Digitally-supported language exchanges in primary school: The AlpConnectar project

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Luca Botturi
Daniela Kapler
Lucio Negrini


This article presents the design, implementation and outcomes of AlpConnectar, a Swiss project that exploits technologies for digitally-supported language exchange (LE) in primary schools. Launched in 2013, the project involves three Swiss cantons where different languages are spoken (namely German, French and Italian) and respectively taught as foreign languages since the third grade of primary school. In the first section of the paper the linguistic composition of Switzerland is briefly presented and the current methodologies and approaches in foreign language teaching in the country are introduced. After a literature review of online LE practices, the AlpConnectar project is presented, along with a LE example to illustrate how it works. The final sections present the results of the project, based on data collected from both pupils and teachers. The results seem to suggest that while digital technologies offer significant benefits for LEs, they are no silver bullet, and their impact depends on a number of contextual variables.


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Author Biographies

Luca Botturi, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI), Locarno

Born in Milano in 1977, Luca Botturi holds a PhD in communication sciences from the University of Lugano, Switzerland. He worked in field and research projects in educational technologies in Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Spain and the United States of America. He is currently Professor in Media in Education at the Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana in Locarno, Switzerland. With the NGO seed he is active in international cooperation as well: He gained field experience in Croatia, Macedonia, Ecuador, Mexico and Ghana. Luca lives in Lugano and is a proud father of 6 children.

Daniela Kapler, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI), Locarno

Daniela Kappler graduated in 2001 from the University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Italy, in Asian languages and literature, with a specialization in modern language didactics. She spent an academic year in China, a volunteering period in Russia and she worked for many years at an NGO in Italy. Daniela grew up bilingual (Italian and German) and has two (multilingual) daughters. She has had a long career in language and intercultural education and research, as well as in the development of teaching and learning materials.

Lucio Negrini, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI), Locarno

Lucio Negrini holds a Bachelor in Communication Sciences from Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland, and a Master and a PhD in education from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He was an active researcher at the competence centre for vocation education Leading House “Qualität der beruflichen Bildung” and at the centre for early education at the University of Fribourg. Lucio Negrini is currently senior teacher-researcher at Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana, Locarno, Switzerland, where he is head of The Lab for Technologies and Media in Education.


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