How Do Language Learners Enact Interculturality in E-Communication Exchanges?

Colette Mrowa-Hopkins, Olga Sanchez Castro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


E-communication offers considerable potential for learning about one’s own and others’ cultures and enhancing intercultural understanding. However, an in-depth analysis of variables related to openness to others, critical self-awareness and self-analysis, which are central to developing intercultural communicative competence (Byram 1997), cannot be easily tested (Dervin and Vlad 2010; Martin 2015; Zarate 2003). With this challenge in mind, our project engages language learners in three universities in Australia, Germany and Mexico in cross-cultural exchanges via Skype. Discourse analytical tools are used to document how learners talk about culture and for what purposes, with the aim to explore: (1) participants’ willingness to engage in collaborative processing of cultural information; and (2) participants’ online “intercultural dynamics” (Ogay 2000, p. 53). Arguments are made in support of a “developmental paradigm” (Hammer 2015) that shifts the intercultural lens beyond the individual’s skills and traits to the process through which interculturality is constructed between interlocutors. By examining exchanges with a focus on features of dialogic interaction whereby students recontextualize their own knowledge with their interlocutor, this study illustrates how students mediate their own learning (Kohler 2015) and develop an awareness of their own attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntersections in Language Planning and Policy
Subtitle of host publicationEstablishing Connections in Languages and Cultures
EditorsJean Fornasiero, Sarah M. A. Reed , Rob Amery, Eric Bouvet, Kayoko Enomoto, Hui Ling Xu
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030509255
ISBN (Print)9783030509248
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameLanguage Policy(Netherlands)
ISSN (Print)1571-5361


  • E-communicaton
  • Cultural difference
  • Cultural relativity
  • Intercultural awareness
  • Discourse analysis
  • Collaborative processing
  • intercultural approaches
  • Dialogic interaction
  • E-communication
  • Intercultural dynamics


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