Cultura-inspired intercultural exchanges: Focus on Asian and Pacific languages

Although many online intercultural exchanges have been conducted based on the groundbreaking Cultura model, most to date have been between and among European languages. This volume presents several chapters with a focus on exchanges involving Asian and Pacific languages. Many of the benefits and challenges of these exchanges are similar to those reported for European languages; however, some of the difficulties reported in the Chinese and Japanese exchanges might be due to the significant linguistic differences between English and East Asian languages. This volume adds to the body of emerging studies of telecollaboration among learners of Asian and Pacific languages.


Editor's Introduction

Chapter 1

Cultura: From Then to Now. Its Origins, Key Features, Methodology, and How It Has Evolved. Reflections on the Past and Musings on the Future | Gilberte Furstenberg & Sabine Levet

This chapter first revisits the origins of Cultura, a web-based pedagogical model designed to bring intercultural learning and discovery to the forefront of the language class. The basic components of the model and rationale for its development and evolution are presented in detail, along with extensive examples from actual online exchanges. The second part of the chapter discusses ways in which the teacher needs to scaffold the process of intercultural learning, and focuses on the importance of guidelines and tasks (both in the classroom and online) for ensuring the co-construction of knowledge, the integration of online and classroom activities, the assessment of students’ learning, and the place of language study. The final section reflects on the ways in which Cultura has evolved and looks ahead to future directions and possibilities.&nbsp

Chapter 2

A Meta-Synthesis of Cultura-Based Projects | Dorothy M. Chun

The purpose of this chapter is to present the results of a survey that was sent to 30 instructors who had previously conducted Cultura-inspired online intercultural exchanges. The responses of the 18 respondents (60% return rate) help to answer the following research questions: (1) What were the goals that led to the adoption of the Cultura model and what were the outcomes that the Cultura model might achieve? (2) What were the processes in the implementation of the project that built toward the goals? and (3) What kind of data was gathered in order to determine whether the goals were achieved, and how do the data reflect the types of learning outcomes that were addressed and assessed in the Cultura project? Although the goals and implementation processes varied from project to project, common learning outcomes were increased linguistic and cultural gains, in both skills and attitudes. Respondents also cited the necessity of careful planning and alignment of curricular requirements and commitments. These results can inform the design of future intercultural projects.

Chapter 3

A Tale of Two Cultures | Meei-Ling Liaw & Kathryn English

This chapter describes the evolution of an ongoing computer-mediated project between French and Taiwanese ELF (English as Lingua Franca) students engaged in intercultural learning via the different communication modes afforded by the Internet and real-life exchanges. National Taichung University in Taiwan hosts an Internet-based exchange program with the University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) and the Ecole Polytechnique in France. In this chapter, we first present the theoretical framework of the project, the Lacanian concept of extimacy, and Bakhtin’s concept of exotopia. Next, we review related studies on Internet-mediated intercultural projects to highlight the significance of conducting the current study. Third, we describe the project website and the rationale underlying the design of the tasks. Fourth, findings from the analysis of specific data collected from students’ works are presented. Finally, pedagogical implications are discussed in the conclusion.

Chapter 4

Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence Through Online Exchanges | Dorothy M. Chun

Based on Byram’s (1997) definition of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) and specific types of discourse analysis proposed by Kramsch and Thorne (2002) and Ware and Kramsch (2005), this chapter explores how online exchanges can play a role in second language learners’ development of pragmatic competence and ICC. With data obtained from an intercultural exchange between students learning German in an American university and students studying English at a German university, we illustrate how culture is embedded in language as discourse, how “language learners have to negotiate new ways not only of interpreting the content of utterances, but also of navigating interactional pragmatics” (Ware & Kramsch, p. 201), and how advanced learners of German as a foreign language and English as a foreign language employ different discourse styles in their online postings as they seek to understand the discourse genres of their partners.

Chapter 5

Intercultural Learning on the Web: Reflections on Practice | Song Jiang, Haidan Wang, & Stephen Tschudi

This chapter offers an overview and analysis of trial results using a web- based platform for intercultural dialogue developed at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the “China-USA Business Café.” The Café features a series of online interactive tasks designed to teach culture to Chinese and American business students, including word association, sentence completion, situational response, comparison of and reflection on authentic materials, and free discussion forums. Assessment performed on trial implementation of these tasks shows that this web-based teaching platform can help minimize cultural barriers and bridge the cultural gap, while at the same time pointing to needed improvements in the design of the exchange. Through completion of culturally focused interactive tasks followed by reflection and discussion in the web-based intercultural exchange described, Chinese and American learners deepen mutual understanding and enhance their interpretive and expressive abilities in each other’s target language.

Chapter 6

UH-UCLA Filipino Heritage Café and the Fil-Ams’ Quest for Identity | Nenita Pambid Domingo 

The majority of Filipino Americans enroll in Filipino language classes in the hope of retrieving their Filipino identity. This chapter describes the Filipino Heritage Language Café,1 a collaborative project between intermediate Filipino language students at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The Café was inspired by the Cultura model and planning began at the Summer Institute at UHM in 2008. In this chapter, the first iteration of the Café is discussed, and details about the participants, modes of exchange, content and sequence of activities, the students’ reflections, the teachers’ observations, and the lessons learned are presented.2 The inaugural exchange in 2008 achieved the general goals of improving Filipino language proficiency and providing a community for students to explore their Filipino identity and culture, and ways to improve such exchanges were also revealed.

Chapter 7

A High School Japanese and English Intercultural Exchange Project: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation | Yukiko Watanabe, Yoichi Tsuji, & Cindy Wong

This chapter describes the implementation and evaluation of an intercultural exchange project between two high schools, Moanalua High School in the United States and Tezukayama Gakuin Izumigaoka High School in Japan. Through online interactive learning activities, the project aimed at (a) providing opportunities for students to learn authentic language use from peer counterparts, and (b) motivating students to learn diverse cultural perspectives of the value systems underlying customs, opinions, and behaviors. The evaluation of the project was based on teacher reflections, online student performance, and student feedback, and examined the factors affecting implementation of the project and the appropriateness of the tasks and materials.

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