Telecollaboration and student mobility for language learning

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© 2016 Celeste Kinginger.

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This paper reviews major findings from qualitative and quantitative research on language learning in student mobility in order to consider how telecollaboration might contribute to the success of student sojourns abroad. Evidence is available to demonstrate the effectiveness of student mobility in every domain of language development. As may be expected, an in-country stay is shown to be particularly beneficial for the social-interactive and pragmatic dimensions of language least amenable to classroom instruction. However, throughout the literature a common finding is of notable individual differences in learning outcomes. To understand why only some, but not all students appear to develop language competence abroad, qualitative research has examined the nature of the experience from a variety of perspectives. This research has shown that students encounter challenges in establishing local social networks and often retain strong ties to home. They also position themselves within newly salient national identities, or are positioned by interlocutors as foreigners with questionable rights to appreciate and to learn local sociolinguistic norms. It has become clear that many learners approach their task with little awareness of diverse language varieties and registers within their host communities. Prior socialization in classrooms can also limit the range of their participation in informal conversations and thus, their development of interactive capacities. Whether implemented as preparation for physical mobility or as concurrent support for language learners abroad, telecollaboration holds the potential to address these issues. In telecollaborative pedagogies, students can create social connections with their peers, see themselves through the eyes of others, be exposed to specific attitudes and discourses about foreigner identities, experience and analyze spoken or informal forms, and expand their discourse options beyond the strictly pedagogical.

Keywords: study abroad, student mobility.


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Kinginger, Celeste. (2016). Telecollaboration and student mobility for language learning. In Sake Jager, Malgorzata Kurek, Breffni O'Rourke (Eds), New directions in telecollaborative research and practice: selected papers from the second conference on telecollaboration in higher education (pp. 19-29).

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