I am not shy, I am anxious: Foreign Language Anxiety and Self-disclosure in intercultural Virtual Exchanges.

2019 edition

Marta Fondo

Since pedagogy tacked from teacher-centred to learner-centred approaches, learning has been seen as a process facilitated by the teacher and carried out by the learner (Lynch, 2010).  The possibilities brought by the development of web 2.0 information and communication tools (ICT) are nowadays playing a key role in supporting innovative teaching and learning practices (Lillejord Børte, Nesje & Ruud, 2018). In this regard, foreign language practices reached a different dimension based on the ubiquitous learning concept in which contact with the foreign language and culture did not require travelling abroad anymore (O’Dowd, 2016). An example is Telecollaboration in education: the use of computer and/or digital communication tools to promote learning through social interaction and collaboration among students (Dooly, 2017). The synchronous one-on-one modality through video conference is a rich environment for foreign language, intercultural and digital skills development. However, it is also a threatening context for learners as they are asked to disclose personal information in the foreign language to a stranger, what can rise their foreign language anxiety (FLA) levels. High levels of FLA can affect students’ learning process and performance (Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope, 1986)) to the point of provoking their dropout (Bailey, Onwuegbuzie, and Daley, 2003). This study aims to understand how FLA and self-disclosure (SD) are linked in personal and contextual levels from an ecolinguistics approach (Van Lier, 2008) in order to minimise the negative effects of FLA in this interactional setting where learners participate autonomously. The methodology of the study relies on the qualitative and quantitative data gathered during a 9-week intercultural exchange project between 114 undergraduate Business students from the United States, Ireland, Mexico and Spain in the spring semester of 2018. The students carried out five videoconferencing sessions with 5 different task types. The interactions between students were recorded and tasks and sessions evaluated by online questionnaires in each video conference. Students’ profiles and perceptions about the project were gathered through online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The preliminary results show a link between FLA and SD regarding learners’ profiles and context while learners’ interactions are now being analysed.