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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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Promoting language learning across the European member states has been one of the priorities of the European Union over the last two decades. With the introduction of foreign language teaching in primary school curricula (EUROSTAT 2015) as well as forms of bilingual language learning (EURYDICE 2006) in secondary schools language learning projects were bolstered. Yet, questions on language needs of the young generation in Europe have to meet the challenge of lifelong learning in order to be prepared for working lives in a globalised world.

The results of a number of language learning programmes supported by the European Union have been well documented and the following handbook is one of them since it focuses on ‘Third language learning in Tandem Skype’ (L3TASK). Within the project researchers and language teachers of four different countries were brought together: Austria, Germany, Spain and China.

The Tandem method, developed in the second half of the 20th century by academics and practitioners such as Jürgen Wolff (see Künzle/ Müller 1989), was always characterised by the idea of learner-centredness and autonomy. The fact, that it is the language learners, who ultimately decided which language they chose, for what purpose and how, led to the development of learning environments outside the methodological framework of traditional language classrooms. Therefore, the following handbook emphasises the role of language teachers in the process of language learning in Tandem settings. It also has to be pointed out that technological changes diversified the...

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