APVEA 2017 schedule

The second APVEA conference schedule


Presenter  TitleAbstract
Eric Hagley and Thom Rawson
The International Virtual Exchange Project and its effect on cultural awareness 

Virtual Exchange (VE) has many benefits for foreign language teachers and their students but it is still not easily accessible to the mainstream. Students in English-as-a-foreign-language classrooms often have few opportunities to physically interact with other users of English. VE gives them virtual mobility, enabling them to participate in a global community. In this presentation, the author introduces a large scale VE which includes over 1500 students from 5 countries in a VE via a Moodle platform. Students interact online in English as a lingua franca. Exchanges are carried out over 8 week periods. Outcomes from the project, sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education, will be outlined using data gained from questionnaires, text analysis and student feedback. The importance and learning of inter-cultural communication to participants should be obvious but pre (Apr. 2016) and post (June 2016) questionnaires that are being carried out to gauge changes in students’ cultural sensitivity will hopefully shed more light on this. This paper will report on the outcomes of those surveys too. Details of how this method of VE could bring it into the mainstream, ensuring VE can become a part of any English communication class throughout the world if the teacher so wishes, will be outlined in addition to an outline of problems that can eventuate and ideas for incorporating the VE into classroom practice.

Valerie Belmonti
Mobile Language Exchange using WeChat: Intercultural Discussions Using Smartphones

The presentation will illustrate the instructional design process implemented by a team of researchers and faculty at the Center for Integrated Language Communities (CILC) to design and incorporate tele-collaborative modules into existing Chinese Heritage courses at two different colleges of the City University of New York. The selected courses are partnered with a EFL class at a Chinese university, and students complete a dual language exchange project communicating through mobile messaging in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

The presenter will outline the integration of WeChat, a free mobile application used to create conversation tasks that students complete with partners outside classroom time, and in which students collaboratively compare- and-contrast similarities and differences of Chinese and American realities and perspectives on selected topics. The conversations are designed to supplement and enhance the cultural content and topics already presented in the textbooks, and to engage students in cross-cultural analysis and reflections. The presenter will illustrate sample telecollaborative assignments where intercultural learning is scaffolded through pre-task, task, and post-task assignments.

Concluding, the presenter will share a newly created online database of literature relevant to telecollaboration for Chinese language and intercultural competence, and a list of free technology resources for educators interested in finding partners for telecollaborations or learning more about existing telecollaboration models. 

CILC is one of sixteen Title VI National Foreign Language Resource Centers funded by the US Department of Education, and is hosted at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Mari Yamauchi
Preparing Japanese Students for Intercultural Communication through Virtual ExchangeAs the world is getting more connected, it is more and more important for foreign language education to prepare students for interaction with people from other cultures, helping them to become open towards, curious about and tolerant of otherness, and critically aware of themselves (Byram 2002). Virtual exchange (VE) can offer a great learning opportunity for students who generally need little foreign language in everyday life to interact with students across the world and gain intercultural experience. In the author’s previous studies, in fact, VE had a positive impact on the students’ attitudes towards and interest in other cultures, and motivation to learn languages. However, not all the participants were active enough to make the best of their opportunity, and it was suspected that factors including lower self-confidence and willingness to use L2, higher L2 anxiety, and weaker social skills could negatively affect their participation and should be better taken care of.

This presentation will report how these possible negative factors have been addressed in the latest implementations of VE via Moodle and Facebook groups (one with Colombia; the other with Finland) in her Intercultural Communication course, where the students’ English proficiency levels vary from approximately CEFR A1 to B1. A pre-exchange survey (N=21) showed a correlation between willingness to communicate in L2, interest in intercultural interaction and perceived social skills, while they were not correlated with perceived L2 confidence, which was generally quite low. How or whether these have changed through the project and how/whether they have affected students’ actual participation will be shown in the presentation. The intercultural tasks used in the VE projects will be discussed with a focus on what could help willing students to stay motivated, and help reluctant students to become active enough to maximize their learning opportunity.