Videoconferencing: Developing Students’ Communicative Competence

Ruby Vurdien

Abstract


Recently, there has been a growth in the popularity of the application of synchronous tools in the language classroom with a view to developing students’ communicative competence. For instance, desktop videoconferencing can provide students with the opportunity to practise and enhance their communication skills outside the classroom setting. With this in mind, the present study, which lasted for a semester, aimed to explore how   (a) videoconferencing can help students to develop their speaking skills and (b) what students consider to be the most important outcomes of their learning experience. This was by means of task-based activities performed on an online platform via the Internet application, Zoom. The thirty EFL participants (levels C1 and C2) were divided into two groups, experimental (n = 18) and control (n = 12). The latter performed their bi-weekly tasks in their face-to-face classes, whilst the former engaged with their partners via videoconferencing. The findings indicate that the students who interacted virtually on videoconferencing outperformed those who interacted face-to-face. Despite certain drawbacks, videoconferencing can be deemed a convenient tool to motivate students to build up their confidence, negotiate meaning and construct knowledge, thereby enhancing their communicative competence.

 Keywords: videoconferencing, speaking skills, face-to-face, computer-mediated communication, communicative competence


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