Although most agree that the study abroad experience is a crucial one in the development of second language skills, it has been difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about a student's improved skills that lead to this conclusion. The present study adds a new dimension to study abroad research by investigating students' phonological memory skills during study abroad. Nineteen native English-speaking undergraduate Spanish majors and minors who were participating in a 6-week study abroad program in Mexico participated in the study. In both pre- and post-program interviews, the participants heard 10 sentences out loud, each of which contained one invented word, and were asked to repeat the sentence as accurately as possible. Results reveal that although participants' ability to reproduce the target language sounds in the nonce words did not improve as notably as was expected, they were significantly more successful at imitating longer strings of syllables after studying abroad. The results are analyzed in terms of implications for teaching and study abroad programs as well as what role phonological memory may play in the acquisition of a second language.
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
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