Developing Metacognition and Interculturality in Heritage Language Learners

  • Hui Ling XuEmail author
  • Robyn Moloney
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


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.


Heritage language learner Autonomous learning Chinese language Intercultural Metacognition 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Studies: Languages and CulturesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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