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Home Journal Index 2023-3

Students' Willingness to Communicate in the Online Synchronous One-on-One Foreign Language Classroom

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Fangzheng Zhang

Yuxiao Du

Harvard University, USA



The one-on-one session, a typical component of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) courses, transitioned to an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing Synchronous ComputerMediated Communication (SCMC). Existing literature highlights the advantages of ComputerMediated Communication (CMC) instruction over traditional face-to-face methods in augmenting learning outcomes and experiences, with SCMC particularly effective in enhancing oral proficiency. However, scant attention has been paid to whether this relative advantage of SCMC extends to bolstering students’ Willingness to Communicate (WTC). This study, therefore, investigates the aforementioned question within the context of the one-on-one session component of college-level CFL courses. Six college students enrolled in an elementary Chinese course in the U.S. participated in this research. Qualitative data were gathered through structured interviews, during which the participants articulated their perceived WTC within both instructional modes, alongside their evaluations of four specific factors: anxiety, sense of control, familiarity, and environment. The results revealed that students had mixed feelings regarding the influence of SCMC on their WTC, shedding light on the convenience associated with the online modality, as well as the efficacy and enriched interpersonal engagement of the in-person alternative. Concerning the four specific factors, participants perceived a higher sense of control during SCMC interactions, while in-person sessions garnered appreciation for their sense of familiarity and conducive environment. Responses pertaining to anxiety displayed a divergence of opinions. The paper concludes by delineating implications for future research and offering pedagogical suggestions suited to the post-pandemic educational landscape.



Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL), One-on-one session, Post-COVID-19, Synchronous ComputerMediated Communication (SCMC), Willingness to Communicate (WTC)