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The role of telecollaboration in language and intercultural learning: A synthesis of studies published between 2010 and 2015

  • Emrullah Yasin Çiftçi (a1) and Perihan Savaş (a2)

In today’s globalized world, learning languages and developing intercultural skills are of paramount importance due to dynamic and complex global interdependencies. However, not every language student around the world has a chance to engage in face-to-face intercultural communication with people from different backgrounds. Telecollaboration offers a worthwhile opportunity by creating digital environments for language learners to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds. This qualitative meta-synthesis therefore aimed to investigate the research papers that were published between 2010 and 2015 in respect to language and intercultural learning within telecollaborative environments. Besides reporting emerging research trends among the studies, this synthesis study scrutinized recent emerging issues and observable patterns under five main themes: (1) the participants’ overall views on their telecollaborative experiences, (2) language learning through telecollaboration, (3) intercultural learning through telecollaboration, (4) the challenges experienced within the telecollaborative projects, and (5) the needs for further effective telecollaboration. Finally, this study synthesizes key emerging issues in telecollaborative projects and offers further research and practice directions in line with the current observable patterns.

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Articles marked with an asterisk (*) were analyzed in this synthesis study.
Alptekin, C. (2002) Towards intercultural communicative competence in ELT. ELT Journal, 56(1): 5764.
*Angelova, M. and Zhao, Y. (2016 [2014]) Using an online collaborative project between American and Chinese students to develop ESL teaching skills, cross-cultural awareness and language skills. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(1): 167185.
*Antoniadou, V. (2011) Using activity theory to understand the contradictions in an online transatlantic collaboration between student-teachers of English as a foreign language. ReCALL, 23(3): 233251.
Baran, E. (2014) A review of research on mobile learning in teacher education. Educational Technology & Society, 17(4): 1732.
Bennett, M. J. (1993) Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In Paige, R. M. (ed.), Education for the intercultural experience (2nd ed.). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 2171.
*Bueno-Alastuey, M. C. and Kleban, M. (2016 [2014]) Matching linguistic and pedagogical objectives in a telecollaboration project: A case study. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(1): 148166.
Byram, M. (1997) Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
*Canto, S., Jauregi, K. and van den Bergh, H. (2013) Integrating cross-cultural interaction through video-communication and virtual worlds in foreign language teaching programs: Is there an added value? ReCALL, 25(1): 105121.
Carney, N. (2006) Telecollaboration for intercultural learning: An overview of projects involving Japan. The JALT CALL Journal, 2(1): 3752.
*Chen, J. J. and Yang, S. C. (2016 [2014]) Promoting cross-cultural understanding and language use in research-oriented Internet-mediated intercultural exchange. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(2): 262288.
Chen, W.-C., Shih, Y.-C. D. and Liu, G.-Z. (2015 [2013]) Task design and its induced learning effects in a cross-institutional blog-mediated telecollaboration. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 28(4): 285305.
*Chun, D. M. (2011) Developing intercultural communicative competence through online exchanges. CALICO Journal, 28(2): 392419.
Chun, D. M. (2015) Language and culture learning in higher education via telecollaboration. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 10(1): 521.
Çiftçi, E. Y. (2016) A review of research on intercultural learning through computer-based digital technologies. Educational Technology & Society, 19(2): 313327.
Collier, M. J. (2015) Intercultural communication competence: Continuing challenges and critical directions. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 48: 911.
Cooper, H. and Hedges, L. V. (2009) Research synthesis as a scientific process. In Cooper, H., Hedges, L. V. and Valentine, J. C. (eds.), The handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis (2nd ed.). New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 316.
*Dooly, M. (2011) Divergent perceptions of telecollaborative language learning tasks: Task-as-workplan vs. task-as-process. Language Learning & Technology, 15(2): 6991.
Fuchs, C., Hauck, M. and Müller-Hartmann, A. (2012) Promoting learner autonomy through multiliteracy skills development in cross-institutional exchanges. Language Learning & Technology, 16(3): 82102.
Furstenberg, G., Levet, S., English, K. and Maillet, K. (2001) Giving a virtual voice to the silent language of culture: The Cultura project. Language Learning & Technology, 5(1): 55102.
Galvan, J. L. (2013) Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (5th ed.). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak.
Godwin-Jones, R. (2013) Integrating intercultural competence into language learning through technology. Language Learning & Technology, 17(2): 111.
Guth, S. and Helm, F. (2010) Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century. Bern: Peter Lang.
Guth, S. and Helm, F. (2012) Developing multiliteracies in ELT through telecollaboration. ELT Journal, 66(1): 4251.
Hammersley, M. (2001) On ‘systematic’ reviews of research literatures: A ‘narrative’ response to Evans & Benefield. British Educational Research Journal, 27(5): 543554.
*Helm, F., Guth, S. and Farrah, M. (2012) Promoting dialogue or hegemonic practice? Power issues in telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 16(2): 103127.
Holliday, A. (2011) Intercultural communication and ideology. London: Sage.
*Lee, L. (2011) Focus-on-form through peer feedback in a Spanish–American telecollaborative exchange. Language Awareness, 20(4): 343357.
*Lee, L. and Markey, A. (2014) A study of learners’ perceptions of online intercultural exchange through Web 2.0 technologies. ReCALL, 26(3): 281297.
Lewis, T. and O’Dowd, R. (2016) Online intercultural exchange and foreign language learning: A systematic review. In O’Dowd, R. and Lewis, T. (eds.), Online intercultural exchange: Policy, pedagogy, practice. New York: Routledge, 2168.
*Liaw, M.-L. and Bunn-Le Master, S. (2010) Understanding telecollaboration through an analysis of intercultural discourse. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 23(1): 2140.
Negueruela-Azarola, E. (2011) Changing reasons as reasoning changes: A narrative interview on second language classroom motivation, telecollaboration, and the learning of foreign languages. Language Awareness, 20(3): 183201.
Norton, B. (2000) Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. Harlow, England: Longman/Pearson Education.
O’Dowd, R. (2007) Evaluating the outcomes of online intercultural exchange. ELT Journal, 61(2): 144152.
O’Dowd, R. (2011) Online foreign language interaction: Moving from the periphery to the core of foreign language education? Language Teaching, 44(3): 368380.
O’Dowd, R. (2013) Telecollaborative networks in university higher education: Overcoming barriers to integration. The Internet and Higher Education, 18: 4753.
O’Dowd, R. (2015a) The competences of the telecollaborative teacher. The Language Learning Journal, 43(2): 194207.
O’Dowd, R. (2015b) Supporting in-service language educators in learning to telecollaborate. Language Learning & Technology, 19(1): 6382.
O’Dowd, R. (2016) Emerging trends and new directions in telecollaborative learning. CALICO Journal, 33(3): 291310.
O’Dowd, R. and Ritter, M. (2006) Understanding and working with ‘failed communication’ in telecollaborative exchanges. CALICO Journal, 23(3): 623642.
*Pérez Cañado, M. L. (2010) Using virtual learning environments and computer-mediated communication to enhance the lexical competence of pre-service English teachers: A quantitative and qualitative study. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 23(2): 129150.
Perry, L. B. and Southwell, L. (2011) Developing intercultural understanding and skills: Models and approaches. Intercultural Education, 22(6): 453466.
Sadler, R. and Dooly, M. (2016) Twelve years of telecollaboration: What we have learnt. ELT Journal, 70(4): 401413.
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*Schenker, T. (2012) Intercultural competence and cultural learning through telecollaboration. CALICO Journal, 29(3): 449470.
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Thorne, S. L. (2003) Artifacts and cultures-of-use in intercultural communication. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2): 3867.
*Vinagre, M. and Muñoz, B. (2011) Computer-mediated corrective feedback and language accuracy in telecollaborative exchanges. Language Learning & Technology, 15(1): 72103.
Walsh, D. and Downe, S. (2005) Meta-synthesis method for qualitative research: A literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50(2): 204211.
*Ware, P. (2013) Teaching comments: Intercultural communication skills in the digital age. Intercultural Education, 24(4): 315326.
*Ware, P. and Kessler, G. (2016 [2014]) Telecollaboration in the secondary language classroom: Case study of adolescent interaction and pedagogical integration. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(3): 427450.
*Zhang, D. (2014) More than “hello” and “bye-bye”: Opening and closing the online chats in Mandarin Chinese. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27(6): 528544.
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