This paper describes a research study that investigated foreign language students’ collaborative practice in a blended, authentic learning environment. A group of intermediate and advanced level students of Italian at an Australian university interacted and collaborated with each other and with a group of native speaker mentors through a web-based learning management system and in face-to-face mode. As part of the project, students were required to complete two authentic tasks designed according to an authentic learning framework. In order to complete these tasks, students assigned themselves into small collaborative groups and negotiated their roles and responsibilities with little or no intervention from the class teacher apart from the requirement that communication took place in the target language. This paper describes the different phases of the collaborative process and the strategies employed by learners to overcome some of the challenges and problems encountered. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for language educators seeking to support student collaboration and foreign language development in a blended language learning environment.
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