University of British Columbia (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 2256-2262
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
This pilot project explored a Teletandem experience to increase undergraduate students’ willingness (i.e., intention) to communicate in foreign-language Spanish and English. Teletandem involves pairs of native (or competent) speakers who aim to learn each other’s languages through computer-to-computer interactions. This dynamic form of language exchange promotes collaboration and autonomy (Vasallo & Telles, 2006). Teletandem is essentially an experiential methodology that contrasts with classroom learning where willingness to speak the target language might be inhibited by limited access to authentic communicative situations.

During a term, an intermediate Spanish class from a Canadian post-secondary institution was paired with an intermediate English class from a Chilean post-secondary institution. Students received conversation tasks to work with their Teletandem partners outside class time. The sessions were not graded; yet, students shared their work in class. At the beginning of the study (Time 1) and at the end (Time 2), students completed instruments with scales to measure target-language willingness to communicate in and outside the classroom, perceived ability to speak the target language, and frequency of willing target-language use outside of the classroom. Ultimately, we aimed to observe whether Teletandem as a fun methodology encouraged students to become more autonomous foreign-language users, hence feeling motivated to speak Spanish and English spontaneously.

Results showed a tendency for more willingness to communicate in Spanish and English at Time 2 than at Time 1. Students’ increased perception of their ability to speak the target languages correlated positively with higher frequency of language use that the researcher interpreted as willingness to interact in Spanish and English. This preliminary evidence suggested that Teletandem as a highly experiential methodology may enrich learning foreign-language Spanish and English. Teachers can create opportunities for learners to extend target-language use outside class by designing tasks that Teletandem partners can accomplish collaboratively and autonomously.
Teletandem, Spanish, English, language exchange, willingness to communicate, experiential learning, collaborative work, autonomy.