Preparing Students for Successful Online Intercultural Communication and Collaboration in Virtual Exchange




Virtual Exchange ; Pedagogical Mentoring; Online Intercultural Communication


In the context of Virtual Exchange (VE) it is often assumed that participants will be naturally prepared to interact online successfully with their international partners. However, there is ample evidence in the literature to suggest that VE participants are usually unaware of effective communicative strategies in synchronous and asynchronous online communicative contexts. Through action research, this article investigates how teachers can provide scaffolding for both these communicative modalities in online intercultural environments. It reports on a qualitative content analysis of conversational and self-reported data from a corpus of three VEs that were collected and triangulated in order to identify when, in what areas, and in what ways students could benefit from pedagogical mentoring. The article then presents key mentoring stages and strategies that were identified and provides insight into the type of scaffolding that VE teachers can provide their students to help them achieve successful (a)synchronous online intercultural interaction.

Author Biographies

Begoña Fernández Gutiérrez, University of León

BEGOÑA FERNÁNDEZ GUTIÉRREZ, is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of León, Spain. Her major research interests lie in the area of virtual exchange, foreign language teaching and citizenship education. Email:

Malin Reljanovic Glimäng, Malmö University, Sweden

MALIN RELJANOVIC GLIMÄNG, is a teacher educator and PhD candidate at the department of Culture, Languages and Media at Malmö University, Sweden. Her major research interests lie in the area of virtual exchange,  critical interculturality, and global citizenship education. Email:

Shannon Sauro, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA

SHANNON SAURO, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), USA. Her major research interests focus on  the role of virtual exchange/telecollaboration in language teacher education and the intersection of online fan practices and language learning and teaching. Email:

Robert O'Dowd, University of León, Spain

ROBERT O’DOWD, PhD, is associate professor at the University of León, Spain. His major research interests lie in the area of Virtual Exchange and blended/ hybrid approaches to online teaching in university education. Email:


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How to Cite

Fernández Gutiérrez, B., Reljanovic Glimäng, M. ., Sauro, S., & O’Dowd, R. (2022). Preparing Students for Successful Online Intercultural Communication and Collaboration in Virtual Exchange. Journal of International Students, 12(S3), 149–167.