Center forLanguage Acquisition

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Penn State Foreign Language Telecollaboration Project

Penn State Foreign Language Telecollaboration Project

Co-principal Investigators:

Associate Investigators:

Funding Agency: U. S. Department of Education

Funding Award Amount: $409,809

Project Duration: 3 years

Project Status: Completed (2004)

Project Description:

This project brought foreign languages learners into extensive and intensive contact with native users of the language via telecommunication in order to create contexts for interactive communication and task-based collaboration. Partner classes in English, French, German and Spanish were established, with each of the classes engaging with a community of students who are native speakers of the “foreign” language being studied. Penn State students and their partner classes also pursued web-based collaborative research on popular culture themes. This project investigated the effects of technology-mediated language use on learning processes and learning outcomes, and considered optimal practices and models for the incorporation of such methodologies into the foreign language curriculum.

The project utilized protocols and tasks developed by faculty at Penn State. It entailed an empirical assessment of the effectiveness of the intercultural collaboration approach across three foreign languages (French, German and Spanish). This included:

  • Quantitative assessment of oral and written proficiency
  • Qualitative assessment of discourse properties, such as learner ability to use appropriate lexical and grammatical cohesive devices (e.g., pronouns and clitics, temporal adverbs, word order variation, etc.) and to appropriately mark backgrounded and foregrounded information
  • Exploring the extent to which learners are able to appropriate new vocabulary, metaphors and idiomatic expressions as a consequence of interacting with native users of the language
  • Learner development of morphosyntactic competence in the relevant languages
  • Investigation of the effects of telecollaborative intercultural communication on the development of cultural understanding
  • Uncovering and assessing any effects that are unique to computer mediated interaction compared to more conventional classroom learning


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  • Belz, J. A. (2005). Chapter 8: At the intersection of telecollaboration, learner corpus analysis, and L2 pragmatics: Considerations for language program direction. Issues in Language Program Direction, Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.
  • Belz, J. A. (2005). Corpus-driven characterizations of pronominal da-compound use by learners and native speakers of german. Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, 38(1), 44-60.
  • Belz, J. A. (2005). Intercultural questioning, discovery and tension in internet-mediated language learning partnerships. Language and Intercultural Communication, 5(1), 3-39.
  • Belz, J. A. (2007). The role of computer mediation in the instruction and development of L2 pragmatic competence. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 27, 45-75.
  • Belz, J. & Kinginger, C. (2002). The cross-linguistic development of address form use in telecollaborative language learning: Two case studies. Canadian Modern Language Review59, 189-214.
  • Belz, J. & Kinginger, C. (2003). Discourse options and the development of pragmatic competence by classroom learners of German: The case of address forms. Language Learning, 53, 591-647.
  • Belz, J. A., & Muller-Hartmann, A. (2003). Teachers as intercultural learners: Negotiating german-american telecollaboration along the institutional fault line. The Modern Language Journal, 87(1), 71-89.
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  • Belz, J. A., & Vyatkina, N. (2005). Learner corpus analysis and the development of L2 pragmatic competence in networked intercultural language study: The case of German modal particles. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 62(1), 17-48.
  • Belz, J. A., & Vyatkina, N. (2008). The pedagogical mediation of a developmental learner corpus for classroom-based language instruction. Language Learning & Technology, 12(3), 33-52.
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  • Kinginger, C. & Belz, J. (2005). Sociocultural perspectives on pragmatic development in foreign language learning: Case studies from telecollaboration and study abroad. Intercultural Pragmatics, 2, 369-421.
  • Thorne, S. L. (2006). Pedagogical and praxiological lessons from Internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education research. In J. A. Belz & S. L. Thorne (eds.), Internet-Mediated Intercultural Foreign Language Education (pp. 2-30). Annual Volume of the American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.
  • Thorne, S. L. (2003). Artifacts and cultures-of-use in intercultural communication. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2): 38-67.