Internet-mediated intercultural English language education in China's higher education institutions

Wang, Liang (2010). Internet-mediated intercultural English language education in China's higher education institutions. PhD thesis The Open University.



In the information age, the advent of Internet technologies has made it possible to transform language learning and teaching, through online intercultural exploration and exchange. The role of English as an international language in global communication is recognised in China's latest national guidelines for tertiary language curricula, which seek to develop professionals possessing both sound language proficiency and intercultural competence, alongside other goals such as information literacy and learner autonomy. This thesis examines the actual delivery of an intercultural dimension mediated by Internet technologies.

To this end, this thesis reports an investigation into the situation of Internet-mediated intercultural English language teaching and learning at China's higher education institutions conducted between 2008 and 2009. Multi-stage and multi-site fieldwork combined a survey approach and a collective case study approach. The researcher being the primary data collection tool, data obtained from questionnaire survey, interview (and informal conversation), observation and document collection instruments have been combined. The survey findings thus not only have breadth, but also provide materials for in-depth studies of sample cases.

Four cases, demonstrating a variety of institutional, individual, pedagogical and technological factors, are analysed at greater length to explore whether evidenced Internet-mediated practices might facilitate an intercultural approach to teaching and learning. Comparisons suggest that, despite their differing characteristics and contexts, there are some commonalities in terms of Internet-mediated activities entailing elements of an intercultural approach. These elements are synthesised and mapped out in an original pedagogical framework for Internet-mediated intercultural teaching and learning, with a set of guiding principles. This framework advocates establishing an Internet-mediated intra-class community as the basis for undertaking intercultural language activities, complementing the prevailing telecollaborative model for the development of intercultural communicative competence. This outcome contributes to a fuller understanding of the design of Internet-mediated intercultural language activities.

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