This week in our Throw Back Thursday post we’ll be reminding you of how far chat rooms have come along ever since the first AOL chat rooms. It was in the early 1990’s that AOL first became popular among computer owners, but let’s face it, there weren’t nearly as many computer owners back then. It was in 1996 that AOL grew so big that it became the leader in the industry and was later able to reach over 30 million worldwide users.
When this flat rate was introduced, new boards were formed in the chat rooms and topics of all genres were being shared.
People who had trouble socializing in real life would meet new people online, relationships were formed and teens discussed their favorite bands. During the recent conference at Bilkent University, an issue that was repeatedly mentioned was the dilemma of getting students to use language in real time situations.
Firstly, they allow learners to interact in an authentic context with native speakers without being restricted by location. Another advantage is that students have the opportunity to observe the language used by native speakers. Learners’ keyboard skills in English are usually slow which means that they often miss part of the conversation thread.
Furthermore, the way the conversation scrolls down the screen requires the participant to read text very quickly.
Chat room participants also often use slang and abbreviations which EFL learners may not be familiar with. Native speakers using chat rooms may discuss topics which are culture specific to the English speaking world, or inappropriate or offensive to some learner groups. The author would like to mention that he has used chat rooms in his own language learning, and has found most of the advantages mentioned are generally realistic. Alright, so some of you may still be too young to remember the days where you had to plug your computer into a phone jack and couldn’t use both the phone and internet simultaneously, but for those of you who do remember those days, you most likely remember AOL.
Over the past few years, the CEO of AOL has been reinventing the entire company’s business plan and they have turned into investors rather than providing social media platforms.

Nonetheless, AOL introduced the world of online chat along with actual graphic run video games rather than text based games. The limit of people per room was set at 23 and when the 24th person would join it would create a new lobby. What caused this peak in users was when they introduced a monthly rate to access their chat rooms. Whether it was sports, arts, music, television shows or even the news, AOL was the place to be for conversing with strangers online.
This article 1) discusses the implications of getting language learners to use internet chat rooms for language learning purposes, and 2) aims to prove that the author wasn’t asleep during the conference. Learners are able to see how a conversation develops, and also to notice what kinds of response are suitable (or unsuitable) in given situations. The learner is enticed into conversing with others, and yet can withdraw as and when they feel like it. Chat rooms offer the learner the chance to produce language which is somewhere between everyday spoken English and the language in its written form. It is the nature of chat room dialogue for conversations to move very quickly at times, thus leaving the learner somewhat confused and downhearted. This is often difficult for EFL students, due to a deficiency of the type of reading skill which a native speaker would inherently possess.
This may lead to misunderstandings which have nothing to do with the learner’s knowledge of the language.
Furthermore, the author has found that introducing himself as a learner of Turkish has proven beneficial in setting up the nature of the dialogue. If you’re old enough you may remember those games like Spy Snatcher and Shadows of Mordor; you can thank AOL for getting rid of those. When you compare that to our chat rooms today with unlimited amount of members online simultaneously, you see how far we’ve come along.
Sure you can chat online for free nowadays, but back then $19.95 per month was considered cheap to have unlimited chat room access.

In the late 1990’s AOL was reached over 17 million users and was a place to talk about anything. That goes without stating all of the other types of online communication methods like MySpace and Facebook.
Language students can use a chat room at any time to interact with any number of people anywhere in the world. The conversations are real and the frameworks around which they are built are extremely loose. After several enjoyable years working at Bilgi University's English preparatory school, he has now joined the School of languages at Sabanci University. In fact, America Online was named one of the most influential websites to have revolutionized the internet. AOL was a leader at one point and those who remember it will never forget how important it was once upon a time.
Also, the sense of real time is a little more forgiving than a face to face spoken encounter. Outside of the profession, he loves composing music, and is slowly coming to grips with being in his thirties, helped along by his wife Cagla and his son Aslan. Firstly, there is that all important thinking time between seeing what the other person has written and making one’s reply. Secondly, there is the factor of anonymity which potentially increases the learners’ confidence.

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