Recent research into e-mail has not only suggested that it can be a powerful motivator for interaction for language learners, but has also begun to link e-mail interactions between native and nonnative speakers to increases in L2 proficiency (Aitsiselmi, 1999; Floreéz-Estrada, 1995; Ioanniou-Georgiou, 1999; Stockwell and Harrington, 2001). In addition, some research has advocated that L2 learners should reach a certain number of e-mail interactions in order for benefits to accrue (Lamy and Goodfellow, 1999; Stockwell, 2000). Despite this apparent need for sustainability of e-mail interactions, the current literature has neglected to determine what features of these NS-NNS e-mail interactions are associated with the longer interaction sequences. Thus, in this study, we investigated 48 learners of Japanese involved in e-mail interactions with native speakers to determine what factors contributed to sustaining interactions. The e-mails are analyzed in terms of the relationship between sustainability and learner proficiency, computing experience, in-country experience, ratio of interlocutors and the content and topics of the e-mail interactions. Further, sustainability is considered in relation to a characterization of the online profiles of the participants. The paper closes with some suggestions for teaching.
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