Developing metacognition and interculturality in heritage language learners

Hui Ling Xu, Robyn Moloney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reports a case study project which examined tertiary heritage language learners’ perceptions of a pedagogical intervention, which embedded autonomous and intercultural learning in their Chinese language program. The goal of the study was to enhance heritage learners’ engagement motivation and performance in their Chinese language studies, through offering them autonomous learning tasks and reflection opportunities. Twenty student participants engaged in a variety of linguistic, intercultural and reflection tasks, across one semester. Analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data shows that students responded positively to the intervention and evidenced a number of important outcomes. The study demonstrates the role of reflection in developing metacognition. For heritage learners, the reflection was an opportunity for identity development and motivation. The intervention developed students’ capacity for independent learning and supported motivation and continuation to further study. The intervention was a catalyst for students to actively seek opportunities for interaction with the Chinese language community, using their family and community knowledge. The study shows the particular relevance and affordance of autonomous learning strategies for Chinese heritage language learners and has implications for all HL teaching and learning. The study provides new understandings of the potential and ability of Chinese heritage learners to manipulate, exploit, and extend their knowledge of two or more languages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of research and practice in heritage language education
EditorsPeter Pericles Trifonas, Themistoklis Aravossitas
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783319446943
ISBN (Print)9783319446929
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • heritage language learner
  • autonomous learning
  • Chinese language
  • intercultural metacognition


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