Heritage Language Learner Confidence Development Interlocutor Effect in Videoconferencing

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Lauren Hetrovicz


Over the past few decades, extensive research has investigated the impact of technology in the second language classroom; however, studies are scarce on the role of digital tools for the teaching and learning of a heritage language (HL). The present pilot study aims to fill this gap by examining the effect of two interlocutor types in videoconferencing, a trained target-language speaker on Talk Abroad and an HL peer on Zoom, on HL learner confidence development over time. Addressing this question is critical given that motivating HL learners and validating their linguistic and ethnic identities is considered cornerstone for HL maintenance (Sánchez-Muñoz, 2016). Theoretically, the present research is guided by the functional model of second language confidence proposed by Sampasivam and Clément (2014). In this study, the participants were students enrolled in a fifth-semester Spanish conversation course, who, throughout the duration of a 16-week semester, completed eight 30-minute videoconferences, four with each of the two interlocutor types. The analysis of the questionnaire data revealed that both interlocutor types, but most notably the HL peer learners, facilitated confidence gains over time. These results are discussed with an emphasis on their pedagogical and theoretical implications.

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