Silvia Canto (Spanish Language and Culture) will defend her PhD thesis Integrating Intercultural Telecollaboration in Foreign Language Learning Programmes: the Case of Video Communication and Virtual Worlds on 6 March.
If language is a social activity to participate in, language teaching should not only be aimed at mastering the formal aspects and rules of a language. Traditionally, language is seen as a code that consists of words that are connected by rules. This approach to language teaching only requires learning vocabulary and grammar rules. Moreover, in this (limited) view, the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary is the main objective of language teaching. Language is not seen here as a communicative reality, but simply as a memory exercise.
ADEQUATE LEARNING POSSIBILITIES
In today's world, educational programs need to be tailored to the students and their place in society. As teachers, we aim to teach language learners how to communicate effectively, not only inside but especially outside the classroom. Therefore, we must offer them adequate learning opportunities.
The rise of internet technology gives teachers and students many opportunities to connect and collaborate with speakers of other languages around the world, and makes direct communication between foreign language learners (and native speakers) easier than before. These online intercultural exchanges are seen as ideal environments for learning about language and culture because they provide convenient, authentic, direct and fast access to native speakers and their cultures.
Online communication environments have positive effects on language learners’ understanding of target cultures and learners’ spoken language proficiency. By bringing together foreign language learners and native speakers of the target language located in geographically distant places, students learn a language faster. Not only the relevance of meaningful tasks in conjunction with the technological environment, but also an international setting with native speakers, helps to enhance intercultural spoken communication skills. The world has become a global society connected by the internet, social media and affordable direct communication, in which the traditional method for foreign language education no longer meets the needs of students.