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The CrossCall project, based in University College London, links pupils in school language classes with undergraduates who are students of the language or native speakers of that language. They work on collaborative activities, closely related to the school syllabuses, using on-line communication via a dedicated virtual learning environment, under the supervision of their teachers.
It addresses the complaint from pupils that they are not taught the foreign language of the social and work contexts in which they really want to communicate. Furthermore, they desire more one-to-one communication with competent speakers.
Pupils of Russian, German, Spanish or Mandarin were paired with an HE partner. The language of this near peer-relationship was an innovative feature of the research. The HE partner was old enough and skilled enough to be respected as an advisor yet young enough to understand the pupil’s world view. There are social exchanges as well as teaching on linguistic and cultural matters. Analysis of the data generated led to findings on code switching, language choice, the written use of spoken forms, and strategies developing online relationships and “teaching” linguistic points.
Practical application; improved achievement, motivation and recruitment
The findings make a clear contribution to understanding and also have a practical application for schools and university language departments. Teachers and pupils alike report an improvement in achievement and motivation to continue study of the target language. (See Reports).
The project was initially funded by the CfBT Education Trust. Currently, the LWW CETL is funding the addition of Arabic.