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Conference Papers Year : 2024

Assessing students' Spanish oral proficiency development after one semester abroad in Spain: A group and individual analysis

Anna Attal
  • Function : relator_co_first_author
Sara Fernández Cuenca
  • Function : relator_co_first_author
Minerva Rojas
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  • PersonId : 1183251
  • IdHAL : minerva-rojas

Abstract

The rapidly growing body of study abroad (SA) research suggests that short and long-term immersion in a foreign language is beneficial for second language (L2) development, particularly oral proficiency skills (Marijuan & Sanz, 2018; Serrano et al., 2012). This study aims to contribute to SA research by investigating the longitudinal development of Spanish L2 learners' fluency, accuracy, and complexity after a semester studying abroad in Spain, and how initial proficiency may modulate changes over time. More recently, SA research presented at the Residence Abroad and Language Learning: Where Are We Now? Conference (October, 2023) points to individual differences as the determining factor that can explain the variable outcomes different L2 learners exhibit as the result of studying abroad. With this in mind, our study expands on previous SA research by investigating how initial Spanish proficiency and total number of L2 hours while abroad may play a role in L2 oral proficiency outcomes at an individual and group level. A total of 15 Spanish L2 learners took part in a 4-month long semester abroad program in Spain. Learners' speech was elicited using the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) method, which was conducted at the beginning and at the end of the semester. Proficiency was assessed with a standardized elicited imitation task (EIT), and fluency, accuracy, and complexity data was coded using the audio annotation software EXMARaLDA (Schmidt, 2012). The transcription protocol we used was based on MacWhinney (2000)’s CHAT conventions. Fluency was measured through computing the average duration of filled and silent pauses. To track changes in accuracy, the number of morphological, lexical, and syntactical errors per utterance was calculated. Preliminary results from 5 participants revealed that the overall fluency of the participants increased, as seen through a decrease in the average duration of pauses (both filled and silent) from session 1 to session 2, however this difference did not reach significance (t = 1.56, p = 0.19). As a group, participants' number of errors (accuracy) also decreased from session 1 to session 2, but this differed greatly at the individual level with one participant showing the opposite pattern. Initial proficiency did not seem to predict oral development over time, despite previous research pointing to this variable as a strong predictor within a SA context (Zalbidea et al., 2020). Complexity analyses are in progress and are being measured through the mean length of utterance (MLU) and the ratio of simple and complex utterances.
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hal-04476928 , version 1 (25-02-2024)

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  • HAL Id : hal-04476928 , version 1

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Anna Attal, Sara Fernández Cuenca, Minerva Rojas. Assessing students' Spanish oral proficiency development after one semester abroad in Spain: A group and individual analysis. SLISE / SLINKI 2024, College of Charleston. Department of Hispanic Studies, Feb 2024, Charleston, South Carolina, United States. ⟨hal-04476928⟩
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