Challenges and other feedback: Integrating intercultural learning in the Digital Age

Angela Bailey, Alice Gruber

Abstract

This mixed method case study explored globalization and complex relationships through a virtual exchange project between students from Germany and Colombia in upper intermediate level English classes. We believed by providing a space for online conversation, written collaboration and discussion, students would enhance their plurilingual and pluricultural competence as well as their communicative competences through the medium of English as an international language (EIL).  The aim was also to enable students to investigate cultural complexity and to develop cultural curiosity. Taking into account plurilingual and pluricultural competence (PPC) and the efficacy of virtual exchanges for language learning, we used a series of tasks for students to participate in a wide range of activities of varying complexity regarding German and Colombian culture for a six-week exchange.  Students self-assessed their written and spoken online interactions as well as their perceived skills in mediating texts and communication based on the recently added descriptors in the Companion Volume to the CEFR. They also rated their plurilingual and pluricultural competences on a PPC scale at both the beginning and end of the project. Results demonstrate that there is value in implementing virtual exchange projects in which students reflect on and increase their awareness of these concepts also suggesting that pairing students with international students rather than L1 speakers of the language has a potentially positive effect on students’ anxiety level and communicative competences. 


Keywords

Virtual Exchange; Plurilingual and Pluricultural Competence; Intercultural Communication; English as an International Language (EIL); Foreign Language Learning; NNS-NNS interaction

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