7. CMC


According to John December, “Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) is a process of human communication via computers, involving people, situated in particular contexts, engaging in processes to shape media for a variety of purposes.”  Basically, CMC is communication through computer.

There are three concepts when it comes to CMC.

First of all is communication. Communication is transactional, meaning that it involves two parties. It is not just about sending messages among each other, it is about a negotiation of meaning. Furthermore, communication is multifunctional. Theoretically there are two: transactional-relational and informational functions. Communication is multimodal, which means it can be verbal vs non-verbal or message vs metamessage.

The second core concept is mediation. It means the process by which something is transmitted. Communication is always channeled by, and dependent on, its context for meaning. There are three levels of mediation: psychological, social, cultural and technological.

The third core concept is computer or ICT. In CMC, the focus is more on the relational communication rather than informational communication (the informatics).

CMC has become related to the current language now. ‘Normal languages’ have evolved to fit into patterns of use and the needs of communications technology. One example is SMS and the related messaging services. Most people would use jargons, emojis and abbreviations in SMS and messaging apps like Whatsapp and Wechat. A blurry distinction has happened between spoken language and spoken language in written form.

CMC also play a role in education now. There is an emphasis Shift from Teaching to Learning where learners have a much more active role to play and are expected to be active participant.  CMC allows for learners to employ a combination of strategies and styles most suited to them. The use of the Web as the medium allows for more people-people and people-content interaction. Geographic and time barriers are reduced as people can learn anytime and anywhere. Furthermore, CMC allows for stress-free and safe ways for learners who don’t communicate well in face-to-face interaction to participate in the learning process.

CMC has importance in language. Activities like collaborative projects and tasks are given more importance rather than direct teaching.


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