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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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2.4 Non-Understanding in eTandem Conversations (Yasmin El-Hariri / Julia Renner)


Yasmin El-Hariri, Julia RennerUniversity of Vienna

2.4 Non-Understanding in eTandem Conversations

Abstract: This article focuses on sequences of non-understanding in learner-to-learner online interaction. Based on audio and video recordings of eTandem conversations we investigate (1) how learners express non-understanding and (2) what strategies are applied to solve those instances of non-understanding. Conversation analysis provides the tools for examining these research questions by revealing what actually happens during eTandem interactions. The results show that learners dispose of a variety of strategies for expressing non-understanding as well as reacting to it. Moreover, they reveal that modes other than verbal interaction, in particular video and text-chat, are used to solve communicative problems. These findings may not only contribute to research in the field of eTandem Language Learning but also provides valuable insights and strategies for both eTandem participants and their trainers.

1 Introduction

Tandem learning involves two individuals learning each other’s language while mutually supporting one another. Originally, language Tandems were carried out in face-to-face settings, where the participants shared the same physical space. More recently, due to technological advancements, eTandems (also: distance Tandems; Online Tandems, or Tele-Tandems) have increasingly been able to overcome spatial distance. In the field of telecollaboration, eTandem language learning is an emerging field of studies. While most publications so far have focused on written communication (e.g. Bower/ Kawaguchi 2011), synchronous, multimodal eTandem language learning constitutes a rather new branch of telecollaboration research. The few published studies in this field have...

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