Language Tandems. Intercomprehension and Language Alternation
The present study analyzed the discourse in three recordings made by two students who participated in the project Tandem, bilinguisme et construction des savoirs disciplinaires: une approche du FLE/FOS en contact avec les langues de l’ECO (2012-2014), coordinated by Lecturer Aurora Băgiag, PhD at the Iuliu Haţieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca. The discourse analysis looked at the manner in which the interlocutors alternated their mother tongue with the target language when learning a foreign language within a tandem. The analytical approach inventoried the dialogue contexts that determined the sudden shift in the language of communication, or the use of intercomprehension. The strategies of language alternation or the use of intercomprehension were related to the implicit or explicit objectives of the dialogue lines, to the speakers’ language proficiency and to the interest they showed in the topic of the dialogue. The study shows that the speaker who speaks mostly in their own language is placed in a more secure space and therefore can exercise a certain authority in relation to their dialogue partner. The analysis also points out that language alternation no longer functions when the level of language proficiency of the proposed teaching activity is considerably higher than the speakers’ language proficiency. Thus, the speakers intuitively turn to intercomprehension, a form of communication that enables them to have a more nuanced and developed speech, and provides them the opportunity for intercultural education.