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Review of Intercultural Communication and Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Computer Science
Wordcount: 2643 words Published: 29th Jul 2021

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In our globalizing lives, intercultural communication has become a key component, but not everyone has the chance to participate in intercultural interaction with individuals from distinct cultures. As technology advances and becomes increasingly integrated into everyday life, CALL has diversified and now includes areas such as MALL (Mobile Assisted Language Learning) and OEP (Open Educational Practices). CALL is promising to create environments for individuals from various cultures to interact. In the next few years, we have scheduled several Virtual Special Issue (VSI) for the self-learning and language learning, teaching and prosody, Intercultural Communicative Competence and the acquisition of vocabulary (Stickler, & Shi, 2016). However, around language acquisition and mere use, a critical distinction must be established. While computer-mediated communication events and social media interactions may be more exciting and pleasant than traditional classroom-based classes, these kinds of exchanges often display liberal code-mixing that, while undeniably permissible if not compulsory in these circumstances, does not promote the pushed output that could motivate linguistic mastery (Lyddon, 2018).

This literature review was conducted to synthesize and uncover evolving topics associated with intercultural communication and Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). A thorough search discovered 15 works published within the last 5 years about this subject. Papers have been coded and evaluated to answer three main questions:

  1. What kinds of technologies have been employed in intercultural research?
  2. How Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has been efficient in integrating intercultural language learning?
  3. Are there prospective gaps and recommendations for further studies?

Technology Types and Environments Produced

There are distinct types of technology depending on the purpose and the type of cooperation. Some examples are telecollaboration, virtual exchange, the global learning network (GLN), eLearning, computer-mediated communication, mixed learning, and distance learning. They can also be clustered according to their structures. Such interactions may be well organized and integrated in the linguistic curricula such as mixed or hybrid courses, or more unstructured interactions with students such as social networks and public forums (Aristizábal, & Welch, 2017). Also, online interaction can be different, depending on whether they take place simultaneously (synchronously) like video or audio chat, or at various times, such as e-mails, forums for discussion and blogs. When the trend of online learning in the 1990s became popular, it was essentially asynchronous. Later, as the Internet speed evolved, communication became more synchronous like video conferences and text chats (Akiyama & Cunningham, 2018). According to Anikina, Sobinova and Petrova (2015) interaction happen usually amongst those who participate in assignments intended to promote linguistic and intercultural communication abilities. Although this definition seems accurate, considering the pace of technological developments and the distinct needs of virtual learners, modifications in technological terms over some time are inevitable. Given this, Akiyama and Cunningham (2018) say that the notion of telecollaboration undergoes a conceptual development that may require concomitant modification in the definition of telecollaboration.

Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) is of specific concern in telecollaborative exchanges in the social aspects of language learning and use because it involves engaging learners with partners from distinct socio-cultural environments and places in virtual collaboration to attain certain objectives for the teaching of languages (Vinagre, 2017). In the area of education for L2, it involves learners in global online communication and cooperation with members of distinct cultures and in far-off places to create both linguistic skills and intercultural abilities. Incorporating such activity into the L2 teaching has become particularly important in a globalized context where people are not only supposed to become aware of their cultural variations, as well as having the required abilities to perform in various communicative environments properly. The decisions made by people regarding the ways and means they are using to convey themselves are determined; however, it also develops in a dialogue with others that involves negotiation and a mutual knowledge (Lewis, 2017).

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Furthermore, CMC technologies are developing rapidly (e.g. online forums, blog sites, social networking sites, instant messenger, web-conference instruments, as well as email) and their popularity in the teaching and communication practices of present students. For instance, in literacy and mathematics education settings, Genlott and Grönlund (2016) used communication systems and enabled simultaneous classroom interaction and real-time formative teacher assessment. Cheng and Jiang (2015) created and launched an instant messenger-based internet platform to a context of art and design education. In Bachelor’s and Master’s dissertation procedures, Aghaee and Keller (2016) explored the use of web-based peer communication.

As language learning is essentially a socio-cultural experience, Networked Learning (NL) capabilities have been the potential for language learning in community environments. This has revitalized the previous CALL frameworks. NL has today enabled language students to connect worldwide, access Open Education resources and self-regulate their learning processes beyond traditional curricula. In parallel, the increasing prevalence and significance for language learning of Artificial Intelligence (AI) apps have resulted in CALL to become an Intelligent CALL (ICALL). AI research has mainly concentrated on cognitive processing. Integrating the affective elements of learning was a major challenge for AI. To address this challenge, the Kismet program was created at MIT in 1997 as an experiment in affective computing. The Kismet robot program was designed to study affective variables like self-identity, intent and compassion. Since then, encouraging reports have been published on the benefits of computer-aided translation in cross-cultural learning (Kannan & Munday, 2018).

CALL Intercultural Communicative Competence

Akiyama and Cunningham (2018) explain the relationship between online interaction and the development of intercultural skills, linking geographically remote foreign language (FL) learners with native speakers (NSs) /expert language users were somewhat impractical until computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools were introduced into the language classroom. As interaction with individuals from distinct parts of the world becomes more available and convenient, so do language learning possibilities and intercultural communication possibilities. Wach (2017) emphasizes the significance of developing intercultural communication skills among linguistic students via virtual exchanges, saying that prospects for intercultural learning may be facilitated through a multitude of in- and out-of-class assignments, creating a promising alternative for creating intercultural online collaboration. The comfort of virtual exchanges for language and intercultural learning has therefore resulted in several internet collaborations between communities from distinct cultures.

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Villar-Onrubia and Rajpal (2016) recorded beneficial results from an instructional project involving intercultural communication between UK learners and non-UK students who were suggested to improve intercultural communicative competence as well as digital competence by participating in the project. In their communication lectures, Liaw and English (2017) embedded an international telecollaboration project and claimed that the students, by choosing, reading, describing and presenting their selected items of particular importance, enhanced their consciousness of each other’s identities and viewed their interlocutors as genuine people of distinct cultures and languages. It was indicated, however, that intercultural exchanges are highly complicated and vibrant instructional contexts (Turula, 2017), not without major problems. Indeed, while favourable narratives continue to dominate, several latest articles document important pedagogical challenges when a Computer-Mediated Communication project is implemented in a standard classroom. For instance, Carr (2016) noted that some learners find it harder to access certain CMC instruments and that conflicting schedules between distinct schools make it a challenge for some learners to engage completely in multi-institutional projects. 

Critical Analysis

The literature has demonstrated its benefits, weaknesses or difficulties. In general, advantages were achieved through digital devices and intercultural internet or technology experiences and enhanced awareness of one’s culture and another. This evaluation provides several significant suggestions for individuals who want to use intercultural learning technology. It is essential to reassess what else this review may have brought to light before further research are carried out. One common deficiency in the literature was repeated interactions between comparable societies and groups of age or study, sometimes resulting in poor exchanges. Exchanges between distinct research environments will be much better for future methods. Interactions among profiles apart from undergraduate learners may also provide new insights for future studies. Furthermore, dominant aspects of language learning in previous research could have led researchers to restrict themselves; nevertheless, future studies focusing solely on intercultural problems and with students who talk English as a lingua franca could produce more fruitful perspectives on intercultural issues.


Intercultural communication and CALL are well-positioned because they reveal a series of issues to be taken into consideration. In terms of descriptive research, studies favoured certain environments, participants and digital instruments over other environments, and technology attracted a small but restricted amount of intercultural researchers. Since both technological advances and the educational implementation of these innovations are growing, it is ideal for academic researchers to emphasize the more subtle but significant cultural and social opportunities from the technological impact of their studies. Using these tools in such instructional conditions does not present specific technical issues for teachers and learners. As mentioned from the previous section of this article, many of the stories about CMC-oriented language teaching in the recent literature are somewhat optimistic regarding the current technological prospects, although less sceptical or receptive about the pedagogical significant issues which have been the emphasis of this paper.


  • Aghaee, N., & Keller, C. (2016). ICT-supported peer interaction among learners in Bachelor’s and Master’s thesis courses. Computers & Education, 94, 276–297. doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2015.11.006
  • Akiyama, Y., & Cunningham, D. J. (2018). Synthesizing the Practice of SCMC-basedTelecollaboration: A Scoping Review. CALICO Journal, 35(1), 49-76.doi:10.1558/cj.33156
  • Anikina, Z., Sobinova, L., & Petrova, G. (2015). Integrating Telecollaboration into EFL Classroom: Theoretical and Practical Implications. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 206. 156-161. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.10.045.
  • Aristizábal, J., & Welch, P. (2017). Rio de Janeiro to Claremont: Promoting Intercultural Competence Through Student-driven Online Intercultural Exchanges. Hispania, 100(2), 225-238. Retrieved from https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/stable/26387776
  • Carr, N. (2016). Pre-service teachers teaching about and across cultures using digital environments: The case of eTutor. Educational Media International, 53(2), 103–117. doi: 10.1080/09523987.2016.1211336
  • Cheng, Y., & Jiang, H. (2015). Instant messenger-based online discourse platform and its impacts on students’ academic performances: An exploratory study in art and design education. Computers & Education, 88, 315–326. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2015.07.007
  • Genlott, A. A., & Grönlund, Å. (2016). Closing the gaps – Improving literacy and mathematics by ict-enhanced collaboration. Computers & Education, 99, 68–80. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.04.004
  • Kannan, J., & Munday, P. (2018) New Trends in Second Language Learning and Teaching through the lens of ICT, Networked Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. In: Fernández Juncal, C. and N. Hernández Muñoz (eds.) Vías de transformación en la enseñanza de lenguas con mediación tecnológica. Círculo de Lingüística Aplicada a la Comunicación 76, 13-30. doi:10.5209/CLAC.62495
  • Lewis, T. (2017). Introduction to System’s special issue on telecollaboration. System, 64, 1–6. Lin, H. (2015). A meta-synthesis of empirical research on the effectiveness of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in SLA. Language Learning and Technology. 19. 85-117. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.01.007
  • Liaw, M. L., & English, K. (2017). Identity and addressivity in the ‘BeyondThese Walls’ program. System 64, 74–86.
  • Lyddon, P. A. (2018). From computer-assisted language learning to digitally mediated intercultural communication. In P. Taalas, J. Jalkanen, L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds), Future-proof CALL: language learning as exploration and encounters – short papers from EUROCALL 2018 (pp. 171-175). Research-publishing.net. doi:10.14705/rpnet.2018.26.832
  • Stickler, U., & Shi, L., (2016). TELL us about CALL: An introduction to the virtual special issue (VSI) on the development of technology enhanced and computer assisted language learning published in the System Journal. System, 56, 119-126. doi:10.101.1016/j.system.2015.12.004
  • Turula, A. (2017). Teaching presence in telecollaboration. Keeping an open mind. System, 64, 21–33. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2016.12.001
  • Villar-Onrubia, D., & Rajpal, B. (2016). Online international learning, Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 20:2-3. 75-82. doi:10.1080/13603108.2015.1067652
  • Vinagre, M. (2017). Developing teachers’ telecollaborative competences in online experiential learning. Special issue on telecollaboration. System, 64, 34–45. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2016.12.002
  • Wach, A. (2017). Intercultural experience in online collaboration: A case of Polish and Romanian teacher-trainees. TESL-EJ, 20(4), n4. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1137964.pdf


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