Reaching 4 of the 5 ACTFL C’s with the Mixer Language Exchange Site

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Our language exchanges are facilitated by the Mixxer website that was developed by Todd Bryant, which provides a space and search engine to connect with language partners. More details/instructions are available.  For my beginning/intermediate Spanish language classes, students speak with their language partner first in Spanish and then for the second half of the class period, English. Students could have an assignment to talk about a specific topic – holidays, family life, etc. I prefer to be less restrictive and allow my students to talk about whatever they and their partner decide. After having used the Mixxer in my courses for nearly a decade, I now ask my students to prepare a list of thoughtful questions that cannot be answered with a yes/no but that might provoke conversation. Often the preparation of these questions calms fears of not having enough to talk about. I always remind students that they should be prepared to respond to the same question that they are asking. The ACTFL’s World Readiness Standards suggest that foreign language (FL) instructors incorporate the five goal areas in their teaching to prepare students to participate fully in the local and global community alike. The five C’s: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities are goal areas of learning that push the learner to engage with the FL outside of the classroom experience. The Mixxer language exchanges implemented in second/third semester language classes allow an instructor to incorporate four of the five C’s. (Connection with other disciplines is more difficult, though not impossible.)

Link to example artifact(s)

Below is a worksheet that a colleague of mine, Tina Antonicelli, created that I have tweaked based on the focus of the exchange (open, focused on family life, etc.). The top portion is a space where student can take notes about their language exchange. The form has some basic questions like:

  • What is language partner’s name?
  • Where is that person from?
  • Is that person in school?
  • Does he/she work? Where?
  • What does he/she like to do?
  • How is that person? (What is their personality like?)
  • Anything else?

The bottom half is for a summary of the language exchange. The summary might be something like the below only in Spanish: I spoke with Mónica. She is from Mexico City and is a university student. She…




Link to scholarly reference(s)

ACTFL. World-Readiness Standards for Language Learning. (10 Sept 2018). PDF.

Appel, M.-C. (1999) Tandem language learning by e-mail: Some basic principles and a case study. CLCS Occasional Paper, 54. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin, Centre for Language and Communication Studies.

Bower, J., & Kawaguchi, S. (2011). Negotiation of meaning and corrective feedback in Japanese/English eTandem. Language Learning & Technology, 15(1), 41-71.

Díaz, E. M. (2016). Expanding the Spanish classroom: The ‘Art’ in Liberal Arts. Hispania, 99(3), 436-439.

Lin, H. (2014). Establishing an empirical link between computer‐mediated communication (CMC) and SLA: A meta‐analysis of the research. Language Learning & Technology, 18, 120–147.

O’Dowd, R., & Lewis, T. (Eds.) (2016). Online Intercultural Exchange: Policy, Pedagogy, Practice. Routledge.

VanPatten, B., & and Williams, J. (2007). Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction. Mahwah: Erlbaum.



Diaz, E. (2018). Reaching 4 of the 5 actfl c’s with the mixer language exchange site. In B. Chen, A. deNoyelles, & A. Albrecht (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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