Language, Identity and Positioning in Virtual Exchange

Helm, Francesca and Hauck, Mirjam (2022). Language, Identity and Positioning in Virtual Exchange. In: Klimanova, Liudmila ed. Identity, Multilingualism and CALL: Responding to New Global Realities. Advances in CALL Research and Practice. Sheffield: Equinox, pp. 24–48.



In language education, virtual exchange (VE) is hailed as a form of experiential learning that offers language learners opportunities for (semi)authentic interactions with peers, mediated by technology. In recent years, several formats of VE have emerged involving participants in different configurations (dyads, triads, small groups, facilitator-led, etc.) and adopting monolingual, bilingual and multilingual approaches to language use. This chapter, a think piece and thus a conceptual contribution to the field of computer assisted language learning (CALL), explores how – as a result of often implicit language ideologies – languages are organized (Kelly-Holmes, 2019) in VE. We consider how VE positions participants as language experts and/or representatives of national cultures or global citizens. We are also interested in how the framing and design of the exchanges and the activities participants carry out make these and other identity categories salient. Using two instantiations of VE models – Tandem and online facilitated dialogue (OFD) – as examples, we consider how participants might orient to or distance themselves from the aforementioned identity categorizations. We discuss implications of language ideologies on VE framing and argue that VE practitioners need to be aware of how these may impact language and identity work in VE, and to raise VE participants’ awareness to this effect.

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