Competing priorities: Student perceptions of helps and hindrances to language acquisition during study abroad

  • Marcie J. Pyper
  • Cynthia Slagter
Keywords: Student perceptions, Language acquisition, Study abroad, Education abroad

Abstract

Multiple studies have investigated the effect of language contact on language proficiency, testing the assumption that the study abroad context means greater contact with the target language (L2).  Other studies have examined the context of L2 interactions, considering host families, contact with community members, and interactions with non-native-speaking peers. While these studies are helpful, larger scales studies are needed to determine how students are interacting with native and non-native speakers during study abroad.  The current study examines student perceptions of helps and hindrances to L2 gain during semester-long study abroad of more than 100 students studying Spanish in Spain, Honduras, and Peru. Participants completed surveys patterned after the Language Contact Profile of Freed, Dewey, Segalowitz, and Halter (2004) and took the Versant Language Test before and after their study abroad experience. They also participated in a post-program interview which was subsequently transcribed, encoded and analyzed.  Results suggest that students experience competing priorities in decisions governing L1 vs L2 use and that student intentionality is key to successful language learning.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Marcie J. Pyper

Marcie J. Pyper (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is a professor of Spanish and involved in teacher education at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Cynthia Slagter

Cynthia Slagter (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a professor of Spanish and has served as director of seven semester abroad programs as well as interim director of Off Campus Programs at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

References

Allen, H. (2010). Interactive contact as linguistic affordance during short-term study abroad: Myth or reality? Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 19, 1-26.

Brecht, R.D., Davidson, D. & Ginsberg, R. (1995). Predictors of foreign language gain during study abroad. In B. Freed, (Ed.) Second language acquisition in a study abroad context. Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 37-66.

Cadd, M. (2012). Encouraging students to engage with native speakers during study abroad. Foreign Language Annals, 45(10), 229-245.

Dewey, D. (2007). Japanese vocabulary acquisition by learners in three contexts. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 15, 127–148.

Dewey, D., Bown, J., Baker, W., Martinsen, R. A., Gold, C., & Eggett, D. (2014). Language use in six study abroad programs: An exploratory analysis of possible predictors. Language Learning, 64(1), 36-71.

Di Silvio, F., Donovan, A. & Malone, M. E. (2014). The effect of study abroad homestay placements: participant perspectives and oral proficiency gains. Foreign Language Annals, 47(1), 168-188.

Dörnyei, Z. (1990). Conceptualizing motivation in foreign-language learning. Language Learning, 40, 45-78.

Du, H. (2013). The development of Chinese fluency during study abroad in China. The Modern Language Journal, 97(1), 131-143.

DuFon, M. A., & Churchill, E. (2006). Evolving threads in study abroad research. In M. A. DuFon & E. Churchill (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts (pp. 1-27). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Freed, B. F. (1995). What makes us think students who study abroad become fluent? In B. F. Freed (Ed.), Second language acquisition in a study abroad context (pp. 123-48). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Freed, B. F., Dewey, D., Segalowitz, N., & Halter, F. (2004). The language contact profile. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26(2), 349-56.

Freed, B. F., Segalowitz, N., & Dewey, D. (2004). Context of learning and second language fluency in French: Comparing regular classroom, study abroad, and intensive domestic immersion programs. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26(2), 275-301.

Hernández, T. A. (2010). The relationship among motivation, interaction, and the development of second language oral proficiency in a study-abroad context. The Modern Language Journal, 94(4), 600-617.

Isabelli-Garcia, C. (2006). Study abroad social networks, motivation and attitudes: Implications for second language acquisition. In M. A. DuFon & E. Churchill (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts (pp. 231-258). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Kinginger, C. (2009). Language learning and study abroad: a critical reading of research. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kinginger, C. (2010). American students abroad: Negotiation of difference? Language Teaching 43(2), 216-27. Cambridge Journals Online. 9 Feb. 2009. Web. 30 May 2012.

Krashen, S. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. New York: Pergamon Press.

Lafford, B, & Collentine, J. (2006). The effects of study abroad and classroom contexts on the acquisition of Spanish as a second language: From research to application. In R Salaberry & B. Lafford (Eds.), The art of teaching Spanish: Second language acquisition from research to praxis (pp.103-125). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Magnan, S. S. & Back, M. (2007) Social interaction and linguistic gain during study abroad. Foreign Language Annals, 40(1), 43-61.

Martinsen, R., Baker, W., Bown, J., & Johnson, C. (2011). The benefits of living in foreign language housing: The effect of language use and second‐language type on oral proficiency gains. Modern Language Journal, 95, 275–290.

Martinsen, R. A., Baker, W., Dewey, D. P., Bown, J., & Johnson, C. (2010). Exploring diverse settings for language acquisition and use: Comparing study abroad, service learning abroad, and foreign language housing. Applied Language Learning, 20, 45–69.

Mendelson, V. (2004). “Hindsight is 20/20:” Student perceptions of language learning and the study abroad experience. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 43-63.

Segalowitz, N. & Freed, B. F. (2004). Context, contact, and cognition in oral fluency acquisition: Learning Spanish in at home and study abroad contexts. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26(2),173-199.
Versant Spanish Test Validation, http://www.versanttest.com/technology/VersantSpanishTestValidation.pdf accessed July 9, 2014.

Versant Spanish Test and ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interviews Correlation, http://www.pearsonhighered.com/versant/assets/Fact%20Sheet_Versant%20Spanish_comparison_to_ACTFL_Level.pdf accessed July 9, 2014.

Wilkinson, S. 1998. Study abroad from the participant’s perspective: A challenge to common beliefs. Foreign Language Annals 31(1), 23-29.
Published
2015-11-11
How to Cite
Pyper , M. J., & Slagter , C. (2015). Competing priorities: Student perceptions of helps and hindrances to language acquisition during study abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 26(1), 83-106. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v26i1.360
Section
Research Articles