Polish-Italian virtual exchange. Learners as teachers of their native languages

Anna Pieczka


This article presents the position of virtual exchanges and telecollaboration in higher education, as well as the advantages of their implementation. They are a part of virtual mobility and can supplement or replace physical mobility. Advantages that follow from virtual exchanges correspond to the latest guidelines on education provided by the European Union. Moreover, telecollaboration requires less time and money than participation in physical exchanges. Therefore, its implementation makes it possible to develop varied skills (e.g. language, digital and intercultural competence), regardless of the financial and personal situation of students.

The second part of this study presents the course and structure of the Polish-Italian virtual exchange that took place in the academic year 2018/2019 between Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin and the University of Turin. As part of it, learners of Italian and learners of Polish acted as teachers of their native languages. The purpose of research was to determine whether this form of virtual exchange can be successfully implemented among students of first-cycle degree studies. What was analyzed were online tools chosen by students to complete their tasks, the form in which language issues were presented to partners and code-switching during the exchange. The research material consisted of the students' written assignments and the forms of presenting knowledge used to complete tasks in the virtual exchange. On the basis of this material, it was concluded that giving the participants freedom to switch between codes did not have a negative impact on the project. However, it was also noted that students were not adequately prepared to assume the role of teachers. Despite their knowledge of various online tools, they tended to select those that were not suited to the digital environment, whereas the presented language issues turned out to be too complex for people with no teacher training to successfully explain them to their exchange partners.

Keywords: virtual exchange, telecollaboration, virtual mobility, Polish as a foreign language, Italian as a foreign language, online tools, code-switching, student as a teacher


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Anna Pieczka

The author participates in a combined program of doctoral studies in Digital Humanities at the University of Turin and Modern Linguistics at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. She teaches Polish as a foreign language and Italian. Her research interests include modern forms of technology-aided learning and teaching foreign languages, in particular virtual exchanges in higher education.

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Pieczka, A. (2020). Polish-Italian virtual exchange. Learners as teachers of their native languages. e-mentor, 4(86), 4-12.