Chat-Line interaction and negative feedback

Document Type

Journal Article




Community Services, Education and Social Sciences






This article was originally published as: Iwasaki, J., & Oliver, R. (2003). Chat-line interaction and negative feedback. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Supplement Series, 17(1), 60-73. Original available here


In recent years researchers have investigated the use of Internet applications for language and cultural learning. While this new technology seems to have provided an educational breakthrough, relatively little linguistic research has been conducted particularly in relation to second language acquisition. Therefore the efficacy of the Internet applications not just for cultural studies or the expansion of knowledge, but also for second/foreign language acquisition remains uncertain. This study explores communicative interactions between native speakers (NSs) and non-native speakers (NNSs) of Japanese. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was chosen as the setting for this study, because of the resemblance of chat line interactions to verbal exchanges. The linguistic focus in this study was specifically on one form of corrective feedback, namely implicit negative feedback (NF), which provides information to language learners about what is unacceptable in target language (e.g. Long, 1996). It has been claimed that NF plays an important facilitative role in language development. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate whether NSs provide NF to their NNS interlocutors in interactions during chat line conversations, and whether the NNS’s used this feedback in their subsequent production. The participants were NNSs and NSs of Japanese, formed into 12 gender-matched dyads. Each pair had free on-line “conversation” in three separate sessions. The results show that the proportion of NSs’ NF to the number of NNSs’ non-target-like turns was . lower than that found in the previous studies based on face to face verbal interactions. Even so NF was provided, and it was used – however it remains unclear as to whether or not on-line interactions elicit sufficient NF for acquisition to occur.