Are Foreign Language Residences Acquisition-Rich Environments? Presented originally at American Association of Applied Linguistics, 2008 Cary Johnson, Jennifer Bown, Wendy Baker, Laura Catharine Smith, and Rob Martinsen Brigham Young University
Thank you • Center for Language Studies, BYU • College of Humanities, BYU • Our Research Assistants: • Soren Farmer • Carrie Gold • Jasmin Hammer • Alexander Ivanov • Taka Yanagita
What is Acquisition Rich? Not the typical initiation, response, evaluation seen in classrooms (Donato & Brooks, 2004) Natural conversation and natural feedback, practical language use; conscious grammar learning is de-emphasized (Horwitz, 1986) Students have topic control (Ellis, 1992) Negotiation of meaning (clarification requests, confirmation checks, and self- and other- repetitions) (Ellis, 1992) Regular and intensive language use, informal environments that involve the learner directly (Krashen, 1981) Encouragement to communicateand support for students to formulate utterances in L2;supportivenon-threatening atmosphere (Horwitz, 1986)
Background • Foreign Language Housing • 9 languages • This study • French • German • Russian • Japanese • 25 apartments • 1 NS and 5 learners per apartment
Participants • Paired with class-only learners, • matched by languagebackground, age, and gender • All college students ages18-26 • Total N=77 • 39 women • 38 men
Data Sources • Language measures i.e. OPI, Pre & Post • Language Logs • Language Task/Conidence Survey • Video & Interviews
1. Intensive Language use Three analyses: • Number of minutes per day spoken in target language • Percent of language use that is productive (vs. receptive) • Percent of language use not devoted to class work
Number of minutes per day in target language 242 (4 hrs) 2 ½ hours more per day!!! 91 (1 ½ hrs)
Number of minutes per day in target language by lang. • FLH • Non-FLH
Percent of productive language use Shaded portions represent tasks considered high in productive language use
Percent of productive language use by language • FLH • Non-FLH
Percent of language use not devoted to class work • FLH • Non-FLH
Frequency of Tasks by level Very often Sometimes Never
Comfort with functions at various proficiency levels Very Comfortable Neutral Very Uncomfortable
OPI Pre-Post, Gains 4 = Int. Low, 6 = Int. High
Statistically Speaking,Who improved more, classroom or FLH? FLH students in German, Japanese and French made greater gains on the OPI than Class only students. significant effect of group (FLH vs. CO) (F(1,43) = 4.69, p < .05) and L2 (F(3,43) = 4.97, p < .05) L2 by group interaction (F (3,1) = 7.439, p <. 05) For Russian, FLH and CO students were the same.(Small sample, hard to analyze)
Summary of Results Students in FLH……. Spoke significantly more Improved more in Speaking skills Felt more confident with a variety of language tasks. Living in FLH and taking classes provides advantage over just taking classes. Further research: Benefits can vary by Language. Certain tasks help more Why????
FLH vs. Study abroad Short-term study abroad is growing rapidly(Open Doors, 2007) Comparison of three programs Guadalajara (Spring), Service LearningMadrid (Spring), “Traditional”FLH i.e. Span house (Spring), On-campus Compared language use, Used language logs Compared language gains Used native speaker ratings Preliminary results……..
Language Use Overall speaking: The FLH group had significantly less overall time speaking than Mexico and Spain study abroad. No significant difference between Spain study abroad and Mexico. Productive: No significant difference between three groups used “productive” use i.e., outside of class time, talking to people Receptive: Spain group = most receptive language use. (i.e., in class and listening to native speakers), then Mexico, then FLH. Significant difference between the FLH and Spanish groups only. Ratio: Spain group = largest ratio of time spent using the language related to class time.Mexico and FLH = same amount of time in class. Class: Controlling for time in class, no difference between amount of Spanish used by the three groups! Students in Spanish house use language as much as in study abroad—Amazing!!!
Qualitative Data:Intensive language use Interviewer: What has helped you improve your language the most? Participant: Constant usage of language. Because I use it every day, 5-6 hours, it really helps.
1. Intensive language use Dinner conversations reveal few advanced or superior level functions Advanced and superior level topics were addressed but stayed at sentence (intermediate) level (e.g., like the classroom discussions reseached in Donato & Brooks, 2004).
3. Ownership Recorded dinner conversations • Nomination of topics • Wide range of topics, selected by all residents • Investment in topic • Dropped topics Interviews • Motivation, goals • “Being there” • Investment in topic Sample Topics • Politics • Tests • Plans for weekend • Daily happenings • Food • Dating • Jazz • Religion • Comparison among cultures • Healthcare • Justice
3. Ownership • Motivation and goals • To become fluent • To build vocabulary • To build confidence
3. Ownership • “Being there” • “It’s harder when the most advanced speakers go to the library. It’s hard because it leaves us beginners at home and sometimes we switch into English because we don’t know how to say it in Japanese.” • “It’s pretty much just eat and go.” (Russian house) • “We get ready for dinner and then have dinner. Then a bunch of the boys play foosball and some of the girls too.” (French House) • “Dinner is thirty minutes to an hour, usually closer to an hour.” (French House)
3. Ownership • Investment in topic • It’s better for me to talk about something that I’m interested in because I have more to say. It’s hard if I don’t know very much about the topic, but it’s good for me to do it. • A lot of people like to talk about politics, but I’m not very political.
4. Community • Supportive environment • “[The French House]” is probably my favorite place. Everyone is really open. I can be myself. I don’t have any inhibitions. It’s great because I don’t have to worry.” • “Everyone is very accepting. It’s nice to know that I can make a mistake and learn from it, and we all help each other.” (French House) • “It’s a comfortable environment, you can speak without being judged. I don’t mind being corrected by friends in FLH, in class I don’t like to get corrected because I don’t know them.” (French House) • “In the FLH I don’t feel the need to be perfect and my confidence has improved.”
4. Community • Non-supportive environment • Russian house: “I’ve been having fun correcting Calvin’s errors. He’s pretty good at taking it, too. New person, new errors to correct, yeah.” (Nigel) • Russian house: “We don’t not get along, but we don’t get along.”
4. Community • Common goals • “We’re all here to learn the language. We have to keep in mind that we are here to learn French. We have more motivation [than students on study abroad].” • “I spoke more English in study abroad than I wanted to because of the group. In FLH everyone is committed to speaking the language.” (French House)
Conclusion: Acquisition Rich Our perspective • Intensive language use • Negotiation of meaning/Scaffolding • Ownership and Investment • Community Students’ Perspective 1. Similar goals for learners 2. Supportive environment 3. Vocabulary help 4. Lots of chances to talk 5. Lots of activities together