A Case Study of the Factors in the Development of Spanish Linguistic Accuracy and Oral Communication: Skills. Motivation and Extended Interaction in the Study Abroad Context

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This study examines the impact of a one-semester study abroad experience in Argentina on the second language acquisition of five North American university Spanish learners. The goal is three-fold: (1) to measure development of linguistic accuracy of (a) tense selection, (b) aspect selection, (c) subject-verb agreement and (d) adjectival agreement; (2) to measure development of oral skills in performing the functions of narration, description and opinion; and (3) to relate patterns of social contact via analysis of social network logs to development in oral ability as measure by gains in linguistic accuracy and oral communication skills over time. The author submits that the two vital factors that lead to acquisition gains in the study abroad context are motivation and extended significant target language interaction with native speakers in social networks. The study shows through qualitative and quantitative data that those who had high motivation were those that had more extended networks, which correlated with gains in linguistic accuracy and development in performing discourse functions.


“This is an excellent work on one of the current trends in second language acquisition. The heterogeneity of the findings and lack of issues addressed on the research of study abroad programs makes this book very valuable for the field, and offers the reader an excellent overview of the topic. The reader will find the network logs and field notes very innovative for the type of ethnographic analyses carried out on study abroad programs which often show contradictory data.” – Alfonso Abad Mancheño, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Texas at Austin

“This book is an important addition to the body of literature on second language acquisition in the study abroad context. The novel approach of the analysis of participants’ diaries and social network logs to determine the effect of students’ motivation, attitudes toward the host culture and interaction with members of the host culture on the development of linguistic accuracy and oral communication skills will surely become a model on which other researchers may design their investigations. Additionally, it provides new information on precise linguistic and oral communication skills such as specific speech functions and flow and quantity of speech that may be developed in naturalistic settings ... ” – Professor Carolyn Dunlap, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Old Dominion University

Table of Contents

1. Issues, Challenges and Assumptions about Study Abroad
2. Study Abroad and Theories in Second Language Acquisition
3. Participants, and the Data Collection and Analysis Process
4. Quantitative Results and Analyses: Linguistic Accuracy and Oral Communication Skills
5. Qualitative Results and Analysis: Attitudes and Social Networks
6. Concluding Remarks

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