The effectiveness of using Wimba Voice Tools in foreign language instruction

Yao, Lingli
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In the past two decades, text-based synchronous and asynchronous communication tools have been used as teaching tools in foreign language classes and have been researched intensively for their pedagogical implications. Although their benefits have been identified in foreign language instruction, these benefits are mainly limited in affecting learners' reading and writing skills due to the tools' text-based nature. Since listening and speaking skills are also essential to language learners, studies on implications of newly emerging audio-based communication tools are needed. This paper describes an action research project conducted in a Chinese course at Iowa State University (ISU) where an audio-based technology called Wimba was incorporated. This study explored how the new technology was integrated in the foreign language instruction and what its advantages and disadvantages were. Results from student survey, students' interviews and instructor's interview indicate that teaching strategies using Wimba can help improve students' listening and speaking skills. It can also motivate students to practice listening and speaking more often after class. There is no doubt that more research is needed to investigate the audio-based communication technology. This present pilot project serves as a case study to inform both the researcher and ISU foreign language instructors.

Curriculum and instruction;Education (Curriculum and instructional technology);Curriculum and instructional technology;