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The Impact of Remote Interaction with Native Speakers of the Target Language on Oral and Aural Proficiency of Adult Learners, Randolph-Macon College

21 Sep 2015

Lead Investigator

Dr. Laurie Massery, Randolph-Macon College


The proposed study measures the impact of interaction with native speakers of the target language (NSTL) on adult learners studying Spanish as a second language at novice-high, intermediate and advanced stages of acquisition. This investigation overcomes deficiencies in current research which focuses primarily on small groups or individual learners and acquisition of one grammar point or use of specific micro-behaviors, as opposed to looking holistically at the impact that interaction with NSTL has on learners’ oral and aural skills during various stages of acquisition.

Unlike previous research, this study will employ a larger sample size and measure the oral and aural development of a collectively large group of learners, ranging from novice-high to advanced ability in Spanish. Participants will belong to either an experimental group or a control group, depending on their involvement in the research. Using the Avant Stamp Test, learners’ language skills will be quantitatively measured before and after treatment, following a pre/posttest design.

Results of the data are expected to show that learners at early stages of acquisition benefit from even minimal interaction with NSTL. They should also reveal that more advanced learners require regular contact with NSTL in order to significantly improve oral and aural skills.


The goal here is to gather and analyze data that show how interaction with NSTL impacts learners’ performance in aural and oral speech. We will recruit participants from already established courses in Spanish, including novice-high through advanced levels of acquisition, starting in Fall 2015. Spanish courses have an enrollment of approximately ten to twenty students per class, meaning that data from more than two hundred participants will be collected over four semesters.

In order to answer research question #1 - “what impact does regular interaction with NSTL have on L2 learners’ oral and aural development at intermediate-high and advanced levels of acquisition?” - all CGs belonging to post-intermediate classes, such as content courses9 and those addressing advanced skills10, will be required to complete two TalkAbroad conversations. All EGs at these levels, however, would be required to complete a total of seven TalkAbroad conversations.

In order to answer research question #2, “what impact does interaction with NSTL have on L2 learners’ oral and aural development at novice-high and intermediate-low levels of acquisition?”, the CGs would not be allowed to complete any TA conversations, though the EGs would be asked to complete two TA conversations during one semester. All participants, however, would be required to take the AST at the beginning and end of the semester. Following the design of Massery (2015), posttest scores would be subtracted from pretest scores, ultimately undergoing statistical analyses via a Paired-Samples T-Test.


Coming in Fall, 2017