Schaefer, Rodrigo (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)
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Recently, the development of an intercultural approach in language teaching and learning is associated with new fluid ways of understanding languages and cultures (Canagarajah, 2007). Among the many scholars who advocate the inclusion of an intercultural approach in foreign language learning, it should be mentioned Kramsch (1993; 1998; 2005; 2013), for whom the principal aim of this approach is to provide “[…] an awareness and a respect of difference, as well as the socio-affective capacity to see oneself through the eyes of others” (2005, p.553). The understanding of how interculturality is constructed in telecollaborative models has received much attention by scholars such as O’Dowd (2003; 2006) and Ware and Kramsch (2005). O’Dowd (2013) defines telecollaboration as “[…] the application of online communication tools to bring together classes of language learners in geographically distant locations to develop their foreign language skills and intercultural competence through collaborative tasks and project work” (2013, p.123). A model of telecollaboration is Teletandem, which is run in Brazil and defined by Vassalo (2009) as individual videoconferencing or interaction between a pair of interactants (language learners). They have the interest of learning, in an autonomous way, the mother tongue -or language of proficiency -of her/his respective partner.
The objective of this presentation is to discuss whether interculturality emerged in Teletandem sessions. With a view to achieving this objective, I will analyze a culture-related episode regarding a partnership between an interactant of an American university and an interactant of a Brazilian university. In addition to the Teletandem sessions, experience reports written by the interactant of the Brazilian university and intermediation sessions, which happened amongst the Brazilian interactants and the teacher-intermediator soon after the Teletandem sessions, will be taken into considering for interpretation purposes. The outcomes of this ongoing study have shown that the intermediation sessions were very relevant for the purpose of promoting further reflections on specific issues that had been addressed in a shallow way during the Teletandem sessions. The results have also pointed out that the presence of the teacher-intermediator has been of utmost importance for the deconstruction of solid cultural representations.
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