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Book ReviewInglês

Making Connections: A Practical Guide to Online Intercultural Exchanges

As I was reading the book Making Connections written by John Corbett, Hugo Dart and Bruno Lima, I was thinking why on earth wasn’t this book written 5 years ago, when my team and I were trying (in vain) to partner up with students overseas to have a linguistic and intercultural exchange.

This superb book was written for teachers and coordinators who are looking for an impeccable practical guide on how to run an online intercultural exchange for their language learners. It doesn’t just supply us with ideas about platforms that can be used, how to negotiate certain goals (i.e. institutional goals, intercultural goals, language goals and many others), ethical safeguards and security steps that should be followed, instructors’ and students’ roles, how to design intercultural tasks, amongst many others, but it also offers solutions for challenges we might come across, and ways of responding to complex problems that can arise when trying to put together a telecollaboration exchange. The authors provide lots of interesting suggestions, entertaining activities and tools that school leaders, coordinators and teachers could adopt throughout the process.

Apart from the great job done by the authors when presenting the contents at the very beginning of the book, in which they clearly indicate how to go backwards and forwards within the chapters according to what stage you are at while developing your online project, they also encourage us to reflect on the nature of interculturality and its role in education, envisioning the future, as some steps taken during the running of an online intercultural project can indeed address complex world issues. According to the authors, “An intercultural approach to language education encourages the development of qualities such as open-minded curiosity, empathy and respect for others, alongside linguistic skills. In addition to qualities that promote resilience in situations where cultures clash, an intercultural approach should stimulate learners to discover and reflect on their own culture as a means to better understand the world immediately around them.” Some of the skills mentioned here are on the list of the top skills needed for future jobs, as stated by the World Economic Forum 2023 (WEF). According to the WEF, “The rise of remote work means we need better ‘intercultural skills’ – this is what that means”. They go on to say that “intercultural skills help employees relate to colleagues of different and diverse backgrounds, guaranteeing a respectful and inclusive working environment. Moreover, these skills help employees to accomplish their goals successfully when interacting with culturally diverse interlocutors or audiences.” Therefore, this book is also a must-read, as the authors give us hints on how to develop intercultural communicative competence and the formation of global citizenship, as well as their primary goal, which is a practical guide to running online intercultural exchanges for language learners.

I highly recommend this book if you have any intention of running an online intercultural exchange. The book even presents ideas on how to build and analyze a digital corpus of interactions between the participants for our own research purposes. Where else would you find that?! Get your copy to check out the many other topics included that I haven’t mentioned here!

About author

Louise Emma Potter is a teacher trainer, material writer, and international presenter. She was born in the U.K. and now lives in Brazil with her husband and two daughters. She has been working in the education field for more than 30 years. She holds a BA in Marketing and Advertising and a post grad in Bilingual Education and Managing Innovative Schools having as areas of expertise material writing, teacher training, and teacher development. She now leads her own business at Teach-in Education developing the professional growth of language teachers in private and public schools through workshops and training sessions. She has also recently co-authored a self-published book called Project Based Learning applied to the language classroom. She has written a series of materials for young learners at Somos Educação writing for Sistema Anglo de Ensino until this present day, she has written extensive reading programs for FTD Standfor (Expedition), young learners materials for Pearson (Green house and Paddy the Jelly) and the books listed below for Disal: Atividades de vídeos para o ensino de Inglês, Atividades com música para o Ensino de Inglês , Guia para o Ensino de Língua Estrangeira e Atividades com Jogos para o Ensino de inglês.
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