Computer assisted language learning (CALL) has been at the forefront of foreign language education since the early 1980s. More recently researchers’ and practioners’ attention has centered on the sociocognitive approaches to CALL, that is, on the classroom practices and the electronic applications that make use of students’ interaction via the computer to promote the foreign language learning potential. This article addresses the issues of cross cultural collaboration and computer mediated communication (CMC) and explores how asynchronous online networking can foster a) the collaboration across partner classes and b) the cooperation of students within partner classrooms with the aim of enhancing the learning of English as a foreign language and in particular the development of language and culture awareness and mediation skills and ultimately intercultural communicative competence.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Discourse Community of Learners: A group of learners, who communicate with another group via the computer, discuss, and exchange ideas and information on various issues.
Multipolar Online Interaction: The interaction between students of a foreign language not only with native speakers of the target language but also with people whose mother tongue and cultures are other than the target one.
Sociocognitive Perspective in CALL: The perspective according to which students may learn a foreign language through communication via the computer. Proponents of the sociocognitive perspective in CALL propose applications such as the e-mail, the Internet relay chats, the MOOs, audio and video conferencing, and so forth.
Cross Cultural Mediation Skills: The skills which allow learners to take into account a) their interlocutors’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds and b) the specific context of communication in order that they can select the appropriate linguistic codes that will facilitate them in transferring texts and information from their native language into the target one in an effective way.
Cross Cultural Online Networking: The online communication and interaction among discourse communities of learners, each one of which is originated in a discrete cultural and linguistic environment.
Bipolar Online Interaction: The interaction between students of a foreign language and native speakers of the specific language.
Applied Linguistics: The scientific field that studies foreign language teaching and learning.
Asynchronous Online Networking: The type of communication between individual learners or groups of learners who use “not simultaneous” modes of communication, such as the e-mail, to share messages and lengthy texts in the context of collaboration and interaction.