Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Learning Languages via Telecollaboration: “Variation on the Theme”

Alla Nazarenko, Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russian Federation)


Telecollaboration has two famous forms: teletandem (t-Tandem) and the intercultural telecommunication project (Cultura model) [Helm 2015]. Here we concentrate on teletandem. The tandem method of learning languages means a mutual free exchange of language knowledge  [Vassallo, Telles 2006]: two native speakers agree between themselves to teach each other their mother tongues. In the course of their tandem interaction they constantly rotate their functions of teacher and learner. Their collaboration is absolutely autonomous: they are independent of any institution and free of any financial obligation to each other. They are equal and equally interested in successfully learning their partner's language (principles of reciprocity and parity of languages). MSU (Russia) and VCU (USA) adapted the initial tandem method to enhance their students' mandatory foreign language learning (English and Russian, accordingly) under their curriculum [Brinkwirth, Boikova, Nazarenko 2017]. The tandem-partners communicate via ICT (t-Tandem). A free independent tandem is transformed into an institutional one (i.e. is included into the students' curricula as an elective learning activity). The autonomy of tandem learning is preserved  but in a slightly restricted way due to the necessity to evaluate its successfulness. For this each partner university has a curator, a real teacher (of Russian – at VCU and of English – at MSU), whose functions are those of a facilitator, organiser and administrator [O'Dowd 2015]. A structure of teletandem, suitable for both sides, was worked out. It has three stages: an introductory videoconference for MSU and VCU students to meet and make tandems; task-based autonomous learning in tandems resulting in the preparation of Power Point presentations on a developed theme and a final videoconference with students making their presentation for discussion. The conclusion emphasizes students’ satisfaction as a factor to evaluate the successfulness of the teletandem project.

Keywords: T-tandem, telecollaboration, online learning, distance learning.

[1] Helm F., 2015. The Practices and Challenges of Telecollaboration in Higher Education in Europe// Language Learning & Technology. V. 19, No 2. pp. 197–217. URL:
[2] Moore, J.C. (2009). A Synthesis of Sloan-C Effective Practices: December 2009. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(4), 73-97
[3] Nazarenko A. L., Brinkvirt A. T., Boikova N. V. (2017)  Connecting cultures, languages and students through teletandem: building bridges to enhance learning and understanding // Вестник Московского университета. Серия 19: Лингвистика и межкультурная коммуникация, M: МГУ, № 2, с. 9-18
[4] Vassallo M. L., Telles J. A., 2006. Foreign language learning in-tandem: Theoretical principles and research perspectives// The ESPecialist, no 25(1), pp. 1- 37.
[5] Богданова Н.В. Формирование межкультурной компетенции в  рамках тандем-проектов // Научно-технические ведомости СПбГПУ. Гуманитарные и общественные науки. 2017. т. 8, No 1. с. 15. DOI: 10.18721/JHSS.8118

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