Fazal Rizvi, Joseph Lo Bianco, Catherine Wang, Trevor Hay, Rosie Barron, and Atiya Khan—The University of Melbourne
This study explored the potential uses of synchronous technologies for teaching and learning Modern Standard Chinese and English in settings that encourage peer learning. More specifically, it developed, trialled and assessed a language-learning programme involving the creation of a “virtual learning space” across schools in Australia and China. In this space, students with Australian and Chinese linguistic and cultural backgrounds were encouraged to assist each other in developing their linguistic capabilities and intercultural competence. The study involved a multi-layered approach, beginning with a survey of teachers to determine their perspectives on the potential uses of technologies for transnational learning and an analysis of previous emerging technologies projects. Researchers then trialled the language-learning program with three combined cohorts of Australian and Chinese students of various ages, meeting weekly in virtual sessions, attended and supported by a bilingual facilitator with expertise in teaching both English and Modern Standard Chinese. Through this trial, the study investigated the potential and challenges of this type of pedagogic approach, and offered recommendations for teacher professional development.