Please cite as:
Son, J.-B., & O'Neill, S. (1999). Collaborative e-mail exchange: A pilot study of peer editing. Multimedia-Assisted Language Learning, 2 (2), 69-87.

Note: The authors wish to express their gratitude to all participants of this e-mail project.

Collaborative E-mail Exchange:
A Pilot Study of Peer Editing

Jeong-Bae Son (The University of Southern Queensland)
Shirley O'Neill (Griffith University)


This paper describes a pilot study of collaborative e-mail exchanges between two universities in Australia and Korea. A special focus is given to the aspects of the teaching of English as a foreign language. With selected themes and formats, Australian students learning Korean sent e-mail messages in Korean, and Korean students learning English sent e-mail messages in English. Student pairs collaborated through the process of peer editing of each other's writing. This approach to foreign language learning was highly valued by both Australian and Korean students. The analysis of FL learners' written texts provided an insight into second/foreign language development in writing. L1 users' feedback written texts showed evidence of rewriting with substantial changes or minor editing depending on the degree to which texts reflected the use of standard English. Recommendations are made to improve future use of this approach from both a learning and research perspective.


As educational tools, computers have played diverse roles in language instruction. Among successful models of using computers in teaching a foreign language, the use of

- 69 -

electronic communication is now being considered as a useful activity for providing learners with opportunities and motivations for real communication (Kern, 1996; Warschauer, 1995). As the main goal of most language learners is to communicate in the language they learn, communication via computer-mediated systems seems to offer students the closest thing to being in the foreign country without actually being there (Mathiesen, 1992).

The most popular tool for electronic communication is electronic mail (e-mail). E-mail is fast, convenient, inexpensive, and can be stored, modified and printed. It can transfer long or short messages across the world to other people connected to the Internet. This world-wide electronic communication channel accelerates the traditional pen pal process (Lunde, 1990). Through electronic pen pal correspondence, e-mail can be a medium for cross-cultural exchanges (Kern, 1996; Warschauer, 1995).

The above things being taken into account, a small-scale pilot project was set up for collaborative e-mail exchanges. The project was conducted between undergraduate students at two universities in Australia and Korea in September 1998. The main aim of the project was to investigate the potential of the setting up of e-mail exchanges on the Internet for improving the learning of Korean by Australian students and the learning of English by Korean students at the same time. With selected themes and formats, Korean students learning English sent e-mail messages in English, and Australian students learning Korean sent e-mail messages in Korean. By establishing peer review procedures, the exchange gave the students the opportunity to experience task-based e-mail exchanges with peers in the target language. With a special focus on the aspects of the teaching of English as a foreign language (EFL), this paper describes briefly the pilot project and discusses pedagogical aspects of peer editing in e-mail exchanges, based on analyses of the students' writing and responses to an opinion survey questionnaire (see Son, 1999, for a discussion of the aspects of the teaching of Korean as a foreign language).


With the widespread attention given to computer-mediated communication (CMC), a number of e-mail exchange projects have been conducted in foreign language education. Previous research on e-mail exchanges suggests that task-based cross-cultural communication

- 70 -

has the potential to improve students' language skills and cultural awareness (Barson, 1991; Cononelos & Oliva, 1993; Gray & Stockwell, 1998; Kern, 1996; Lunde, 1990; Sanaoui & Lapkin, 1992; Warschauer, 1995), and to foster student autonomy (Barson, Frommer & Schwartz, 1993; Peterson, 1997; Soh & Soon, 1991; Sayers, 1993; Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts, 1996).

For example, Lunde (1990) reported on a practical course, called Computer-Assisted Composition in Japanese and Chinese, which has been offered at the University of Toronto, Canada. The course gave students much practice in composing text in their target language. Students studying Japanese were given the option to use electronic mail to correspond with their peers in Japan (namely students studying English at the University of Tokyo) to exchange ideas and information. The goals of this course were to motivate students to use their target language, to enhance the cultural and intellectual component of foreign language study, and to improve students' ability to read Chinese characters. Students who participated in the e-mail exchange showed "marked improvement in their character production, reading comprehension, and word processing skills in their target language" (Lunde, 1990, p. 76).

Barson (1991) described an electronic communication project between two French classes at Stanford University and Harvard University. The two classes worked collaboratively via e-mail to produce a newspaper. Barson found that students benefited from the process of collaboration with peers, their involvement in meaningful, more authentic activity and gained greater insight into the writing process. Sanaoui and Lapkin (1992) presented a content-based course which connected high school students of French in Toronto with native speakers in Montreal. They reported that students improved their French writing skills and broadened their cultural awareness.

Such research studies also offer teachers guidelines on the organisation of e-mail projects. For instance, Avots (1991) proposes that teachers need to:
(1) set clear, curriculum-based objectives;
(2) establish a time line with a definite ending;
(3) respect the needs of members of the partner classroom, being sensitive to cultural differences;
(4) involve students in the technology;
(5) remain flexible; and
(6) evaluate the outcome, involving students in the evaluation process (p. 129).

- 71 -

Of these points, the first, which is the most important factor for meaningful e-mail communication in foreign language classrooms, is strongly supported in the following argument:

Student collaboration on e-mail is very successful if the students have a goal. If they don't, if their purpose is simply to chat and find out about each other, the communication breaks down as soon as one side of the conversation has something more important to do. (Extract from an e-mail discussion of TESLCA-L, David Tillyer, 5 Oct. 1998)
This indicates that e-mail exchanges should be task-based and should pay attention to content to promote collaborative interaction and maximise participation and learning.


1. Subjects

Two female students in the third year course of the Korean language program at an Australian university were each randomly assigned to one of two female students in the second year course of the Department of English Education at a Korean university (mean age 20, ranging from 19 to 21 years). Each pair of students was introduced to each other in the first e-mail message exchange. The participating students gave their formal consent to participate and completed a background information questionnaire. All students reported that they had previous experience with computers, mainly for word processing, either at home or at school, and they generally liked working with computers. With the exception of one Australian student, they all had previous experience in learning other foreign languages such as Japanese or French.

2. Materials and Procedure

A handout was distributed to all students which described the overall process of e-mail exchanges and the specific tasks to be completed including preparatory work. Essay topics for writing tasks were specified and actual e-mail exchanges took place during a 10 day period. During this period, the students were requested to write and send

- 72 -

five messages in total via e-mail. First, they were required to write and send three different essays, one in their native language and two in their target language. Then, they were required to edit the latter two texts received from their partner and send them back along with a feedback message. Australian students completed these tasks in a PC lab during normal class time whereas Korean students did the tasks in a computer room or at home during their own study time. At the end of the project, a post-questionnaire was administered to all students to investigate students' views on the e-mail exchange strategy and their attitudes toward the use of e-mail for foreign language learning.


1. Exchanged Written Texts

In order to help the students get to know each other, the students were requested to introduce themselves with their first message. It was written in the students' native language (i.e., English or Korean), so that they could not only describe themselves without any difficulty but also provide their partners with reading practice. The following self-introduction, written in English, is an example:

Hi! How are you? My name is 000 and I have been learning Korean at 000 University in 000 for nearly three years (but as you will see, my Korean is pretty bad!). I am studying Modern Asian Studies and my majors are Korean language and Asian history. At the end of this semester I will have completed my three-year degree and maybe next year I will do Honours. My favourite subject is Korean language but I find the authentic material very difficult to understand because Korean is so different from English. Do you have the same difficulty in learning English?
I live in 000 with my family. I have an older sister (who is 29, Mary), an older brother (27, Tom), a younger sister (19, Ann) and of course, a Mum and Dad. I am 21 years old and I have orange hair but all of my other relatives have brown hair! My favourite pastime is shopping with my friends but, believe it or not I also enjoy studying and going to my lessons at uni everyday.
I hope you can understand what I've written! I look forward to reading your introduction!
Talk to you again soon!

- 73 -

The above message was written by Australian Student 1 (AS1) and sent to Korean Student 1 (KS1) on the first day of the project. A day was allowed for turn-around time. Thus AS1 received her partner's first e-mail response by the second day of the project.

In each writing activity the students shared some commonality of meaning. The writing of an introductory task using a theme common to all (writing about self) ensured the recipient would be able to anticipate possible questions and vocabulary. The topics selected for the second and third essays were 'A movie or book that I would like to recommend' (film/book report) and 'After 20 years, I will ...' (narrative regarding their future). After receiving their partners' first message, the students were asked to write on these topics in their target language using a minimum 150 words for each text. For the fourth and fifth messages, the students were encouraged to correct their partners' second and third essays from a native speaker's point of view and send them back with their comments and suggestions for appropriately editing the essays. In the e-mail responses, the original texts were placed first, followed by the revised texts and comments. The focus of the analysis in the present study is the comparison between each foreign language (FL) student's written text and the first language (L1) student's feedback text and accompanying feedback comments.

1) Film report

The following e-mail texts exchanged between AS1 and KS1 exemplify the outcomes for the film report.

KS1 to AS1 (Original text by FL Learner KS1 - Film report)

Frederic Back
It is really a nice movie. It is rare work having unique color like painting of Monk and spreading swell like painting of India ink. In addition, it is a cartoon film. In spite of a cartoon film it is high state of work enough to awarding the work prize. It is said that Frederic Back who made this movie lost his eye for doing his best.
The stranger tired of long journey in isolated mountain is treated water and food after he met a shepherd. The shepherd raised the sheep in the place isolated from the society and everyday he plants seed of good tree. When the humanism disappear in World War I, the shepherd plants trees alone in the mountain no body knows. He has been doing this work silently by himself. Who made him do this work? No, he does this work by himself.

- 74 -

The stranger deeply impressed on the shepherd drop in the mountain after World War II, he is amazed luxuriant forest covered with the devastated mountain.
People only enjoy the luxuriant forest. Nobody knows the efforts of the shepherd. The shepherd also enjoy this, he doesn't expect the reward.
This movie shows that silently planting the life given yourself is the most valuable thing. I'd like to recommend this movie to who want this impression. 'Real' can get after planting effort.

AS1 to KS1 (Feedback text by L1 User AS1 - Film report)

It is a really good movie. It is an animated production of notably high quality. It has been said that Frederic Back lost his sight during the making of this film as a result of extreme care he took. It is a production of prize-winning calibre.
The story follows a traveller who, exhausted from his long journey, meets a shepherd. The shepherd provides the lone traveller with food and water and the traveller learns of the shepherd's life. He is very impressed to discover that the shepherd has single-handedly replanted the forests, once barren, after World War II. The shepherd grazes his sheep in the isolated, mountainous area and everyday he plants the seed of one more tree. He works alone, day after day, receiving no recognition for his efforts but not expecting any either. His only reward lies in the enjoyment of other people when they see the luxuriant forest.
I'd like to recommend this movie to anyone who can appreciate the importance of other life forms beside their own.

AS1 to KS1 (Feedback comments by L1 User AS1 - Film report)

Dear 000,
I think that your English is very good. I could figure out exactly what you were trying to say but as you can see, in order to make it read as a good English passage, a few changes had to be made. I think that the main problem is that you are thinking in Korean and then writing your ideas down in English rather than thinking in English and writing in English. I'm sure my Korean suffers in the same way. The parts of your passage which I omitted in the corrected version were those which I thought that were not appropriate to the English language.
I really enjoyed reading this passage and I look to going through the next one!
See you next time,

- 75 -

Examination of the two texts shows differences in their level of unity and coherence. As L1 User AS1 commented, FL Learner KS1 seemed to think and construct ideas mainly in Korean while writing an English essay. This is evident in the awkwardness of some sentence constructions and vocabulary. In the description of the film L1 User AS1's response reflected a substantial change to the text as a whole. It comprised fewer words, just over half, and so condensed FL Learner KS1's work, although some new information was incorporated (e.g., 'and the traveller learns of the shepherd's life'). The new version provided FL Learner KS1 with feedback which could be described as a rewrite of the original text. This meant that FL Learner KS1 did not receive feedback equivalent to an improved draft of the original text conducive with the typical process of drafting a written text.

The analysis of the changes calls into a question of the value of using a rewrite approach. Comparison of the two texts suggests that during the process of re-writing certain positive features of the original text may be omitted. Thus the rewrite approach may prevent valuable acknowledgment of the value to the FL Learner of such positive features. In addition, unless the L1 User is highly skilled in the target language, the emergent re-written text may not provide the best model for the FL Learner. For example, FL Learner KS1's description 'It is (a) rare work having unique colour like (a) painting of (a) Monk' is replaced with 'It is an animated product of notably high quality'. This occurs again when FL Learner KS1's narrative 'It is said that Frederic Back who made this movie lost his eye for doing his best (work)' is replaced with 'It has been said that Frederic Back lost his sight during the making of this film as a result of (the) extreme care he took'.

Further analysis suggests that an annotated improved draft that closely builds on the FL Learner KS1's text may provide a more useful feedback to the FL Learner. In this case feedback could have focused on identifying common interlanguage errors (see Tarone, Cohen & Dumas, 1983, for interlanguage terminology) such as omission of the indefinite article, changing present simple tense to past and corrections to use possessive personal pronouns and correct spatial and temporal reference (e.g., 'across isolated mountains' rather than 'in isolated mountain', 'impressed by the shepherd' rather than 'impressed on the shepherd' and 'since' rather than 'after'). It would appear that more detailed feedback would be beneficial, for example, as follows:

- 76 -

FL Learner KS1: In spite of a cartoon film it is high state of work enough to awarding the work prize.
L1 User AS1: It is an animated production of notably high quality. ... It is a production of prize-winning calibre.
Improved draft: In spite of it being a cartoon film it is a high quality work good enough to be awarded a prize.

FL Learner KS1: The stranger deeply impressed on the shepherd drop in the mountain after WW II.
L1 User AS1: He is very impressed to discover that the shepherd has single-handedly replanted the forests, once barren, after WW II.
Improved draft: The stranger was deeply impressed by the work the shepherd had done on the mountain since WW II.

The L1 User AS1's letter which accompanied the feedback version revealed a positive and constructive response, complementing FL Learner KS1's ability to write in the target language. L1 User AS1 acknowledged that she was able to understand the gist of the text but made changes to 'make it read as a good English passage'. She also made a point of identifying any problems relating to interlanguage considerations and showed empathy towards FL Learner KS1 by stating 'I'm sure my Korean suffers in the same way'. While noting that some of FL Learner KS1's text had been omitted because it was 'not appropriate to the English Language', L1 User AS1 wrote a positive and encouraging conclusion 'I really enjoyed reading this passage and I look forward to going through the next one!'.

Similar observations were made when the exchanges between Australian Student 2 (AS2) and Korean Student 2 (KS2) were examined for the film report. However, in this case the FL learner demonstrated a good command of the English language in terms of sentence construction, use of cohesive ties and shift between use of first and third person. Other observations included a tendency to start a sentence with 'And' and to require clarification on word meaning (e.g., 'survive' versus 'rescue'). In this case L1 User AS2 was able to respond by minor editing for most of the text. The analysis also highlighted the need to ensure participants are familiar with the theme in question both from the writer's and respondent's point of view.

- 77 -

2) Futures narrative

The texts below exemplify the outcome of the e-mail exchanges for the futures narrative.

KS2 to AS2 (Original text by FL Learner KS2 - Futures narrative)

After 20 years, as you know, I shall be 41 in Korean age. In that future, what will I do? Well, I don't know exactly, but I'm sure I'll become a wife and mother, because I think the age is too late to live alone. And I'll be an English teacher as you know my major is English Education, and I also want to work as an interpreter as a part time job. Actually, I wanted to be an announcer which I have not given up yet, but I know teacher and announcer is very different job, so it is very difficult to prepare both of them at a time. I've thought continuously which is better for me, and I haven't decided yet, but I think teacher will be more beneficial to have a time to bring out children and work for home. I wonder if you understand it, but in Korea, up to this time, women has an important role in making home.
As a teacher, a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law, I will very busy after 20 years, but I want to have a time for making me newly such like learning Korean musical instrument, etc. And I want to have intelligentic image like Odri Hepburn (I don't know the spell of her name exactly.) who was American movie star.
I think these things above will be my character after 20 years, of course, it can be changed but I believe these aspects and trial of me for that will be base on making home happy.
from 000 in Korea
ps: I wonder if you can understand this typing, because I'm not very good at working computer program. I'm sorry if you can't understand this.

AS2 to KS2 (Feedback text by L1 User AS2 - Futures narrative)

After 20 years, as you know, I shall be 41 in Korean years. In the future, what will I do? Well, I don't know exactly, but I'm sure I'll become a wife and mother because at that age it is too old to still be living alone. And I will be an English Teacher, as you know my major is English Education and I also want to work as an Interpreter for a part-time job.
Actually, I wanted to be an Announcer. I have not given up on it yet but I know that being a Teacher and an Announcer are two totally different jobs so it is very

- 78 -

difficult to prepare for both of them at the same time. I've thought continuously about which would be better for me, and I haven't decided yet but I think being a teacher will be more beneficial in that you have the time to bring up children and work from home.
As a teacher, a wife, a Mother, and a daughter-in-law, I will be very busy after 20 years but I want to have time for something new like learning a Korean musical instrument etc. And I want to have an intelligent image like Audrey Hepburn (I don't know exactly how to spell her name). She was an American movie star.
I think these things above will be my character after 20 years. Of course, it can be changed but I believe that with these aspects I will have a good base for making a happy home.
P.S. I wonder if you can understand this typing because I'm not very good at working this computer program. I'm sorry if you can't understand this.

AS2 to KS2 (Feedback comments by L1 User AS2 - Futures narrative)

To 000,
Thank you for being my email partner. It was very interesting! It was very helpful and good practice for me to be able to write to you in Korean and I'm looking forward to receiving your corrections on my letters to see how much I got wrong!!!
Your english is very good. Do you want to continue writing to each other even though this program is finished? That would be good.
Ok, look forward to hearing from you soon.
Bye from 000

Again, further analysis of participants' responses showed a similar situation. In the improvements to FL Learner KS1's description of her daily routine L1 User AS1 made substantial changes, while also omitting important constructive features of FL Learner KS1's text (e.g., cohesive tie because), adding to the writer's meaning and also possibly misinterpreting in part. By contrast, L1 User AS2 made minimal changes, typically making minor edits in an attempt to preserve FL Learner KS2's original text. However, a close examination also shows that L1 User AS2 omitted to edit FL Learner KS2's statement 'I wonder if you understand it, but in Korea, up to this time, women have had an important role in making home' or to come to grips with part of the concluding words 'and trial of me'. These statements reflect the writer's cultural identity and are

- 79 -

representative of the problems faced by such students learning English as a foreign language. Peer editing provides a valuable opportunity to deal with these important aspects of interlanguage in writing. Sample alternative edits appear below:

FL Learner KS1: When I come to my country, I hope to write some essays. I want to tell the other people my unforgettable experience.
L1 User AS1: I hope some day to be able to record my experiences so that other people might benefit from them.
Improved draft: When I return to my country I hope to write some essays to tell other people about my unforgettable experiences.

FL Learner KS2: but I want to have a time for making me newly such like learning Korean musical instrument, etc.
L1 User AS2: but I want to have time for something new like learning a Korean musical instrument etc.
Improved draft: but I want to have time for learning new things such as a Korean musical instrument etc.

Other obvious corrections referred to choice of verb, return rather than go or come, and difficulties associated with tense. There is also evidence of vocabulary development through the e-mail strategy. For example, L1 User AS1 replaces FL Learner KS1's reference to 'humble mind' in 'I want to live my life with humble mind' with 'a modest life' in 'I want to live a modest life' though it could be argued 'with humility' would have been more appropriate.

It also becomes clear that as the FL Learner becomes more proficient in the target language there is less need for the L1 User to make substantial changes, omissions and additions or different interpretations. Thus, it appears, as the FL Learner's written English approaches standard form, the L1 User tends to apply more of an editing approach rather than a rewrite approach. A major implication for future research as well as for the improvement of teaching is the need to build in (1) more interaction between students to discuss and question and (2) support materials to assist the rewrite and editing processes. This suggests that subsequent research into the benefits of using e-mail as an approach to improve writing could be developed to accommodate these

- 80 -

tentative findings focusing more tightly on teaching/learning strategies possibly geared to a theme-based approach to control for vocabulary. This would facilitate provision of rules or guidelines about L1 User responses in relation to FL Learners' program entry levels and would ensure models of the written texts are available. Such model written texts would provide a basis for all participants to improve their writing. This could include a follow-up sharing of several improved texts and discussion which could also generate course reading matter.

It is of further interest to note that both the Australian and Korean students made some minor errors in their feedback revised texts which may confuse the non-native speaking recipients. These included some spelling errors, typing mistakes and language patterns more applicable to spoken conversations. These outcomes were discussed with the students as part of their learning experiences. More in-depth analyses produced data important for further research in the area and to improve teaching/learning experiences in such e-mail exchange strategies.

2. Post-questionnaire

The analysis of the responses to the post-questionnaire showed students were positive toward this language learning experience. Section 1 of the questionnaire elicited students' ratings of various aspects of the learning experience (seven questions). In Section 2 of the questionnaire the students responded to open-ended questions about their learning experience (six questions). Questions 1, 2 and 3 in Section 1 were related to students' general impressions on the use of e-mail. Results indicate that all students seemed to enjoy the e-mail exchanges and find the e-mail activities helpful for learning the target language although one student, who had no previous experience in e-mail, found that using e-mail was somewhat difficult. Questions 4 and 5 were asked to elicit students' reactions to the efficiency of the e-mail exchanges. All students appreciated their partners' corrections of their original essays and agreed that the tasks selected for the project were useful. Questions 6 and 7 asked the students to indicate whether they would like to be involved in continuous e-mail exchanges. All students strongly agreed that they wanted to have more e-mail exchanges with their language partners and other people. These results suggest that e-mail exchanges have the potential to develop students' interest and motivation for their learning and, eventually, enhance foreign language learning through presentation of an enhanced communicative teaching methodology.

- 81 -

In the open-ended questions in Section 2, which were answered in English (although there were no specific directions for doing so), several comments relevant to the notion of autonomous learning were found:

I tried to type without looking at the Korean keyboard so that I would learn how to type quicker.

First I read the whole passage through a few times to make sure I knew what my partner was trying to say and then I tried to polish it so that no English speaker would realise that it was written by a foreign student which involved some major adjustments.

I tried to understand what they were trying to express and then thought about how I would say it.

The students had favourable attitudes toward e-mail exchanges, as indicated by their responses:
I think it's very effective - it's fun and constructive - we are actually doing something which benefits not only ourselves but someone else at the same time.

I thought it was an excellent idea. It's a shame we didn't have a couple of weeks longer to use it.

I think it is a great idea and actually it was. It has advantages that are even faster than letter, so we can exchange messages more frequently, and that doesn't need to go to a post office. These reasons could make me more comfortable to write something.

There were also comments on how they felt about the e-mail exchanges before and after the project:
I thought it was an excellent idea before and now that I've done it. I'm sorry that we were only allocated one week for this activity.

I was worried it would take me too long to learn how to type in Hangul, but I was surprised how quickly my typing speed improved.

- 82 -

I felt somewhat strange, but excited to meet a foreign friend by e-mails, so I was really looking forward to starting the project. For a week, I always waited for answers. After finishing the project, I regretted that I could have written them more faithfully, however, I'm very satisfied with this experience.

Before I started e-mail exchanges, frankly speaking, it imposed burden on me. Because it was the first time to exchange e-mail. After I exchanged tasks, I'd like to continue the project. I think it is the best way to recognize the differences between Korean and English.

Interestingly, two students made suggestions for further e-mail exchange tasks:
I think that by 3rd year we should be touch-typing all of our essays and worksheets. And, rather than just writing two night-before passages we should have a certain number of tasks to complete through the semester, perhaps with no deadlines - we would have to organize things with our partners so there would have to be effective communication.

I think common interest is important to relationship. For example, I think it is better to fix a topic on "Impression from the same book or movie" in the message K2. With that task, I can learn the difference of the culture as well as the language.

Finally, the students expressed a strong appreciation for the opportunity to participate:
This exercise has given my language study a new lease of life - it seems to me to be a pretty big deal to be able to produce printed material. Thank you.

Thank you for giving me a good chance to meet a new friend.

Thank you for offering me this good opportunity.

In summary, the students showed positive attitudes toward e-mail exchanges with native speakers. They expressed the view that the project had substantial benefits for their foreign language learning over and above the usual approach. There were indications that the project facilitated language learning with the enhancement of student autonomy and motivation.

- 83 -


Clearly to be effective learning activities e-mail exchanges need to comprise well structured and meaningful tasks for students. Although in the pilot stage this research strongly suggests that peer editing tasks can be collaborative and facilitate students' writing and productivity. While the present study was conducted with a small number of students for a short period and the short time frame did not warrant attempting to measure improvements in language proficiency, the findings show the value of e-mail exchanges with peers in accomplishing language tasks and providing opportunities for interaction with native speakers. They indicate that e-mail activities may provide an important source for motivating language learners collaborating in networks.

The findings also suggest that e-mail activities would be facilitated by students participating in an orientation stage which would focus on use of the e-mail system, typing skills and the peer editing approach. Esling (1991) argues that there are practical reasons for introducing computer-assisted language learning (CALL) into a language program starting with word processing rather than other applications such as tutorials or simulations. One reason is "the functional role of the writing task" (Esling, 1991, p. 122). He also points out that the concepts of sound-letter correspondences cannot be avoided by a foreign language learner when the task focuses on allowing students to recognise numerous possible orthographic symbols and their combinations in the target language. In addition, word processing skills are practically required in many workplaces where the target language is used. Thus typing skills seem to be a requirement for purposeful writing on the computer.

With regard to error correction, it is possible to conduct comparative assessments of students' writing performance during networking activities. This allows one to look into the effects of the use of computer on students' choices of learning strategies or on their styles of interaction with target language speakers (Esling, 1991) and the development of writing in second language acquisition. Factors like unexpected responses or inappropriate responses by native speakers to a text can make learners aware of language usage which they had not previously detected (Mathiesen, 1992). In this respect, students themselves can be reviewers of their partners' writing and help each other in editing the writing. Through e-mail exchanges, thus, students can be engaged in reading and writing actively and analytically.

- 84 -

The teacher as a facilitator can allow students to analyse their own errors, learn from their mistakes, and adapt their strategies (Markley, 1992). During e-mail activities, the teacher can be an observer or a mediator to be called upon when students need him/her. Students are encouraged to assume more responsibility for their own progress and move toward independence as writers. In an e-mail project, the teacher's main role is to explain objectives, introduce materials and procedures, and then monitor each student's progress while giving appropriate feedback on the student's work. In the case of team-teaching projects, the teacher also has a role to collaborate with other teachers of classes in different places so they can work together, sharing information to improve their teaching methods.

Although it is difficult to generalise conclusions because of the small number of the students and particular situations in both sites, overall, the findings of this study suggest that the e-mail project helped promote language learning and cultural awareness in the two respective countries, improve language learning methods that included reading and writing practice in the target language and facilitating further collaborative work between those involved. The results of the study also showed that the students enjoyed the e-mail exchange work and demonstrated a favourable attitude toward the use of e-mail for foreign language learning. The analysis of FL Learners' written texts provided an insight into second/foreign language development in writing. L1 User's feedback written texts showed evidence of applying rewrite strategies resulting in substantial changes as opposed to editing, when the FL Learner's English was at a low level. It appears that the more competent the FL Learner in the target language the more likely it will be that the feedback text will have applied an editing procedure which builds on the original text.

It is recommended that future research focuses on specific writing task development using a theme-based or genre-based approach to allow further investigation of aspects of pedagogy and ways of dealing with interlanguage errors. This could also involve teaching through proof reading and editing strategies. Future research also needs to examine students' improvement in the target language through the use of such strategies involving a much greater number of students over a longer period of time.

- 85 -


Avots, J. (1991). Linking the foreign language classroom to the world. In J. K. Phillips (Ed.), Building bridges and making connections (pp. 122-153). Middlebury, VT: Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Barson, J. (1991). The virtual classroom is born: What now? In B. F. Freed (Ed.), Foreign language acquisition research and the classroom (pp. 365-383). Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath.

Barson, J., Frommer, J., & Schwartz, M. (1993). Foreign language learning using e-mail in a task-oriented perspective: Interuniversity experiments in communication and collaboration. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4, 565-584.

Cononelos, T., & Oliva, M. (1993). Using computer networks to enhance foreign language/culture education. Foreign Language Annals, 26, 527-534.

Esling, J. H. (1991). Researching the effects of networking: Evaluating the spoken and written discourse generated by working with CALL. In P. Dunkel (Ed.), Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Testing (pp. 111-131). New York: Newbury House.

Gray, R., & Stockwell, G. (1998). Using computer mediated communication for language and culture acquisition. ON-CALL, 12(3), 2-9.

Kern, R. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Using e-mail exchanges to explore personal histories in two cultures. In M. Warschauer (Ed.), Telecollaboration in foreign language learning: Proceedings of the Hawaii symposium (pp. 105-119). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii.

Lunde, K. R. (1990). Using electronic mail as a medium for foreign language study and instruction. CALICO Journal, 3(3), 68-78.

Markley, P. (1992). Creating independent ESL writers & thinkers: Computer networking for composition. CAELL Journal, 3(2), 6-12.

Mathiesen, A. B. (1992). Electronic communication media and second language learning. ON-CALL, 7(3), 15-20.

Peterson, M. (1997). Language teaching and networking. System, 25, 29-37.

Sanaoui, R., & Lapkin, S. (1992). A case study of an FSL senior secondary course integrating computer networking. Canadian Modern Language Review, 48, 525-552.

- 86 -

Sayers, D. (1993). Distance team teaching and computer learning networks. TESOL Journal, 3(1), 19-23.

Soh, B. L., & Soon, Y. P. (1991). English by e-mail: Creating a global classroom via the medium of computer technology. ELT Journal, 45, 287-292.

Son, J. -B. (1999). Using e-mail exchanges to enhance Korean language learning and teaching. In D. -S. Park, & C. -S. Suh (Eds.), Proceedings of the First Korean Studies Association of Australasia (pp. 271-278). Sydney, Australia: KSAA.

Tarone, E., Cohen, A. D., & Dumas, G. (1983). A closer look at some interlanguage terminology: A framework for communication strategies. In C. Faerch, & G. Kasper (Eds.), Strategies in interlanguage communication (pp. 4-14). New York: Longman.

Warschauer, M. (1995). E-mail for English teaching: Bringing the Internet and computer learning networks into the language classroom. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Warschauer, M., Turbee, L., & Roberts, B. (1996). Computer learning networks and student empowerment. System, 24, 1-14.

- 87 -

| Dr. Son's Home Page |