Language Learning and Intercultural Competence

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Initially it was intended to develop this wiki page in the context of fully online language learning and teaching, and to assist teachers in fostering e-learning communities. However, research (Kohonen, nd) is indicating that even in the case of on-campus classes with regular face to face contact, if online tools such as e-portfolios are used in a blended learning situation, social networking and community play a significant role in whether or not the tool is effectively used by the student. This page therefore is for ongoing ideas/suggestions for how to integrate the various tools to facilitate online language learning communities whether for blended learning in classes that are on-campus with regular face to face lectures, or for totally online/distance learning situations.


The potential of technology for enhancing the learning and teaching of languages and facilitating language acquisition has been well documented for a number of years (Blin, 1999; Corder & Waller, 2005, 2007, Hoven, 1999, McCarthy, 1995, 1996; Levy, 1997, 1999).

This potential includes catering for individual learner needs and preferences, increasing motivation, and providing a good environment to foster independent learning. It provides the opportunity ‘ . . . to engage native speakers at a distance, to utilize authentic materials and to enable learners to interact with rich, multi-dimensional learning environments’ (Levy & Debski, 1999 p. 7), and hence have potential for developing intercultural competence (Levy, 2007, Liaw, 2006). It can be a platform for collaboration and peer support, (Farmer, nd, Downes, nd, FitzGerald, nd) , and for developing learning competencies including goal setting, creativity, problem solving and negotiation of meaning. In short, technology is a powerful tool to foster the development of the key competencies, and realise the principles and effective pedagogy outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum document (2007).

More recently there is the argument that technologies should be included because they are tools that are being used increasingly by our students (‘digital natives’), and that it will make language learning more relevant (Durrant, 2007, Tolosa, 2007). Just as it can be argued that development of key competencies is inherent in language learning (Crabbe, 2005, Corder and Moffat, 2005), it is clear that some New Zealand teachers see technologies especially the new and emerging ones, as a natural tool for language learning and teaching (Litwin et al, 2007, Mackereth, 2007).

However, it has long been recognised that for technology - whether it be a CALL software package, interactive whiteboards, podcasts or social networks – to be effective, it needs to be carefully integrated into the language learning curriculum and linked to learning outcomes (Corder & Waller, 2005, Hoven, 1999, Levy, 1997).

Technology itself will not bring about the desired learning, and should not be used without considering the pedagogical needs that it is fulfilling (Corder & Waller, 2007, Davies, 2007, Gilbert, n.d., Litwin et al, 2007, MCEETYA, 2005). Just as with the incorporation of the key competencies (Brewerton, 2004), there needs to be a paradigm shift in learning and teaching to a more holistic approach, a focus on the needs of the learner ahead of the technology, and to scaffolding students not only to be able to use the technology, but to be aware of it as a tool in the learning process, both to access and apply knowledge (Gilbert, n.d., Siemens, 2004). Thoughtful application of second language pedagogy is especially important as technology becomes increasingly easier to use for teachers (Colpaert, 2004). How to translate this into actual practice with clear links to learning objectives is the challenge. The following are suggestions with helpful tips.


Godwin-Jones, R. (2003).


Very simply, a wiki is a webpage that multiple people can edit. Some course management systems have a wiki function and the advantage is there is no need to learn 'wiki language'. It does mean that the blog is limited to the people on the course, and the advantages and disadvantages of this need to be weighed against using a public wiki site. The public sites are evolving and the Peanut Butter Wiki is one that does not need 'wiki language', operating just like a word document, and has features for educational use.

Examples of uses



Second Life

Stevens, V. (2006).

Managing the various tools

Staffing and Time

This involves issues such as the number of hours to effectively teach and manage the online activities. The online medium is often more time intensive than a face to face class situation, because it is often one on one, and not necessarily at fixed times. It is necessary to keep a balance between what staff can manage in terms of workloads, and what is necessary to ensure the student does not lose motivation and confidence.

Technical Tools

RSS Feeds

See Also


Blin, F. (1999). CALL and the Development of Learner Autonomy. In R Debski & M Levy (Eds.), World Call: Global Perspectives on Computer-Assisted Language Learning, (pp. 133-147). Lisse: Swets and Zeitlinger.

Brewerton, M. (February 2004). Reframing the essential skills: implications of the OEDC defining and selecting key competencies project. A background paper for the Ministry of Education. Retrieved on 1 August 2005, from

Colpaert, J. (2004). From courseware to coursewear? Computer assisted language learning, 17 (3-4), pp. 261-266.

Corder, D. & Moffat, S. (2005). Teach them how to fish – the link between portfolios and competencies. The New Zealand Language Teacher, 31.

Corder, D. & Waller, G. (2007). Using a CALL package as a platform to develop effective language learning strategies and facilitate autonomous learning. In L. Miller (Ed.). Learner autonomy: Autonomy in the classroom. Dublin. Authentik Language Learning Resources Ltd.

Corder, D. & Waller, G. (2005). An analysis of the effectiveness of an in-house CALL software package for the learning and teaching of kanji (Japanese characters) and the development of autonomous language learning skills. CALL-EJ Online, 7 (1). Waller.html.

Crabbe, D. (2005). The essence of learning second languages in the New Zealand school context. Retrieved on August 1, 2005, from

Davies, G. (2007). Computer assisted language learning: where are we now and where are we going? Updated keynote paper presented at UCALL Conference, University of Ulster, June 2005 and E-Learning and Japanese Language Education: Pedagogy and Practice, Oxford Brookes University, 2007. Retrieved on November 21 from

Durrant, C. (2007) Why use ICT? - The Otago Girls; ICT experience. Polyglot, 32 (p. 28).

Downes, S. (n.d.). [webpage]

Farmer, J. (n.d.) [webpage]

FitzGerald, S. (n.d.). [webpage]

Gilbert, Jane (n.d.). Knowledge, the disciplines and learning in the digital age.

Godwin-Jones, R. (2003). Emerging technologies. Blogs and wikis: environments for on-line collaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7 (2) pp. 12-16. Retrieved on August 6, 2007 from

Hoven, D. (1999). CALL-ing the Learner into Focus. In R Debski & M Levy (Eds.), World Call: Global Perspectives on Computer-Assisted Language Learning (pp. 149-196). Lisse, The Netherands: Swets & Zeitlinger.

Levy, M. (2007). Culture, culture learning and new technologies; towards a pedagogical framework. Language Learning & Technology, 11 (2). Retrieved on November 20, 2007, from

Levy, M. (1997). Computer Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Levy, M. (1999). Responding to the context of CALL: Directions for research. In Prospect, A Journal of Australian TESOL, 14 (3), 24-31. Levy, M., & Debski, R. (1999). In R. Debski & M. Levy (Eds). World Call: Global Perspectives on Computer-Assisted Language Learning (pp. 7- 10)). Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger.

Liaw, M. (2006). E-learning and the development of intercultural competence. Language Learning & Technology 10 (3). Retrieved on September 15, 2006, from

Litwin, G., Murray, F., & Scott, A. (2007) Let’s get digital: digital learning objects for languages on Te Kete Ipurangi. Polyglot, 32 (pp.29-31). Mackereth, G. (2007). Why not Wiki? Using Wikis for interactive learning. Polyglot 32.

McCarthy, B. (1996). Fully integrated CALL: mission accomplished. ON- CALL, 10 (2), 15-28.

McCarthy, B. (1995). Grammar drills: what CALL can and cannot do. ON- CALL, 9 (2), 30-41.

MCEETYA (2005). Pedagogy Strategy: Learning in an online world. Retrieved on November 19, 2007 from,11582.html#Informat 


Ministry of Education (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum. Retrieved on November 24 from

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved on August 18, 2007, from

Stevens, V. (2006). SecondLife in education and language learning. TESL-EJ, 10(3). Retrieved on November 20, 2007, from http://tesl-

Tolosa, C. (2007). Information technology. Mobile learning: why should we use the new audio technologies. Polyglot, 32, (pp. 24-25).