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TalkAbroad as a Component to a Meta-linguistic Approach in the Heritage Spanish Course, Biola University

18 Sep 2015

Lead Investigator

Dr. Julianne Bryant, Biola University


Research in the field of Bilingualism in the US has demonstrated that Spanish/English bilinguals are making a shift to English early in their educational experience in order to soften the acculturation process. This, however, has had negative consequences on their heritage language development. Among the factors contributing to disuse of one’s heritage language has been a feeling of inadequacy or lack of competence in one’s linguistic competence. Additionally, even though these students have a wealth of resources in their immediate community, in many cases, it is one’s experiences within these very communitieies that contribute most to feelings of inadequacy. This research project seeks to evaluate TalkAbroad as a resource as part of a metalinguistic approach to improving the linguistic self-confidence of Heritage Spanish students. The study will seek to address the following research questions:

This study will utilize a qualitative research method approach.


This research intends to investigate both self-confidence and investment in language practice, which are affective criteria. Investment, as described in identity research, is a changing component, as the individual chooses between opportunities to interact in a particular language in exchange for symbolic or material returns. Thus, it is important to utilize a research approach that will allow consideration of complex social constructs as well as the multiple variables of potential importance in understanding this phenomenon. Thus, data will be collected utilizing a qualitative action-research based approach, which will utilize meta-cognitive course material as research data. A qualitative research method is appropriate for this study based on the fact that this research focuses on discovery, interpretation and insight rather than on hypothesis testing. Qualitative research assumes that there are multiple realities that need to be discovered, and as this phenomenon under investigation deals with affective issues, a method of investigation that lends itself to interpretation rather than measurement is deemed appropriate.

Therefore, in addition to both mid-semester and end-of-semester surveys, the data to be collected and analyzed will be the course’s reflective journaling, blog posts and the actual interviews that the students conduct, record, transcribe and then reflect on. The use of multiple data sources and triangulation will allow a better understanding of the complex phenomenon being investigated.

All data will analyzed through the following process:


Research was completed successfully and results will be discussed thoroughly in an upcoming journal publication. A summary of the results: