Heritage Speakers and Translingualism

Identify real translingual practices in an interview with a heritage language speaker after rehearsing with a chatbot.

Assignment Details

AI Theme

Subject

Tools

Skills

Learning Objectives

Analyze various contexts in which heritage speakers use multilingual linguistic repertoires and engage in translingual practices
Design and ask relevant, appropriate, and open-ended questions that elicit meaningful responses from heritage language speakers


KEY TERMS

Heritage Speaker: An individual who is raised in a home where a minority language is spoken and who speaks or understands that language to some degree. Heritage speakers typically have a familial connection to the language, often learning it as their first language before acquiring proficiency in the majority language of their society.
Translingualism: Communication that transcends individual languages as discrete, bounded systems and instead values the fluid communicative practices of speakers who use a variety of semiotic resources to facilitate dialogue.
Code-Switching: The practice of alternating in speech between two or more languages or language varieties within a single conversation, sentence, or discourse. This can occur for various reasons, such as to express a concept that is better conveyed in one language, to fit into different social groups, or to enhance communication effectiveness.

Instructions

  1. Identify a heritage speaker of the language you are studying who you would like to interview. Depending on the project, this could be a family member, a neighbor, a university student, a professor, etc. Reach out to schedule a time and place to meet.
  2. Develop a set of interview questions by conducting research online and/or by talking to a librarian (do not use a chatbot for this portion of the assignment). If you are a heritage speaker, feel free to include questions based on your own experience of using your heritage language. For instance, you might develop questions based on daily language use, challenges and advantages to being multilingual, code-switching, or the transmission of languages to future generations. Remember to hold on to this initial set of questions.
  3. Rehearse the interview twice with a chatbot that is powered by a large language model (ChatGPT, Claude, Gemini, etc.) by asking it to play a role. For the first interview, prompt with: “Play the role of a [role] with [amount of years in the United States] and [personal experience, more details, etc.]. Your skills in [language 1] are better than in [language 2].” For the second interview, skills in [language 1] will be worse than in [language 2]. For example, here is a scenario involving proficiency in Spanish versus English. Prompt 1: “Desempeña el papel de una migrante mexicana que lleva 40 años en Estados Unidos y sabe muy poco inglés. Ha trabajado 30 años en un hospital como ayudante de enfermería y ya está retirada. Tiene dos hijos casados y sus nietas no hablan español. Te voy a entrevistar pregunta a pregunta. Utiliza inglés y español en la misma oración si te parece apropiado para reflejar cómo hablaría esta persona.” Prompt 2: “Desempeña el papel de una migrante mexicana que lleva 40 años en Estados Unidos y sabe hablar mejor inglés que español. Ha trabajado 30 años en un hospital como ayudante de enfermería y ya está retirada. Tiene dos hijos casados y sus nietas no hablan español. Te voy a entrevistar pregunta a pregunta. Utiliza inglés y español en la misma oración si te parece apropiado para reflejar cómo hablaría esta persona.” Add as many specific details as you can from your research.
  4. Part of conducting a good interview entails listening intently and asking thoughtful follow-up questions. It’s best to avoid asking all of your prepared questions one after the other; probe deeper into each response before moving on. Practice this with the chatbot. Ask a follow-up question or two with each response to your prepared questions. Take note of code-switching and translingual practices in the responses provided by the chatbot. Create a revised set of interview questions (keep a copy of the original) that incorporates insights from your rehearsal interviews with the chatbot.
  5. Now meet with the real person and conduct your interview. Have your questions printed out or written down (screens like a laptop, tablet, or phone will be distracting). Record the interview (with the person’s consent). Make sure to listen carefully and ask follow-up questions. Ask one question at a time.
  6. Transcribe the interview and edit for clarity. Make a list of all code-switching and translingual practices in the interview, paying particular attention to specific contexts or topics that trigger language changes.
  7. Write a brief (400-600 word) reflection on your process of researching, developing questions, rehearsing with the chatbot to further develop your questions, and the actual interview. Which chatbot did you use? How did the chatbot rehearsal corroborate or go against real translingual practices? How did the experience of interviewing a real person influence your understanding of the cultural significance of translingual practices compared to the chatbot simulation? Compare and contrast the qualities of the translingual practices in the two interviews with the chatbot and then in the real interview.
  8. Submit your initial interview questions, revised interview questions, the transcription, the three series of translingual practices (interview 1 with chatbot, interview 2 with chatbot, and real conversation with heritage speaker), and the reflection.

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