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Handbook for Foreign Language Learning in Online Tandems and Educational Settings


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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1.5 The Notion of Task in the Context of Online Tandems


1.5 The Notion of Task in the Context of Online Tandems

While language classes can address different target groups (e.g. learners within an academic context, foreign workers in companies, immigrants, etc.), the overall concepts all aim at training their students in all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in a target language, as well as providing them with grammatical, lexical and cultural knowledge. Due to the fact that classes often have to follow curricular criteria and thus have to process a multitude of information in only a short time, there seems to never be enough time for learners to practice speaking.

Tandems serve as a means of bringing together learners of different mother tongues (L1) who want to learn their partners L1 as a target language. Despite having studied a target language over a span of time, participants of Tandems often find themselves in a situation, where they do not know what to talk about or how to structure their sessions with their partner. Of course, this depends on the level of expertise in a language but raises the question of how to support the interaction between the learners. In the project, designing and providing learning materials that also reflect the learning situation in Online Tandems, which is quite different from the one in classrooms, addressed this question. These learning materials consist of tasks that are supposed to “motivate learners to do meaningful things with language” (Müller-Hartmann / Schocker-von Ditfurth 2011, 22) and are...

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