Exploring the affordances of telepresence robots in foreign language learning

Liao, Jian
Lu, Xiaofei
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Michigan State University Center for Language Education and Research
The importance of authentic communicative practices in foreign language (FL) learning has long been recognized. However, most FL learners lack adequate access to authentic communicative environments in the target language. In this article, we propose the use of telepresence robots as a potential solution to bridge this gap. Telepresence robots can be controlled by remote language learners online, enabling them to gain virtual access to authentic environments in the target language and to interact with native speakers in those environments in real time. In this exploratory study, three English learners and a native-speaker of American English participated in a campus tour activity using a telepresence robot. We examined the experience of our participants and the conversational features of their telepresence interactions through analyses of the interview data, field notes, and transcripts of conversations captured on video. Our findings show that telepresence robots have substantial potential for promoting FL learning by providing authentic communicative practice for remote language learners. The findings have useful implications for informing future research design.
Computer-Mediated Communication, Language Learning Strategies, Distance and Open Learning and Teaching, Telecollaboration
Liao, J., & Lu, X. (2018). Exploring the affordances of telepresence robots in foreign language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 22(3), 20–32. https://doi.org/10125/44652
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