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 Teaching and assessing intercultural
communicative competence. Multilingual Matters, 1997), cannot be easily
tested (Dervin and Vlad Alsic 13., 2010); (Martin
Int J Intercult Relat 48:6–8, 2015); (Zarate Intercultural competence. Council
of Europe, Strasbourg, 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 De la compétence à la dynamique interculturelle. Peter Lang, 2000,
p. 53). Arguments are made in support of a “developmental paradigm” (Hammer
Int J Intercult Relat 48:12–13, 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 Teachers as mediators in the foreign language
classroom. Multilingual Matters, 2015) and develop an awareness of their own
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
ISSN (Print)1571-5361
ISSN (Electronic)2452-1027


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

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