Engaging second language teachers in videoconference-integrated exchanges: towards a social constructivist perspective
Roura Planas, Sergi
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The questions addressed in this study arose from an earlier project which attempted to provide videoconferencing opportunities for Second Language (SL) teachers to engaging in bilingual “virtual exchanges” for their students (hereafter referred to as “eTandem videoconferencing”). This investigation was initially motivated by the interest on discovering why these teachers and their students did not take the opportunity to participate in the synchronous part of the exchanges. This qualitative study reports on the developmental paths experienced by twenty SL teachers from the US, the UK, Switzerland and Spain and their pupils in the process. It particularly aims to discover what teachers' roles emerge in the process. The research also focuses on how these teachers’ practices are consistent with a more social constructivist approach to Computer Assisted Language Learning. The investigation builds on Hartnell-Young’s theoretical model (2003) of teachers’ roles where computers are used. Data collection involves an initial survey, observation of teachers and students before, during and after the exchanges and video-stimulated recall interviews with the teachers. The research centres on critical incidents experienced by these teachers. Hugues' model (2009) of the expanded critical incident approach provides the methodological framework. In line with her model, the study has created a multifaceted word picture of these teachers, further characterised by a condensed set of critical findings. The teachers’ accounts reveal several incidents that inhibited or supported the teachers’ development in terms of how they planned the learning environment regarding the physical space, the virtual setting and the social environment and in terms of how they mediated the implementation of the exchanges towards a more interactive approach. In doing so, this investigation adds to the knowledge base available to educators and researchers by offering greater understanding about these SL teachers’ particular experiences.