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Language and culture learning in higher education via telecollaboration


This article focuses on the ways of researching the process of designing, developing, and using telecollaboration (also known as online intercultural exchange) to facilitate the learning of both linguistic and intercultural communicative competence (ICC) in higher education courses in different educational contexts in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Although telecollaboration would intuitively seem to be an ideal medium for learning another language and about another culture, extensive research has shown that this learning process takes years and faces many challenges. This paper situates the research on language and culture learning within the broader scope of language and intercultural education (see Pedagogies, 8(2), for a report of an interview with Michael Byram, one of the originators of the concept of ICC). A multinational example of the integration of telecollaborative networks in European university language classes collaborating online, the INTENT project, is described. In addition, a telling case, the Cultura model, implemented in the United States, Europe, and Asia, demonstrates a successful approach (with accompanying research) to telecollaboration for language and culture learning. However, there are also invisible factors and unanticipated challenges that teachers and learners need to understand in order to benefit from these telecollaborative environments; these are examined at the end of the article.

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