European Journal of Language Policy

A multilingual background for telecollaboration

Practices and policies in European higher education

European Journal of Language Policy (2019), 11, (2), 235–255.


The Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Project (TAPP) is a telecollaboration network linking European university classes with classes in the US and beyond for nearly 20 years. Such collaborations have enabled students to participate in realistic projects, fostering transversal and language skills – including English as a lingua franca – which are highlighted in university policies at European, country/region and institutional levels. In turn, telecollaboration can support Internationalisation at Home, along with virtual mobility objectives, increasingly prominent in European higher education.

Considering the grassroots nature of TAPP, whose instructors design their own partnerships and assignments, this contribution examines TAPP projects in light of language policies from a dual bottom-up/top-down perspective. Thus, considering the importance of language policies of several European countries involved in TAPP (Belgium, France, Italy, Spain), this paper analyses how TAPP teaching-learning practices align with such policies in terms of multilingualism and interculturality.

Attention is paid to students’ roles – subject-matter experts, linguists/translators, project managers, usability experts – and their native languages. Emphasis is placed on how students relate to English from their various perspectives as native speakers, second-language speakers, language experts or language learners. Lessons derived from the analysis of such practices can inform policy makers as they make provisions for Internationalisation at Home, mainly in Europe, while also introducing comparisons between European and US perspectives.

Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Project (TAPP) est un projet en collaboration à distance, mené entre diverses universités européennes et américaines depuis presque 20 ans. Ces collaborations ont amené les étudiants à participer à des projets favorisant les compétences linguistiques et transverses, dont l’anglais comme lingua franca (ELF), ces dernières étant mises en lumière dans certaines politiques universitaires au niveau de l’Europe, des pays, des régions, des institutions. D’autre part, ce type de collaborations vient satisfaire à des objectifs d’internationalisation et de mobilité virtuelle, toujours plus valorisés dans l’enseignement supérieur en Europe.

Si l’on considère le processus constitutif de TAPP, au cours duquel les enseignants créent leurs propres matériaux pédagogiques et docimologiques, cet article analyse ce projet à la lumière des politiques linguistiques, à la fois dans une perspective bottom-up, mais aussi dans une dimension top-down. En partant de l’importance des politiques linguistiques dans le Supérieur dans plusieurs pays impliqués dans TAPP (Belgique, France, Italie et Espagne), cet article analyse la façon dont ces pratiques pédagogiques sont en phase avec ces politiques, dans les domaines du multilinguisme et de l’interculturel.

TAPP s’intéresse tout particulièrement aux rôles des étudiants, des experts métiers, des traducteurs, des responsables de projets, des experts en utilisabilité et des langues utilisées. Nous nous sommes concentrés sur la place de l’anglais au sein de ces collaborations: locuteurs natifs, locuteurs utilisant une seconde langue, experts linguistiques ou apprenants. Les enseignements tirés de ces analyses peuvent être utiles aux prescripteurs concernant “l’Internationalisation chez soi”, surtout au sein de l’Union européenne et nous avons introduit des comparaisons entre l’Union européenne et les États-Unis.

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Author details

Arnó-Macià, Elisabet

Vandepitte, Sonia

Minacori, Patricia

Musacchio, Maria Teresa

Hanson, Joleen

Maylath, Bruce