What is intercultural twinning?
Intercultural Twinnings are exchange activities between students of diverse languages and cultures as part of their studies. They take place within adult-ed institutions, colleges, CEGEPs or universities. Supervised by teachers, twinnings are designed to allow participants to learn from each other, creating a win-win situation! The goal is for learners of French to practice and improve their language skills, but also to build bridges between students from different backgrounds.
History of the project
Cross-cultural twinnings have been enriching the learning of French language students since the early 2000s at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Nearly 12,000 twins have participated in this activity to date. Given this success, instructors from UQAM and other post-secondary institutions are eager to share their experiences through this site.
For many years, students studying French at UQAM’s School of Languages have been participating in intercultural twinnings as part of their coursework. As part of writing, grammar, reading or speaking courses, learners of French have been meeting francophones to experience learning activities together. But the goal is not just practicing the language. Equally important is learning more about the target culture and sharing together in a mutually beneficial atmosphere.
What do former exchange twins have to say?
"This activity is an excellent method for bringing students from different backgrounds together. Our conversations allowed us to discover our respective realities - and what we had in common. We had the opportunity to learn from each other – which can only make our society a better place to live."
"I now have the confidence to speak with francophones. Even if I have an accent, they can understand me."
"I sensed that my twin was happy to meet a "pure wool" Quebecer because her contact had until then been limited to her family, co-workers and neighbors, who are also immigrants."
"I really like this form of exchange, not only to meet new friends, but also to better understand Quebec's history and culture. I hope that you will continue to use this method of teaching."
"I found my twin (Gao) very courageous to have left her country to seek a better life for her family, when she spoke neither French nor English and knew she would lose some social standing. We often encounter immigrants in Montreal, but we rarely take the time to talk to them and learn about their history and culture. Immigrants have a lot to offer."
"Twinning has an important impact not only on learning the language and the culture, but also on professional development in a language class for those who wish to become teachers, as this activity allows teachers to think about how to bring culture into their language class."