Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Communication and Language in Virtual Spaces, January 2023  Pp. 3-16

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International E-Tandems: A Tool for Increasing Student Motivation in the Foreign
Language Classroom

Daniel Schug
CREA- EA370: GReMLIN Research Group
Université Paris Nanterre, France
Corresponding Author:

Thierry Torea
Department of Romance Studies
Cornell University


Received:10/10/2022         Accepted:12/06/2022                 Published: 01/20/2023


This study presents findings from an online collaborative project involving students learning English at the University of Paris Nanterre (France) and students learning French at Cornell University (USA). Our main goal was to determine the impact of e-tandems on language learner motivation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all courses at these two institutions were offered online, a move that greatly complicated the use of interactive group activities. This change represented a major threat to learner motivation and the development of communication skills in the target language. To counteract these effects, language teachers from the two universities organized an online e-tandem program; pairs of students composed of one American learner of French and one French learner of English had three virtual meetings to complete activities relevant to their studies. During these meetings, they were to alternate between speaking English and French. Following each exchange, students completed journal entries about their experience using the target language. Results indicated that the e-tandem program was a positive experience for students, with many reporting higher levels of intended learning effort and being able to see themselves as competent language users. These findings highlight the didactic potential of virtual exchanges.
Keywords: e-tandems, foreign language classrooms, languages for specific purposes, motivation, online
exchange, speaking skills

Cite as: Schug, D., & Torea, T. (2023). International E-Tandems: A Tool for Increasing Student Motivation in the Foreign Language Classroom. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Communication and Language in Virtual Spaces, January 2023. 3-16


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Received: 10/10/2022
Accepted: 12/06/2022   
Published: 01/20/2023 

Daniel Schug is an associate professor of English Language at the Université Paris Nanterre in Nanterre, France.  He teaches courses of English to non-specialist students in various humanities fields, including cinema, philosophy and literature.  His research interests include foreign language anxiety, learner motivation, and virtual exchange programs.

Thierry Torea is a senior lecturer of French Language at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, USA.  He teaches courses of French to students of various proficiency levels.  His research interests include teaching methodology and second language acquisition.