Using telecollaboration to promote intercultural competence in teacher training classrooms in Turkey and the USA
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Since advances in computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools have made virtual exchanges readily available in educational practices, telecollaboration has been gaining traction as a means to provide practical experiences and cultural exposure to language learners and, more recently, teacher trainees. Drawing upon Byram's (1997) model of intercultural communicative competence (ICC), this study examines 48 teacher trainees' interculturality through a telecollaborative project between two teacher training classes from Turkey and the USA. This study relies on data generated by the participants throughout this telecollaborative project: weekly online discussion board posts within groups of six and post-project reflections. Although developing ICC is an arduous and prolonged task, the data analysis suggested that the participants' experiences in this telecollaboration contributed to their emergent ICC through discussions on the topics of multicultural education and interactions with trainees from another educational context. Their intercultural learning is evidenced by their (1) awareness of heterogeneity in their own and interactants' culture, (2) nascent critical cultural awareness, and (3) curiosity and willingness to learn more about the other culture. Thus, this study implies that telecollaboration offers an effective teacher training venue that affords teacher trainees with first-hand intercultural encounters to engage with otherness and prepare for their ethnolinguistically diverse classrooms.