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Handbook for Foreign Language Learning in Online Tandems and Educational Settings


Edited By Hermann Funk, Manja Gerlach and Dorothea Spaniel-Weise

This book is about foreign language learning in non-formal Online Tandems. The collected papers by contributors who have expertise in the field of Language Pedagogy and Foreign Language Acquisition gather information on online interactions, such as the initiation of tandems, the mentoring of online activities and learners’ interaction, as well as the assessment of the processes at hand. The handbook targets stakeholders, institutions of higher education, language teachers and tandem trainers at educational institutions that want to set up Online Tandems especially designed for third language learners. The book is the result of the three-year project L3TASK carried out at five universities in Austria (Wien), Germany (Jena) and Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid) and associated partner institutions in China. It was funded by the European Commission in the frame of the Life Long Learning Programme.

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1.2 Online Tandems – a Distinct Way of Language Learning?


1.2 Online Tandems – a Distinct Way of Language Learning?

There is a consensus among experts that language learning is enriched by the advent of an ever growing number of digital and/ or online learning tools that come in different formats and can work as an additive to classroom-based instruction or even replace it where appropriate. Learning a foreign language can happen in different ways, such as in language classes, on holiday, via digital media, within a family or from friends or with the help of learning materials, etc. All of these are of different relevance to learners and more often than not, exist side by side, often referred to as hybrid or blended learning (Rösler/ Würffel 2010a).

Language learning is a complex cognitive as well as social process that can best be described in terms of its opposition to the concept of acquisition. While learning is an intentional and directional way of achieving a fixed set of goals, acquisition happens to be incidental and takes place everywhere and at any given time (Ballweg et al. 2013, 15 ff.). In more technical terms, language acquisition describes a process commonly taking place outside a language classroom and without a fixed curriculum, while learning is often geared towards attaining learning goals, determined by a curriculum within an institutional or educational frame. In this way, language learning in a narrow sense is directional, intentional and conscious (see also chapter 1.1).

Introducing the distinction between formal, informal...

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