Language coaching for speakers of Spanish as a heritage language : novice-expert interactions via videoconference




Abing, Jesse Lee

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This longitudinal study examines the potential of coach-learner interactions via videoconferencing technology to facilitate language use and development in interactions of Hispanic heritage university students learning Spanish. From a situated learning perspective (SLA) (Lave & Wenger, 1991), the act of learning is evidenced by one’s changed participation in discursive practices of sociocultural significance. Socially-situated studies analyzing the development of Interactional Competence (Hall, 1999; He & Young, 1999) have found novice-expert interactions productive for SLA in both face-to-face (Yagi, 2007; Young & Miller, 2004) and computer mediated (Lee, 2007) contexts. However, no studies have examined the development of HLLs in video conferenced novice-expert interactions. This multiple-case study uses a sociocognitive approach (Atkinson, Churchill, Nishino, & Okada, 2007) to investigate changes in participation for six HLLs paired with a coach for approximately twelve 45-minute sessions over two months. Investigator, coach, and learner perspectives were triangulated for a holistic view of linguistic (e.g., interactional resources, use of English) and affective (e.g., comfort, self-confidence) development. Coaches assessed learners on an initial and final task-based (Willis, 1993) job interview roleplay activity, while the investigator’s analysis focused on change in participation vis-a-vis interactional competence in the opening portion of the initial and final task assessment sessions, where learners and coaches engage in spontaneous conversation before starting their task-based roleplay activity. In addition, learners’ perceptions of the experience and its impact were gathered in pre- and post-interviews and surveys. Overall, the outcomes of the situated practice resulted in changed participation related to a greater sense of comfort and confidence using the target language along with improved linguistic (e.g., fluency, vocabulary) and interactional (e.g., alignment activity) resources. The results of the analysis indicate that through recurrent, one-on-one interactions with the same person, the HLL and NS coach had the opportunity to deconstruct power dynamics and align more deeply as mutual interactors. At the beginning and at the end of the study, changes in mutual engagement were characterized by more highly coordinated turn-taking, increased interpersonal alignment and intersubjectivity, and improved conversational flow.


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