Analysis of Individual Conversational Volatility in Tandem Telecollaboration for Second Language Learning


  • Alan Smeaton Dublin City University
  • Aparajita Dey-Plissonneau Dublin City University
  • Hyowon Lee
  • Mingming Liu Dublin City University
  • Michael Scriney Dublin City University



Language learning, telecollaboration, conversation metrics, conversational volatility


Second language (L2) learning can be enabled by tandem collaboration where students are grouped in video conference calls while learning the native language of other student(s) on the calls. This places students in an online environment where the more outgoing can actively contribute and engage in dialogue while those more shy and unsure of their second language language skills can sit back and coast through the calls. We have built and deployed the L2L system which records timings of conversational utterances from all participants in a call. We generate visualisations including participation rates and timelines for each student in each call and present these on a dashboard. Students can self-reflect and perhaps target improving their levels of engagement for subsequent calls. We have recently developed a measure called personal conversational volatility for how dynamic has been each student’s contribution to the dialogue in each call. This measures whether a student’s contribution was interactive with a mixture of interjections perhaps interrupting and agreeing with others combined with longer contributions, or whether it consisted of regular duration contributions with not much mixing. We present an analysis of conversational volatility measures of a sample of 19 individual English-speaking students from our University at lower intermediate-intermediate level (B1/B2) in their target language which was French, in each of 86 tandem telecollaboration calls over one teaching semester. Our analysis shows that students varied considerably in how their individual levels of engagement changed as their telecollaboration meetings progressed. Some students got more involved in the dialogue from one meeting to the next while others did not change their interaction levels at all.   The reasons for this are not clear from the data we have and point to a need for further investigation into the nature of online tandem telecollaboration meetings. In particular there is a need to look into the nature of the interactions and see if the choices of discussion topics were too difficult for some lower intermediate students and that may have influenced their engagement in some way.