Developing University EFL Students’ Intercultural Competence Through Cyber Pal Project

intercultural communication skill. In other words, students must be able to communicate
effectively with native and non-native speakers of English as well as to encounter different
types of culture. However, they often have limited opportunity and exposure to interact with
people from the target culture and develop their intercultural Competence (IC) through
interaction either inside or outside of the classroom. In this digital era, the use of online media
becomes popular for any communication settings including intercultural communication. This
study utilized Cyber Pal Project (CPP) to develop competence through
online interaction with foreign partners. Applying qualitative method, 25 EFL students in Cross
Cultural Understanding Course at Universitas Islam As-Syafiíyah, Jakarta- Indonesia
participated in this study. Students are assigned to find and establish communication with cyber
pals within 6 months study period through social media platforms. This virtual conversation
focuses on cultural and social values. Data analysis includes the social media discussion of the
participants, questionnaire, in depth interview and reflection essay. This study reveals that CPP
can be an effective program for cross cultural understanding as well as
intercultural competence. Finding also indicates the importance of building a sense of learning
community and opportunity for students to exchange their views with speakers of the target
language. Despite challenges encountered during the project, students are reported enjoy their
new intercultural experience and have fun with their virtual English learning environment.
Key words: cyber pal project, EFL students, intercultural competence,



Tryanti R. Abdulrahman