Enhancing intercultural communicative competence through online foreign language exchange: Taiwanese students’ experiences

Wen-Chuan Lin, Jian-Shiung Shie, Prue Holmes

Abstract


From cross-cultural and comparative perspectives, this paper reports on a study which investigated students’ experiences of intercultural and foreign language learning through a six-month online language exchange project involving 30 Taiwanese secondary students learning English as a foreign language (EFL) and 10 British secondary students learning Mandarin. The paper focuses on the Taiwanese participants’ intercultural learning process and progress through online interactions on a class blog. Survey questionnaires were designed to examine the participants’ perceptions of intercultural and English learning online. Qualitative data collected through classroom observations, online materials, reflection logs and interviews were analysed and employed to explore students’ experiences. The findings indicate that students perceived development of both their English abilities and their interculturalcommunicativecompetence as a result of meaningful online peer interactions. However, intriguing emerging differences of learning attitudes between students from Taiwan and England were found, reflecting contrastive educational cultures between the two countries. This study aims to explore the processes of foreign language learning and intercultural interactions mediated by internet communication tools. Results shed light on the interaction between cultural heterogeneity and language communication. Suggestions are made about the future practice of online language exchanges and relevant next steps in researching this area.

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Keywords


EFL; intercultural communicative competence; comparative education; Taiwan

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