Online intercultural exchange

Subject: French. Course: Oral and written profiency as well as Intercultural communication. Study level: Bachelor and Master (requires basic level in the foreign language). Class size: Minimum 5. Ideally between 10-15 students.

Motivation for the activity

Project-based telecollaboration gives students the opportunity to make direct contact with the foreign language and culture they are studying.

I use also this activity to research how language students' contact with native speakers via computer-mediated communication strengthens and develops students' intercultural competences.

Central learning outcomes for the couse

To provide the conditions necessary for the development of students' intercultural communicative competences.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

  • Promote authentic communication between Danish students studying French and French students studying Danish
  • Promote cultural and linguistic exchanges in connection with learning French and Danish, respectively
  • Promote the development and acquisition of intercultural, linguistic and communicative competences via online collaboration
  • Explore interesting questions about and by young people in Denmark and France.

Description of the activity

The lecturer must find a partner at another university and build up good communication and trust with the lecturer.

The activity requires a lot of logistics and preparation. The lecturer must:

  • prepare assignments for the students
  • decide which language for which task
  • decide which communication and collaboration tools students will use.

The activity switches between the students having a session in the class with their lecturers, after which they have a session online with their foreign language partner. While the students are online, they alternately discuss in Danish and French while they perform tasks together. Next the circle begins again with activities in the class, where they discuss their experiences, ask questions and talk about the theoretical backgrounds.

Example of an assignment

The students must supplement associations for France/Denmark and the French/Danes respectively (carried out independently and anonymously). The lecturer then brings together all of the associations and publishes them on the blog, after which the students can comment on the associations. The lecturer uses the students' data in classroom teaching, and discusses similarities and differences in the responses from both sides. The students present their hypotheses, discuss them in class, and then continue the discussion online with their partner.

 

 

 

Online resources

A number of the activities can be seen on the blog Échanges Interculturels en ligne Aarhus - Strasbourg and on the Facebook page La France Le Danemark: à la croisée des cultures.

All other activities take place in closed groups on Pages and Facebook to protect the students' identities.

Below, you can see two examples from the blog Échanges Interculturels en ligne Aarhus – Strasbourg. Click to see a larger version.

Outcome of the activity

The students have developed their intercultural competences and communicated effectively. This is clearly reflected in the completion of their assignments.

Reflections on the activity

The lecturer's ethos is completely different from that of lecturers using traditional teacher-centred methods. The lecturer’s role can be described as organiser, animator and accompanist, who motivates, stimulates and facilitates the students.

I would recommend that the lecturer prepares the students before they begin their online cooperation. Preparations could be e.g. intercultural communication theory and training some questioning techniques which may help them to fully benefit from being online.

You should be aware that this activity takes a long time to prepare. It is crucial that you find a good co-lecturer, who is also motivated, as you cannot be physically present at both locations while the project is running.

Other uses

The activity may also be used for intercultural exchange in one language: e.g. Danish and French students who use English as lingua franca to discuss different literary texts.

Ana Kanareva-Dimitrovska

PhD, Project Manager for ECML Denmark

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