Impacts of Virtual Exchanges Using English as a Lingua Franca on Students’ Linguistic and Intercultural Competence

Nancy Dieu-Ngoc Nguyen*, Alex Leung, Hien Ho Thi , Thiet Nguyen Thi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We created an eight-week virtual exchange (VE) programme called the Virtual Culture Trip which enabled 68 students from seven countries to engage in online intercultural interaction under the guidance of educators. This study investigated participants’ perceived language skill improvement and intercultural competence (IC) after the programme, the change in their interest in the VE discussion topics, and the relationship between their self-perceived improvement and background factors. A concurrent mixed methods study was employed with quantitative and qualitative analyses conducted on the data obtained from the pre- and post- surveys of 48 students. The results showed that the participants believed that their language skills and the four IC constructs (i.e., knowledge, attitudes, awareness and skills) significantly improved. They also seemed to become more interested in the discussion topics as a result of the VCT programme. Some statistically significant differences were seen in the abilities to use the language between males and females and the interaction between gender and prior VE experience. Moreover, the interaction between age and English level led to the statistically significant differences in their perceived development of intercultural skills. The study shed light on how VE conducted through English as a Lingua Franca can be an enabling means to facilitate interactions across Global North and Global South countries despite challenges posed by geographical immobility due to resource limitations or a global pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTESL-EJ
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Jul 2024

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