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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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In light of a growing number of online language learning settings, E-Tandem learning, in recent years, has turned out to be a small, but specific interest. Adding to the general notion that E-Tandem partnerships are a means to initiate authentic communication between a native and a non-native speaker independent of time and space and close to the learners’ everyday media usage, they present an opportunity to motivate learners in acquiring a second or third foreign language.

Language learning and its promotion amongst adults has become a vital strategy of the European Union (EU), laid out in the ‘Education and Training 2020’ strategic framework (European Commission 2014). In order to promote mobility and intercultural understanding between EU citizens, projects and initiatives that support learners to “master two other languages in addition to their mother tongue” (European Commission 1995, 62) have been set up. Initiating more flexible, so-called ‘non-formal’ and ‘informal’ learning settings, the Lifelong Learning Programme targets mature learners, who, due to time, age and/ or cost constraints cannot take part in formal learning opportunities.

Promoting linguistic diversity and multilingualism is no recent trend but is part of the EU’s language policy. Since 1995, the European Commission has been funding programmes to further develop individuals’ ability to master more than one foreign language. In Weißbuch zur beruflichen und allgemeinen Bildung (1995), the European Commission stated that each European citizen should be enabled to learn two foreign languages on top of their first language (mother...

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