Web-Based Synchronous Speaking Platforms: Students’ Attitudes and Practices


  •  Abdurrazzag Alghammas    

Abstract

This study employed the interaction hypothesis (Long, 1983) to investigate attitudes towards different English accents (i.e., American and British) of 40 male undergraduate EFL students majoring in English. It explored the reasons for such views, as well as identifying the accent the participants found most effective for communication. The study also examined students’ attitudes to online speaking by means of a Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication (SCMC) website known as ‘Cambly’. Students were granted free access to the Cambly website for live interaction with Native English Speakers (NES). Each student talked for 15 minutes with an American and British interlocutor, enabling the researcher to recognize the common topics appearing within these conversations. Data were collected using a mixed-method approach, employing a web-based survey of closed and open-ended questions, alongside the recorded conversations. The key findings reveal that students enjoyed the SCMC conversation and also found it beneficial for improving their speaking skills. Furthermore, SCMC allowed students to choose the topic and negotiate meaning with native speakers during a lengthy conversation. This study establishes that students preferred American to British accents and felt more confident in understanding American speakers. The study concludes by highlighting the practical implications for teaching speaking skills, also suggesting new directions for future research.



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