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Higher Education | Language and Literacy Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


In fall 2017, the online interactive exchange platform, TalkAbroad, was integrated into the curriculum of Introduction to Contemporary French Culture (FREN311). Twelve students independently conducted three 30-minute conversations with native speakers from six different Francophone countries to discuss cultural dimensions, in conjunction with in-class activities. As a final assignment, students collaborated in pairs to analyze information gathered during the exchanges, and to create oral presentations about the country of their interlocutors. The project employs three modes of communication (Interpersonal, Interpretational and Presentational), as described by the American Council for Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). It creates meaning in the classroom, and provides an independent learning experience outside of the classroom, thus fulfilling the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Language Learning (W-RSLL) (Philipps & Abbott, 2011). Both quantitative data analysis, and content analysis of student feedback, support the conclusion that the use of interactive exchanges with native interlocutors was effective in awakening cultural sensitivity, and developing greater awareness of the Francophone world. Students indicated having learned linguistic and cultural elements from their interlocutors. This supports the use of interactive exchanges as a way to enhance students’ intercultural communicative competency (ICC). The inclusion of exchanges, such as TalkAbroad, in language courses, complements and consolidates functions studied in the classroom, addresses institutional Intercultural Learning Goals and, furthermore, shows potential to fulfill the Global Engagement of the new Integrations Curriculum. This Thursday Forum follows a presentation given at the biennial conference Education et Diversité Linguistique et Culturelle (EDiLiC), in Lisbon, Portugal, in summer 2019.