To recruit participants for the user tests, a pre-questionnaire, onlinen survey was sent to peers through a Slack channel. The goal of this survey was to prioritize diversity by gathering some initial and basic information on the potential participants, such as:
- how interested they are in learning Portuguese,
- what kind of language learning experience they have gone through,
- how they would rate their own skills/abilities as language learners.
Knowing the potential participants’ native language(s) was necessary to select a group with different backgrounds. Since that the DMDL course has people from various countries/cultures, receiving input from a diverse group of people would possibly enrich the collected data.
The degree of interest of a potential participant in learning Portuguese is likely to impact his/her motivation to be a user tester. Additionally, it may increase or decrease how much effort this participant would like to devote.
Finally, selecting users with an actual interest in learning languages could be helpful during further stages of development, or to create a small community of recurrent testers who can provide long-term, rich feedback input.
Experience with Portuguese
These three options reveal the scenarios that are most likely to happen. Knowing the participant’s prior experience with Portuguese learning is crucial to evaluate in which degree LanguageBug is responsible for the participant’s performance on the test.
This question allowed multiple choices and provided the potential participant with a series of adjectives to qualify themselves. The purpose was to identify, on a very basic level, each person’s mindsets and beliefs on their capacity to learn languages.
This is important since mindsets and beliefs are likely to impact the language learning experience by increasing or reducing “motivation, frustration and anxiety” (Oh, 1996; Kern, 1995).
Therefore, different learner profiles could emerge from this question, which would enrich the diversity of the group of participants in the test.
Prior experience with other languages (especially the Romance languages, such as French, Spanish, Romanian, and Italian) could also interfere with the performance of each participant.
The number of Portuguese cognates (words in Portuguese that resemble words in another language), for example, would be substantially higher for someone who speaks English and Italian than for someone who only speaks English.
Therefore, this question was designed to identify those who, albeit not having been formally or informally introduced to the Portuguese language, can extract (partial) meaning from written Portuguese.