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Teletandem Brazil: foreign languages for all

Abstract

Language learning in-tandem involves pairs of speakers of different languages working collaboratively in order to learn each other's languages. Each of them plays the role of student of the target language he/she wishes to learn (the language in which his/her partner is competent) and teacher of his own language (the one his/her partner wishes to learn). We called this process teletandem when this kind of teaching/learning is assisted by computers, at distance, by means of synchronous communication and use of the writing, reading and teleconference resources of the MSN Messenger. As far as human and technical resources are concerned, the necessary points are needed in a teletandem session: a) a pair of speakers of different languages who wish to learn each other's language; b) a computer with the MSN Messenger installed and an ADSL modem; and c) a webcam. This is done on a completely free of charge basis by means of the reading and writing tools (chat and white board), audio and video resources of the MSN Messenger. This free access by means of the web will promote the contact between foreign languages and cultures, in addition to the establishment of partnerships, friendships and reciprocal exchange of cultural information between the partners. TELETANDEM BRASIL is grounded on an educational and intercultural agenda in both the areas of computer assisted teaching/learning of foreign languages and teacher development for these purposes. It is an inter-department and inter-institutional research project in distance foreign language teaching that involves graduate and undergraduate students from four different campi of São Paulo State University: Assis, Department of Education, Marilia- Graduate Studies program in Education; SJ do Rio Preto- Modern Languages Department and Graduate program in Language Studies; and Bauru O Computing Department). There are still co-researchers from departments of Portuguese of foreign universities, so far University of IIIinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA, Université Charles-de-Gaulle, Lille III,France and Universitá degli Studi di Lecce, Italy. Theoretically, the project is grounded on socio-constructivist theories of coopera tive and transformative learning. In regards to foreign language acquisition, it is based on theories associated to autonomy, lexical approach, focus on form, comprehensible input and situational and interactive authenticity, among others. In regards to teacher development for teletandem, the project is based on theories of transformative learning and teachers' reflective practice. The methodological framework of the project is oriented towards the socio-constructivist paradigm. We have adopted qualitative approaches to research and the use of methods such as case studies, ethnographies and narrative inquiry (participants' stories about their teaching and learning processes)... (AU)

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