ERIC Number: EJ765888
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Acquisition of Requests and Apologies in Spanish and French: Impact of Study Abroad and Strategy-Building Intervention
Cohen, Andrew D.; Shively, Rachel L.
Modern Language Journal, v91 n2 p189-212 Sum 2007
The primary aim of this study was to assess the impact of a curricular intervention on study-abroad students' use of language- and culture-learning strategies and on their acquisition of requests and apologies. The intervention consisted of a brief face-to-face orientation to learning speech acts, a self-study guidebook on language and culture strategies, which included strategies for learning speech acts, and electronic journaling by the students. The study used an experimental design in which the participants, all university students (N = 86) who spent 1 semester abroad in a Spanish- or a French-speaking country, were randomly assigned to an experimental (E) group (N = 42) or to a control (C) group (N = 44). The findings indicated that the students as a whole improved their request and apology performance over the course of 1 semester, as rated by the Spanish and French native speakers. In addition, whereas there were no statistically significant differences between the E and C groups in their rated speech act performance overall, a qualitative analysis of speech act development among learners of Spanish (N = 67) helped to identify areas in which their performance on requests and apologies either resembled that of native speakers or diverged from it. Although fewer students than native speakers used the "query preparatory with verbal downgrading," there appeared to be some increase in the use of this strategy by study-abroad students from pre- to post-test, especially among the E group students, perhaps suggesting that for some of these students awareness about mitigating requests was enhanced by the treatment. In making apologies, not as many study-abroad students intensified their apologies in instances where native speakers tended to do so. Likewise, the percentage of study-abroad students who acknowledged responsibility for certain infractions tended to be lower than that of the native speakers, suggesting that these nonnative speakers were unaware of sociopragmatic norms for what might be expected in such situations.
Descriptors: Program Effectiveness, Research Design, Intervention, Speech Acts, Native Speakers, French, Study Abroad, Spanish, Second Language Learning, Learning Strategies, Student Journals, College Students, Foreign Countries, Pragmatics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A