Modern technology has provided foreign language teachers with several methods of connecting their classes and students to native speakers of target languages. Much of the existing research about these online conversations is focused on changes in students' proficiency or cultural sensitivity. Although valuable, the research is lacking in understanding students' experience online including positive and negative feelings, challenges, and students' overall opinion of the exchanges' usefulness. This study was conducted in an effort to better understand students' experience communicating online with native speakers. A third semester Spanish class at Brigham Young University consisting of 18 students was selected as a sample. These students were required to speak online with native Spanish speakers for at least 20 minutes in Spanish each week. Students completed weekly surveys, a final survey, and three students were selected for a semi-structured interview. This study was conducted using a mixed-methods approach, involving both quantitative and qualitative data. The data revealed common struggles that students faced during online exchanges, methods students used for coping with these difficulties, areas of perceived growth as a result of the exchanges, and social factors that had significant impact on students' experience. The study concludes with recommendations of what foreign language educators can do to support their own classes in similar online exchanges. Areas of further investigation regarding online exchanges with native speakers are also recommended.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





online exchanges, native speakers, target language, cultural sensitivity, cultural understanding, mixed-methods research, pedagogy, proficiency, communication strategies