What is it?

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."


Student in French as a second language program

"I now have the confidence to speak with francophones. Even if I have an accent, they can understand me."


Student in French as a second language program

"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."


Francophone student in Education

"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."


Student in French as a second language program

"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."


French-speaking student in psychology

"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."


Student in Second Language Education


What are the benefits of being twinned?

Exchange with francophones

For students learning French as a second language, the main benefit is to interact with francophones who come from Quebec or elsewhere. It’s also an opportunity to discover the richly diverse francophone culture and to learn more about Quebec or other francophone societies.

​Practice the French language

Twinning allows learners to practice their French, either orally or through writing, with a twinning partner. Orally, dialogue with francophones allows learners to practice listening, speaking and interacting in an authentic and productive environment. In the context of a written twinning (on Facebook for example), twinned partners read and write texts, or chat with their partners.

Interacting with francophones in a secure environment

Twinning encourages authentic interaction with speakers of French. Such interactions can be both fun and occasionally stressful for a second language learner. Fortunately, twinning takes place in a safe academic environment. Teachers, twins and even fellow classmates are there for support. Before, during or after an exchange, the language learner can ask any questions or voice any concerns to specialists (teachers) or to peers who are experiencing their own twinning exchange.


A pedagogical approach

Recognizing the specific nature of the twinning experience

Intercultural twinnings are exchange activities that provide a rich, complex experience - they are more than mere linguistic twinnings, they promote the coming together of people from diverse cultures. Discover the distinct character of intercultural twinnings.

Understanding the steps in the twinning process

Twinning activities cannot be improvised: they must be skillfully prepared and implemented to ensure that learning and intercultural exchange happens. Provided here is the list of steps recommended for successfully completing a twinning project.

Putting "winning" conditions into place

Intercultural exchanges don’t just happen by themselves. People from diverse cultures can meet without ever really communicating or understanding each other. To prevent, as much as possible, such unfulfilling experiences, put in place the following "winning" conditions.


Twinning news

Read about recent twinning news and events

Jumelage linguistique commerçants-étudiants

May 2, 2019: Intercultural twinnings at UQAM

A report on intercultural twinning on Radio-Canada

Are you organizing an intercultural twinning?

Our toolbox features videos and educational activities to use, as well as document resources that you can consult - material to help you better organize and guide your students’ twinnings.

Explore the toolbox