Development of the Spanish Subjunctive in a Nine-Month Study-Abroad Setting
Casilde A. Isabelli and Chiyo Nishida
78-91 (complete paper
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In recent years second language acquisition (SLA) research has shown that study-abroad programs do promise significant gains in language proficiency and cultural understanding. However, SLA studies specifically measuring L2 grammatical development have provided conflicting evidence as to the superior benefits of a study-abroad setting on the L2 learner. The goal of the study is two-fold: 1) to present an empirical and qualitative analysis of the development of the Spanish subjunctive among language learners over a nine-month period in a study-abroad setting, and 2) to attempt to answer the question whether the input received in the study-abroad influences the acquisition of the Spanish subjunctive. The participants for our study consisted of 29 American advanced (third-year) learners in a study-abroad program in Barcelona, Spain (SA group) and two groups of 16 American students, one in the 5th and the other in the 6th semester of Spanish study (SH groups). Oral interviews conducted with the SA group at Month 0, 4, and 9 were analyzed to measure their development of the subjunctive skills in subordinate clauses. Our findings showed that this group made significant improvement between Month 0 and 4; between Month 4 and 9, they made more moderate progress. The comparison between the SA and SH groups revealed that the former group performed distinctively better in both producing subjunctive-related subordinate clauses and using the subjunctive in them. Nevertheless, our data also indicated that studying abroad for two semesters did not allow for most learners to fully acquire the subjunctive.
Selected Proceedings of the 6th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages
edited by David Eddington
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