situation. No one would worry about how CMC affect students’ writing competence, but it is impossible for the one unacted on CMC. The problem is the gap between standard language and language change. New form of a language would be standardizing if most people evolving and changing the usage in this way.

Due to the limitation of time and resources, this research may not reflect the true effect that CMC language brings to students’ writing. In their work, it was hard to examine precisely the effect of CMC language. Their original writing competence and English ability may also affect the performance in the writing. Different subjects have vary ability of absorb information, so some subjects may not accept new knowledge in a short period of time. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the English ability of the eight subjects is quite good when they enter UIC. Before they enter the university, they would have a three-month-holiday; most of them would not pay attention to the academic knowledge. Especially, languages, like English, Chinese, need an environment and time to improve. They need time to catch up the language skills and adapt to a difference learning environment.

Using students’ writings may not get the precise result on how CMC affect their writing competence. The result would be more persuasive if comparing their free-style writing than academic writing, sees how much CMC exists in their works. Since the subjects know the researcher expect from them, they would pretend they have influenced by CMC. In the future research, students’ free writing would have more significant results on the research question.

On the other hand, this research just focused on linguistics aspects. If it is possible, the research could include different aspects, like the level of meaning and social interaction. The research would be more all-rounded if there are different aspects. The research lasted about a month, which was too short for getting a persuasive result. If the research could last longer, maybe last for a semester, the result would be more convictive.

In future study, the experiment should last longer to show more accurate result.

The next chapter summaries findings reported in the thesis and discuss possible implications of this research.

Chapter 5

Conclusion

The previous chapter has discussed some limitations of this research and suggested some ways to improve this research.

This section summarized the findings of this research. The research question is “How CMC affect students’ writing competence in UIC.” The tables in Chapter 3 shows the changes of use CMC before and after the subjects receive the list of CMC. The frequency of using CMC has increased obviously, especially in using abbreviations. Since using abbreviations in their note could shorten their time and easier for them to catch up what the teachers talking about during the lectures.

There is a negative effect on students’ writing competence after they engage to CMC language. They can use those selected CMC to drop notes in the future. The ability of drop notes has enhanced. The research also found out that students’ English competence also affect their writing competence.

Chapter 6

Reference

Achen, C.H. (1986). The Statistical Analysis of Quasi-Experiments. London, England: University of California Press, Ltd.

Beauvois MH. (1997). Technology-enhanced Language Learning. Lincoinwood, IL: National Textbook.

Beauvois, M. & Eledge, J. (1996). Personality types and megabytes: Student attitudes toward Computer -Mediated Communication (CMC) in the language classroom [J]. CALICO Journal, Vol.13(2-3)

Bennett, W. L. (2003). New Media Power: The Internet and Global Activism. University of Washingto

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