This well-known task for online intercultural exchange uses comes from the Cultura exchange project.
This task involves the juxtaposing of questionnaire results from the two different cultures together on web pages in order to offer a comparative approach to investigating cultural difference.
When using Cultura, language learners from two cultures (for example, Spanish learners of English and American learners of Spanish) complete online questionnaires related to their cultural values and associations. These questionnaires can be based on word associations (e.g. What 3 words do you associate with the word ‘ Spain?), sentence completions (e.g. A good citizen is someone who . . .) or reactions to situations (e.g. Your friend in 22 and is still living with his parents. What do you say to him/her? ). (See an example of one of the juxtaposed questionnaires in the attachment below.)
Each group fills out the questionnaire in their native language. Following this, the results from both sets of students are then compiled and presented online. Under the guidance of their teachers in contact classes, students then analyse the juxtaposed lists in order to find differences and similarities between the two groups’ responses. Following this analysis, students from both countries meet in online message boards to discuss their findings and to explore the cultural values and beliefs which may lie behind the differences in the lists.
In addition to the questionnaires, learners are also supplied with online resources such as opinion polls and press articles from the two cultures which can support them in their investigation and understanding of their partner class’ responses.
This was a telecollaborative exchange which took place from 2005 to 2011 between the University of León, Spain and Barnard College, New York. The project combined stages of online intercultural exchange with stages of physical mobility between the two classes. After initial online interaction, a group of students from León would travel to New York and would take part in classes with the American group for one week. Following that, the American group came to Spain to participate in classes with the Spanish class for another week. The exchange would then return to online interaction between the two classes. The content of the online interaction and the project work carried out during the physical mobility was all stored on a wiki.
LanguageTwin is an educational video chat platform that allows foreign language students to converse one-on-one with native speakers who are also learning a foreign language, while providing educators a framework for structuring conversations and assessing the performance and progress of their students.
Working in groups of students from the different participating universities, students are asked to prepare a presentation based on a theme of their choice. They collaborate online to make the powerpoint together and then present this common ppt. to their local classes.
Students are assigned partner-students in the different partner universities and are required to interview them on an ethnographic theme- e.g. " Politeness rules in our partner countries" , " Rules of travelling in public transport in our partner countries" , " the people and symbols in our partner country' s stamps and coins and what this tells us about our countries" , " what is on sale in tourist shops in our country and what this tell us" etc.
The aim is to get students to look critically at aspects of their own culture and then to report to each other and compare. These interviews can be done by email, skype etc. Students are then required to write an academic essay, comparing how the topic is treated/experienced in the different cultures.
Working in groups, students create blogs (using blogger or another free, easy-to-use tool) which present themselves and aspects of their local culture. Students from the different partner universities then post comments and questions on their partners' blogs.
You can see previous examples of blogs which my students made for an exchange here: http://killingtorrente.blogspot.com.es/ http://places-of-wonder.blogspot.com.es/ http://ourrealspain.blogspot.com.es/
Usually, students create the blogs in their target language and receive feedback from their partners in this same language. This would mean that in a Spanish-American exchange, the Spanish students would create their blogs in English and the Americans would create their blogs in Spanish.
This exchange involved future Primary-School teachers at the University of León, Spain (B1 level in English) working with students of Spanish in Missouri, USA (B1 level of Spanish). The exchange was located on a NING platform.
What is a NING? Ning is an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks. Ning offers users the ability to create a community website with a customized appearance and feel, feature sets such as photos, videos, forums and blogs. Your NING can be password protected so, in this sense, it can be a perfect ' closed environment' for your online exchanges.
The exchange lasted for one term and it has been repeated with different groups of students at the two universities over the past three years.
Students in each class present themselves and aspects of their home cultures to their (future) partners through ” cultural autobiographies” in various visual and textual formats. These autobiographies are written in the students' L2 and can be combined with photos, video and links when the presentations are carried out in blogs or wiki tools. The partner class(es) can then respond to the presentations by asking questions about the content and perhaps suggesting corrections to the linguistic errors.