The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Transnational conversations in education: the benefits of student virtual exchanges structured around social justice themes

Silvia Marijuan, California Polytechnic State University (United States)

Scott Ferree, California Polytechnic State University (United States)


The inclusion of virtual exchanges in the curriculum of language programs in the United States is steadily increasing. Implementing virtual exchanges requires careful planning across institutions and concrete venues to benefit all students involved. Focusing on social justice as an overarching theme of virtual exchanges has the potential to promote the development of students’ linguistic skills in a foreign/second/heritage language and to enhance intercultural understanding through meaningful conversation (e.g., Anderson & Macleroy, 2021; Hernandez Alvarado & Brinckwirth, 2021; Dorroll & Caballero-Garcia, 2020). In this presentation we will discuss the virtual exchange experience between university-level students from the US and Latin America (Argentina). The virtual exchanges took place over six weeks in both English and Spanish. Student perceptions before and after the virtual exchange were quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed to uncover the perceived benefits of the conversation exchanges. Survey responses showed how US students became aware of social, historic, and economic disparities in Latin America and how Latin American students challenged narratives and stereotypes originating in mass media sources like the film industry (e.g., Hollywood), TV, and social media. This research has implications for the classroom use of critical pedagogy, transformative learning, and critical language awareness in relation to multilingual practices (Quan, 2020).


Intercultural development, language learning, virtual exchanges, social inclusion, bilingual classroom



[1] Anderson, Jim, & Macleroy, Vicky (2021): “Stories, communities, voices: Revitalizing language learning through digital media within a project-based pedagogical framework”, in Thomas Michael and Yamazaki, Kasumi (comps.): Project-based language learning and CALL: From virtual exchange to social justice. Sheffield, Equinox Publishing. pp. 231-262.

[2] Dorroll, Courtney, & Caballero-Garcia, Begona (2020). “Creating virtual exchanges: Promoting intercultural knowledge when study abroad is not possible”, Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, 30(2), pp. 148-162.

[3] Hernández Alvarado, Martha Guadalupe, & Brinckwirth, Anton (2021): “Transcultural language learning with cinema, social justice and teletandem”, in Thomas Michael and Yamazaki Kasumi (comps.): Project-based language learning and CALL: From virtual exchange to social justice. Sheffield, Equinox Publishing. pp. 201-230.

[4] Quan, Tracy (2020). “Critical language awareness and L2 learners of Spanish: An action research study”, Foreign Language Annals, 53(4), pp. 897-919.


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