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

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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

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.

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  • 2011

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Pragmatic competence: the case of advice in second language acquisition (SLA) abroad

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Using Spencer-Oatey's rapport management approach, the present study evaluates the interlanguage pragmatic development of 17 native English-speaking American learners over the course of a semester in Spain, specifically in terms

Using Spencer-Oatey's rapport management approach, the present study evaluates the interlanguage pragmatic development of 17 native English-speaking American learners over the course of a semester in Spain, specifically in terms of the strategies they used in their second language (L2) to manage rapport in an advice-giving, oral role-play situation at semester start and semester end. To allow for a more in-depth analysis of the effect that a semester abroad has on Spanish L2 advice-giving behaviors, the learners were grouped into two distinct proficiency levels. Group 1 (n=9) represents learners who entered the semester abroad with a beginning to intermediate-low proficiency level and group 2 (n=8) represents learners who entered the semester abroad with an intermediate-high proficiency level. The results indicate that both learner groups had similar overarching behavioral expectations in this context. Specifically, both sets of learners expressed empathy, involvement, and respect for the interlocutor, while at the same time they used advice-giving strategies of varied illocutionary force to claim authority in addressing the interlocutor's dilemma. Both groups also balanced face sensitivities through strategies that both enhanced and challenged the interlocutor's identity face. However, it is argued that in this context claiming authority and challenging the interlocutor's identity face were permitted behaviors that emphasized the relational goals of the participants. Additionally, when developmental differences between the two proficiency levels were analyzed, the results showed that learner proficiency had an impact on specific strategy choices.

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  • 2011