The Language Exchange Programme: plugging the gap in formal learning

Beaven, Tita; Fuertes Gutierrez, Mara and Motzo, Anna (2017). The Language Exchange Programme: plugging the gap in formal learning. In: Kan, Qian and Bax, Stephen eds. Beyond the language classroom: researching MOOCS and other innovations., pp. 127–140.



In the context of distance language learning, speaking is frequently perceived as the most challenging skill; this paper reports on a 12-week summer language exchange programme providing students with new ways of practising their oral abilities. Students who completed an undergraduate beginners’ language module took part in regular online, synchronous language exchange sessions with a partner.

This paper analyses the impact of taking part in a language exchange task on the students’ motivation. The mixed methods research included an activity perception questionnaire (based on Deci, Eghrari, Patrick and Leone, 1994) to investigate the motivation of participants whilst undertaking a specific language exchange session, as well as qualitative data from both the questionnaire and the project discussion forum.

The language exchange programme provides the opportunity for learners to take ownership of their learning and personalize it, and functions as a bridge between formal and informal learning. However, despite the enjoyment and interest provided by this type of experience, it is not without stress, and requires self-determination and autonomy to result in a positive and sustainable learning experience.

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