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Keywords:

  • willingness to communicate;
  • online chat;
  • anxiety;
  • power balance;
  • negotiation

This study compared the experiences of small groups of female Japanese university students communicating in English to solve tasks using online chat with those who solved the same tasks in face-to-face settings using spoken language. The groups were compared using a counterbalanced research design so that the nine groups consisting of four participants each took part in solving tasks in both the online mode and the traditional face-to-face setting. Data gathered from questionnaires, along with an analysis of the discourse produced by students, led to the conclusion that under the conditions in the study, online chatting provided a more comfortable environment, enhancing students’ willingness to communicate. Regarding benefits to the language teacher, online chat provides another fruitful tool to enhance interaction in the target language.

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