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The Effects of Study Abroad vs. Classroom Contexts on Spanish SLA: Old Assumptions, New Insights and Future Research Directions
Barbara A. Lafford
1-25 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Despite the fact that study abroad contexts have traditionally been assumed to be the best environments to acquire a second language, recent findings of Spanish SLA research carried out in classroom vs. study abroad contexts has challenged that assumption. Although most comparative studies have shown an advantage for the study abroad context in terms of oral proficiency, fluency, pronunciation, lexical development, narrative, and discourse abilities, classroom learners have been shown to be equal to or superior to study abroad learners in Spanish pragmatic abilities, use of communication strategies, and grammatical gains. This paper examines how these findings could have resulted from the interaction of cognitive factors with features of the context of learning (setting, participants, end [purpose], and norms of interaction/interpretation) during the acquisition process in these two contexts of learning. One of the main factors explored in this study is the possible existence of a linguistic and cognitive threshold that learners must obtain before going abroad in order to make notable linguistic gains. In the conclusion, the author notes the need for future research to take into account individual factors (e.g., personality, learning styles, cognitive abilities) as well as differences among learners in order to portray a more in-depth picture of the effects of a study abroad or classroom context on different types of Spanish learners.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 7th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages
edited by Carol A. Klee and Timothy L. Face
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00