National Institute of Technology, Sendai Natori CollegePosition –
Associate ProfessorTitle –
According to Thorne (2016), collaborative work and cross-cultural exchange between learners across national and regional boundaries using online communication tools are generally understood as telecollaborative exchanges. In the field of language education, since the beginning of the 2020s, due to Covid-19, educational practices incorporating telecollaborative exchanges have attracted more attention. This presentation shows that based on an online Japanese conversation session, which is called “Nihongo Hiroba”, held between technical college students in Thailand and Japan, how participants, who faced differences in language proficiency levels such as Japanese and English and differences in cultural backgrounds, coordinate their communication with each other and establish mutual understanding. Furthermore, based on this knowledge, we argue that this practice will contribute to the development of tutors from the perspective of improving the ability of students as supporters to connect with people who have diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
In this practice, participants meet online once a week to chat. The participants were Thai college students who are going to study at the Japanese Colleges of Technology, Japanese students enrolled at Sendai College of Technology, and Thai exchange students. The purpose of this practice is to provide Thai students with an opportunity to practice Japanese while providing Japanese students with an opportunity to coordinate their communication with people of various Japanese levels. Therefore, the language used is not limited to Japanese. If they cannot communicate well in Japanese, they may use English or use online communication tools such as chat and screen sharing.
"Nihongo Hiroba" consists of two activities: "Topic Talks," in which groups talk about various topics, and "Games," which can be enjoyed by the entire group. The "Topic Talk" aims to provide opportunities for participants to learn about different cultures in Japan and Thailand and to get to know each other. The aim of the “game” is to create opportunities for participants to speak out and have fun together, even if their language level is not so high and they are not yet able to speak a lot. This study analyzed Zoom conversations and surveys answered by students who took part to comprehend the outcomes and challenges.
Thorne, Steve L. (2016) Forward: The virtual internationalization turn in language study. In Robert O’ Dowd and Lewis, Tim (eds.) Online Intercultural Exchange: Policy, Pedagogy, Practice, pp. ix-xi. New York: Routledge.