Exploring the potential of Intelligent Personal Assistants on foreign language learners’ communicative ability
Developing adequate oral communication skills in a second and foreign language has long been a very challenging and anxiety-provoking task. Due to limited class time, few opportunities for interactions and practices, many students are not comfortable in using L2 for oral communication. Therefore, how to effectively promote L2 learners’ communication ability has been a continuing challenge for many L2 instructors. More recently, the emergence of Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) seems to generate some new directions for improving learners’ communication skills. More empirical research is required to validate its usefulness for L2 communication. Therefore, our study aimed to investigate the impact of IPAs on L2 learners’ communicative ability and perceptions of IPA-assisted language learning games/activities. Twenty-nine ninth-grade EFL learners in Taiwan were recruited and took part in a 5-week intervention consisting of five types of interactive activities with the IPA Google Assistant on Google Nest Hub every day. Both quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative data (in-class discussion, focus group interviews, and class observation) were collected. The results showed that the participants enjoyed interacting with GA because it created a less stressful learning environment and considered it a motivational tool to improve various language skills/knowledge. Furthermore, GA encouraged cooperative learning and promoted learners’ willingness to communicate. However, they suggested that GA should use simpler English spoken at a slower speed.