Enhancing ESL Learners Speaking Skills through Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum

  •  Nadzrah Abu Bakar    
  •  Hafizah Latiff    
  •  Afendi Hamat    


Communicating orally in a second or foreign language such as English can be a difficult task especially for the low proficiency learners as they may lack the confidence and feel shy and apprehensive when interacting verbally in the target language. This may hold them back from expressing themselves vocally though they are fully aware that in order to be fluent in the target language, they need to practise speaking not only in the classroom but also outside the classroom. This paper discusses the use of an asynchronous online discussion forum (AODF) as a communication tool to assist the low proficiency ESL learners to build their confidence and practise using the target language orally. As an online discussion forum, the Multimedia Enhance Discussion Forum (MEDiF) was specifically designed to be used by a selected group of low proficiency ESL learners at tertiary level for one academic semester. This online forum allows the learners to audio and video-record their discussions, listen to the recorded discussions and respond to their friends’ ideas and opinions. Interviews and observations of the discussions on the MEDiF were conducted to gather data. The findings generally indicate positive responses from the ESL learners although there were also some obstacles faced by them while utilizing the MEDiF.

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