Learning beyond the textbook: Developing dialect-specific grammar in a study abroad context

Indiana University
Augusta, Montana
DOI: 10.18258/1568
Raised of $1,000 Goal
Funded on 12/10/13
Successfully Funded
  • $1,069
  • 106%
  • Funded
    on 12/10/13

About This Project

Study abroad is considered a crucial step for second language learners. But what effect does the location abroad have on the linguistic outcomes of the learners? This research takes an in-depth look at how students studying abroad in Spain and the Dominican Republic develop sociolinguistic abilities that are not taught in traditional language textbooks.

Ask the Scientists

Join The Discussion

What is the context of this research?

This project is primarily guided by the following question: What linguistic and
contextual factors influence the second language development of sociolinguistic competence by students studying abroad in Spain and the Dominican Republic?

What is the significance of this project?

The current study examines the
factors that facilitate the development of sociolinguistic competence by second language learners who study abroad. Sociolinguistic competence is the ability to vary one’s language according to the speech context and includes the modifications we make to reflect the seriousness of the topic, the audience to whom we are speaking and our own individual characteristics. Although developing sociolinguistic competence is considered an integral part of successful second language acquisition, it is often difficult for the second-language learner to gain exposure to the range of speech contexts necessary to acquire this ability.

Studying abroad can potentially mediate these difficulties by providing the learner with ample opportunities for exposure to a variety of contexts involving the native language and culture. However, much of the study abroad research does not take into account sociolinguistic factors or uses holistic oral proficiency measures which do not specifically measure sociolinguistic competence.

The current study will improve our understanding of the second language development of sociolinguistic competence during study abroad by examining the development of the variable use of specific linguistic forms in Spanish which have been shown to vary across and within dialects of Spanish. The findings of the study will provide important insights for language educators, program directors and language students with regard to the specific language skills that are developed during study abroad as well as uncover the particular factors that influence the second language development of sociolinguistic competence.

What are the goals of the project?

The participants will be recruited during the Spring 2014 semester from study abroad programs in two Spanish-speaking countries: 25 students studying in Spain and 25 students studying in the Dominican Republic. Ten native speakers will also be recruited from each region. The participants will complete four research tasks at the beginning and end of their study abroad program: 1) a recorded oral interview in Spanish 2) a written dialect task 3) a short grammar test and 4) a background questionnaire.

The participants’ use of the dialect-specific grammatical forms will be examined based on characteristics of the linguistic context, the individual learners (e.g., second-language proficiency, gender, cultural sensitivity, contact with Spanish, etc.) and the study abroad programs (e.g., location, residency, extracurricular activities, class enrollment, etc.).


Please wait...

The funding will be used for travel costs related to the data collection. This includes air travel to Spain and the Dominican Republic, travel within these countries, and food and shelter while staying in the countries. This will cost between $1900-$2100 dollars to complete, but I am only looking to supplement the expenses related to the research. I have coordinated with the study abroad program directors regarding travel timing, residence abroad and data collection.

Endorsed by

I am pleased to show my support for this project!
This project is of great interest to researchers studying language acquisition and will benefit students who are learning a second language at home or abroad!

Meet the Team

Bret Linford
Bret Linford

Team Bio

Bret Linford is a Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at Indiana University. His main research interest is the second language acquisition of sociolinguistic competence in Spanish with specific interest in the effects of context of learning and individual learner differences. His most recent publications and conference presentations include research on the second language acquisition of subject pronouns in Spanish based on linguistic factors, lexical frequency and learner motivation.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail: blinford@indiana.edu

Bret Linford

I am a PhD candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at Indiana
University. More importantly, I am a happily married father of four wonderful children. In my free time, I enjoy playing racquet sports, hiking, camping and spending time with my family.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

Relevant research

  1. Bayley, R. & Regan, V. (2004) “Introduction: The acquisition of sociolinguistic competence”, en Journal of Sociolinguistics, 8 pp. 323-338 Freed, B. (1998). An overview of issues and research in language learning in a study abroad setting. Frontiers, 4, 31–60.
  2. Isabelli-García, C. (2006). Study abroad social networks, motivation and attitudes: Implications for second language acquisition. In E. Churchill & M. DuFon (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts (pp. 231-258). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  3. Mougeon. Mougeon, R., Nadasdi, T. & Rehner, K. (2010). The Sociolinguistic Competence of Immersion Students. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Regan, V., Howard, M. & Lemée, Isabelle (2009). The acquisition of sociolinguistic competence in a study abroad context. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  4. Vande Berg, M., Connor-Linton, J. & Paige, R. M. (2009). The Georgetown Consortium Study: Intervening in student learning abroad. Frontiers: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. Vol. XVIII, pp. 1-75.

Links to previous research

  1. Linford, Bret and Naomi Lapidus Shin. 2013. Lexical Frequency Effects on L2 Spanish Subject Pronoun Expression. In Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium , ed. Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro et al., 175-189. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
  2. Geeslin, Kimberly, Bret Linford, Stephen Fafulas, Avizia Long, and Manuel Díaz-Campos. 2013. The L2 Development of Subject Form Variation in Spanish: The Individual vs. the Group. In Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro et al., 156-174. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Cool article Speaking a second language delays dementias, even in the illiterate, study finds

Project Backers

  • 20Backers
  • 106%Funded
  • $1,069Total Donations
  • $53.45Average Donation
Please wait...