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Multilateral Online Exchanges for Language and Culture Learning

Abstract : This special issue of Language Learning & Technology gathers development in CALL: multilateral online exchanges for learning language and culture. Multilateral exchanges reflect the changing reality of language learning in a globalized world where prolonged and intensive contact with one additional culture has given way to more fleeting encounters with multiple cultures, mediated by Web-based communication tools. In the case of four of this special issue's articles, multilateral exchanges bring together groups of participants from two different institutions and countries. In recent years efforts have been made to expand the bilateral format to accommodate a multiplicity of partners and a more pluralistic approach to intercultural learning (see Hauck, 2007; Hauck & Lewis, 2007; Hauck & Youngs, 2008). A drawback for bilateral partnerships is an inherent risk that participants will see themselves and their partners as “representatives” of a given culture. In a multilateral exchange, however, learners' relationships with their own and other languages and cultures are more nuanced. With appropriate task design, their role is no longer to act solely as a “guide” to their own culture, but also to mediate between other cultures. In this special issue just such a four-way intercultural exchange, the LITERALIA Project, is examined by Stickler and Emke. This shift away from traditional bilateral online intercultural exchanges is, moreover, tied to the fact that fewer and fewer major societies are culturally homogeneous. In a diverse world, contemporary experience of culture is increasingly tribal (in the postmodern sense of the term) rather than national (see Maffesoli, 1988). Consequently, participants no longer fit neatly into the traditional binary schema of bilateral telecollaborative exchanges. In this issue, for example, Diana Yang provides an account of a bilateral English language exchange between students from Taiwanese and Japanese institutions in which the cultural identities of the learners themselves are not quite as uniform as one might assume. One of the students Yang features due to her relativistic attitude to shared online space is Stacy. Stacy's approach to linguistic and cultural exchange is coloured by the experience of having spent part of her life in the US. Likewise, one of the students from Yang's Japanese partner university whose World Athletes blog engages the interest of several Taiwanese partners is Jamal, a Malaysian fan of both soccer and basketball. Such intercultural affinities and identities are ever more frequent in today's world outdating notions of rigid bilateralism.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 4, 2011 - 9:59:41 AM
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Tim Lewis, Thierry Chanier, Bonnie Youngs. Multilateral Online Exchanges for Language and Culture Learning. Language Learning and Technology, 2011, Multilateral Online Exchanges for Language and Culture Learning, 15 (1), pp.3-9. ⟨edutice-00563136⟩



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