Linking Virtual and Physical Mobility: A Success Story of a Multilingual and Multicultural Exchange

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The article presents a scientific analysis of a practical application of multilingual and multicultural education at higher education, more specifically, the description of the eTandem project developed and launched by the Language Center of the University of Padua, which won the European Language Label (ELL) in December 2016. The project was selected and nominated since it provides a methodological approach and study strategies which favour multilingualism, mobility for young people and inclusiveness. The project is based on an online exchange between Italian students enrolled at the University of Padua and international students who will be coming to the University. It differs from many other telecollaboration projects in that it involves different languages, levels of language competence as well as various ways of interaction. Indeed, it implies three different ways of communication among participants: (1) one-to-one partnership in the students’ target language; (2) many-to-many interaction in Italian and/or English/French/Spanish as linguae francae on a Moodle platform and/or in a social Facebook area; (3) one-to-many multilingual interaction carried out by e-tutors in Facebook. They provide students with useful links regarding cultural events and things to do in Padua and its surroundings, as well as recent news and interesting linguistic and cultural issues related to different countries. Mobility, informality, autonomy, reciprocity, friendship, fun and multilingual community are the key words of this initiative whose objectives are aimed at developing linguistic, cultural, personal, social and digital skills in different languages, even in the less used and less taught ones.

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