• The evaluation of a group Business English role-play delivered via a computer mediated environment (WOLF)

      Shannon-Little, Tony; Brett, Paul (University of Wolverhampton, 2001)
      Between 90 and 110 Direct Entrant students arrive from overseas partner institutions each year and undertake the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Business Language Programme. The overall aim of the modules is to increase students’ command of English and communicative skills in order in the short term to allow them to cope well with undergraduate Business Studies, and in the longer term to enhance their communicative capabilities in an international professional environment (Assiter 1995, Ramsden 1992). In addition to the traditional communication skills of oral presentations, meetings, and report writing, today’s graduates will need to develop a familiarity with virtual written interaction—e-mail computer conferencing and document exchange—(Gruba & Lynch 1997), which will involve a recombination of a variety of skills for this new medium, including an ability to develop an appropriate range of professional relationships using the spectrum of formality styles, balanced with an unambiguous and explicit method of signalling intentions and requirements (Chapelle 1998), and an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of virtual interaction in terms of time management, all with interlocutors who are anonymous in the sense that little or no face-to-face contact has taken place. It was assumed that the sensitivity required to perform this type of interaction effectively could be fostered through a virtual, asynchronous, anonymous simulation task (Warschauer et al 1996), which recent research suggests could at the same time increase the motivation, time on task, and development of linguistic accuracy of students (Freeman & Capper 1999, Gibbs 1999, Harper & Hedberg 1997, Li 2000, Liaw 1998).