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In language learning environments, language is both the medium of communication used for task completion and the content to be learned. This peculiarity plays a role in the way foreign language learning environments mediated by information technology (IT) can be designed, since communication and collaboration are contingent upon the use of language. This paper presents an experiment in which a small group of students learning French as a foreign language were observed as they worked on their own (i.e., without a teacher) towards the comprehension of a short French TV news sequence in an IT-mediated learning environment. It examines the effects of autonomy and collaboration upon communicative behavior during task completion. The results of the experiment show that having to use the language to deal with a variety of communicative needs gives the learners increased opportunities to produce complex utterances, and requires more remediation and adjustment than when a teacher is in charge. Consequences for the construction of IT language learning environments are suggested.