A First-year Exchange

This series of tasks is designed for an exchange between two or more classes of students studying English in their study programme. It gives them the opportunity to use English in a semi-authentic context and also to develop their electronic literacies and their academic skills by carrying out different online activities together such as creating a blog, interviewing each other online and carrying out a class presentation based on their online collaborations.

The tasks are relatively simple to organise and implement and are adaptable to a wide number of topics. This task sequence has been quite successful with first year students as it combines online interaction with basic academic skills development such as class presentations, interviewing and essay writing.


Robert O Dowd


Ethnographic interviews online
Collaborating on a powerpoint presentation
Creating Blogs for your partner class


University of León

Target Group:

foreign language

Language of task instruction:




Cultural presentation and exchange

Estimated Duration:

More than 10 sessions





Languages that can be used:


Language Configurations:

Lingua Franca

Target Competences:

Language competence
Intercultural skills
Online communication skills
Media literacy

Instructions for the task sequence:

The aim of this project is to give students experience in working and learning together online with people from different cultural and language backgrounds. This project will also help students to improve your English language skills and develop some basic academic skills such as working in teams to make online products (in this case, a blog), conducting research interviews and making presentations in classes based on your research.

The students have to do the following:

1. Working in groups of 4-6 students, they create a blog presenting an aspect of their local culture or local community. The blogs are all written in the lingua franca of the exchange.

2. They
read their partners&#39 blogs and provide them with feedback and questions.

3. They choose a specific aspect of culture and carry out interviews in international groups based on this cultural theme.

4. They work in an international group to create a class presentation based on the topic developed in step 3.

5. They carry out the presentations in their local classes and submit essays reflecting on what they have learned from the exchange.

Criteria for Completion:

Criteria for completion is included with each of the individual tasks. However, an essay task based on the whole task sequence may be similar to this one:

Over the past weeks you have created a blog for communicating with partners in other countries. You have also been reading their blogs about life as a student in their countries and you have participated in online discussions with them and you have collaborated together to make a class presentation. Based on your experiences, write a report (approx. 1000 words) on the following topic:

&quot What I have learned in this online exchange about student culture around the world and about the cultural differences in these different countries.&quot

In your own you should discuss the other students&#39 attitudes to different topics, what appears to be important to them and the way they communicate.

Whenever possible, you should give examples or some short quotations from their messages and blogs to support your ideas. Be sure to explore our platform carefully, reading the messages and blogs and looking at their photos. You can try to contact them with concrete questions if you still need to clarify something.

Paragraph 1: IntroductionWhat might the structure of your essay look like? Here is an example – you don&#39 t have to follow this exactly. It is just some ideas. Feel free to choose your own topics and structure:

Describe the exchange. Describe the pupils of the other classes. What did you do to collect information for this essay?

Paragraphs 2 and 3: Student life in your country compared to the other countries
What differences did you notice in the blogs and discussion forums? Give some concrete examples. Where would you prefer to study if you had a chance?

Paragraph 4 and 5: A special issues in all countries
Choose a topic from your online interviews in task 2. Now compare how that issue is dealt with in your partner countries.

What are the most interesting things you&#39 ve learned from this exchange? Are there many differences between the groups? What is your opinion about learning a foreign language through an online exchange.

Comments and suggestions:

The task sequence can involve various online tools – blogs, email, skype and asynchronous discussion forums. In the past it has been useful to use a platform such as Moodle as a &#39 base&#39 for the exchange. The students then posted their blogs, interview questions etc. in different sections of the moodle platform.