Virtual Exchange

Virtual Exchange for Global Education in Foreign Language Teaching

In the winter term of 2020/2021, the Teaching English as a Foreign Language section offered its first telecollaborative teaching project. To date, the project has been conducted with institutions in five different countries (Brazil, Chile, Israel, Sweden, and Turkey). The project by Prof. Dr. Carola Surkamp and Fabian Krengel is founded on three current approaches of foreign language teaching: Global Education, Task-Based Learning, and Telecollaboration. Participating students are connected with future English teachers from different European countries via digital communication technologies in order to develop complex competence tasks. While creating these tasks, they rely on English as their shared lingua franca. The tasks focus on current global issues in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and can later be implemented in schools in the participating countries with the help of further virtual exchanges, thus avoiding the organizational and financial burden of physical mobility while still enabling authentic and meaningful communicative interaction in the foreign language.

Designing these tasks requires the students to compare the situations in their respective local and regional contexts to identify similarities, differences and potential solutions. Together with the requirement of fitting the final products to the educational contexts of all participating countries, these negotiations of meaning constitute opportunities for the development of an overarching ‘global competence’ (e.g. in areas such as information collection and processing, changing perspectives and empathy, understanding and conflict resolution, and participation). Furthermore, the project fosters organizational, pedagogical, digital, foreign language, and intercultural competences and attitudes in order to, ultimately, empower the student teachers to implement their own virtual exchange projects in their future as EFL teachers.

The pilot project has connected students of the University of Göttingen with pre-service teachers from Sweden (Uppsala University) and Turkey (Hacettepe University, Ankara). In the second run (summer semester 2021), students from Turkey (Gazi University, Ankara), Israel (The Arab Academic College for Education, Haifa) and Brazil (Instituto Ivoti) worked together. In the third run (winter semester 2021/2022), Göttingen students collaborated again with students from Brazil (Instituto Ivoti) as well as participants from Chile (Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia). The fourth run consists of another collaboration with students from Israel (The Arab Academic College for Education, Haifa) as well as students from Turkey (Muş Alparslan University, Muş).

From April 2020 to March 2021, the Teaching English as a Foreign Language section was financially supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK) within the program "Innovation plus" to design and implement the pilot project. Since October 2021, the further development of the VE teaching concept has been funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) under the project name "TKKG - Promoting Global Telecollaborative Competencies in Teacher Training" as part of the project "IVAC - International Virtual Academic Collaboration". The program runs until September 2022.