The acquisition of the subjunctive mood by intermediate-level learners of Spanish: the relationship between mood and modality

Document
Description

This study examines the effect that the modality (volition, doubt, emotion, belief, knowledge, etc.) of matrix noun clauses has on the ability of intermediate (second-year) Spanish L2 students (n=56) to properly produce the subjunctive and indicative moods, the relative order

This study examines the effect that the modality (volition, doubt, emotion, belief, knowledge, etc.) of matrix noun clauses has on the ability of intermediate (second-year) Spanish L2 students (n=56) to properly produce the subjunctive and indicative moods, the relative order in which students tend to most accurately produce the subjunctive in response to the modalities of volition, doubt, and emotion, and students' level of syntactic ability and mood development. Each participant took a test consisting of twenty questions containing various modalities intended to elicit either the subjunctive or indicative mood. Participants also filled out a questionnaire that was designed to ascertain the participants' level of formal and informal experience with Spanish. The results of this study show that a) when the subjunctive was the target response most participants favored the unmarked indicative mood significantly more than the marked subjunctive mood, b) students most accurately produced the subjunctive to the modality of volition (VL), followed by doubt (DT), and emotion (EM), which is consistent with Collentine's study, and c) students were able to process complex syntax when producing the unmarked indicative mood but not when they were prompted to produce the marked subjunctive mood. The results of this study show that pedagogical expectations regarding the acquisition of the subjunctive mood by second-year Spanish students may be unrealistic as these students were operating somewhere between the pre-syntactic and syntactic stages.