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Pilot study on the effectiveness of cross-border e-tandem on language learning

Julia An-Lun Cheng
Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan


This paper reports a pilot study which implemented e-tandem in an ESL classroom in a university in Taiwan in the fall of 2022. The pilot study was a cross-border language exchange project, using online platforms as a means for English learners from the Taiwanese university to have oral conversations with Chinese learners from a high school in Texas, USA. It is not new to use e-tandem to learn a language from a native speaker, yet it is novel for two teachers from two different countries to cooperate across borders to include language exchange into their course syllabus, extending language tandem into a course assignment. 20 students from each country were paired to carry out eight 40-minute sessions of language exchange. The 20 students from Taiwan were from an elective writing course with English proficiency level at around TOEIC 500 or above. The 20 students from the Texan high school had had Mandarin instruction between two to four years with proficiency level ranging from high beginner to intermediate. Quantitative data came from a speaking pre-test and a post-test administered on the Taiwanese students. Qualitative data came from the open-questionnaires completed by both the Taiwanese and American students, as well as reflections from both teachers.

The quantitative results show a slight improvement on the speaking skills of the Taiwanese students. The surveys from the Taiwanese students also exhibit a general positive response while those from the American students show a more polarized reaction. The most significant insight is that around 33% of students from both institutions would have preferred a more task-based communication style than being left alone to devise their own topics. Both teachers have also observed the mismatch of proficiency level between the two groups of students resulted in Taiwanese students using English more than Chinese in all the sessions.


E-tandem, Language Pedagogy, Independent Learning, Online Language Learning, Curriculum Design, Cross-Border Co-Teaching

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023