Álvarez Valencia, J. A., & Fernández Benavides, A. (2019). Using social networking sites for language learning to develop intercultural competence in language education programs. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 12(1), 23-42. DOI: 10.1080/17513057.2018.1503318
Álvarez Valencia & Fernández Benavides examine the influence of Livemocha, a social networking site for language learning (SNSLL) on the intercultural competence of undergraduates learning English in Colombia. They define intercultural competence as “a capability that enables people from different cultural backgrounds to interact, bringing into their act of sign-making their societal, cultural, and individual knowledge about the world to make possible an effective negotiation of meanings” (pp. 25-26).
They found that:
Students decentered and opened themselves to examine their own cultural practices, their own meaning-making processes, and those of other learners of Livemocha” (p. 38)
So the answer was that it had a positive influence on both attitudes and knowledge. There were some issues with what this particular chat system permitted, but overall the results were successful.
The State Department’s: Global Connections and Exchange Program just issued a Request for Grant Proposals (RFGP) that involves digital storytelling, social networking, and project-based learning. This is a competition for the Global Connections and Exchange Program, the Department’s “virtual exchange program,” meaning that most of the interaction between foreign and U.S. students takes place online.
The Youth Programs Division, Office of Citizen Exchanges of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition for two or three projects under the Global Connections and Exchange Program (GCE) in the following countries worldwide: Bolivia, Botswana, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Samoa, Tajikistan, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam, and the United States. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501c(3) may submit proposals to facilitate online and face-to-face exchanges between overseas schools and/or community youth organizations and counterparts in the United States.
The Global Connections and Exchange Program utilizes technology to create a U.S. presence in areas where many citizens may have little opportunity to travel or participate in exchange programs. Through web chats and discussion boards, foreign teachers, students/youths and youth leaders participate in dialogues with U.S. peers about their lives, families and communities. In addition, theme- based curriculum projects will increase understanding of issues relevant to both U.S. and overseas participants and harness their energies to effect positive change in their communities.
For details, please take a look at their Request for Grant Proposals, under Global Connections and Exchange Program. Multiple other, potentially relevant programs are also listed in that call for proposals.