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Exploring the role of modality: L2-heritage learner interactions in the Spanish language classroom Melissa A. Bowles University of.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring the role of modality: L2-heritage learner interactions in the Spanish language classroom Melissa A. Bowles University of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring the role of modality: L2-heritage learner interactions in the Spanish language classroom Melissa A. Bowles University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Summer Heritage Language Research Institute June 22-26, 2009

2 1. Theoretical background Interaction Hypothesis (Long, 1996) – conversational interaction facilitates L2 development Claims consistently supported by SLA research Both short-term and long-term gains from conversational interaction with native speakers (Mackey & Goo, 2007)

3 2. Learner-learner interactions Most studies have examined benefits for NS-NNS interactions, but what about foreign language classrooms? NNS-NNS interactions far more frequent than NS-NNS due to student/teacher ratio Many opportunities also occur in NNS-NNS interactions (Adams, 2007; García-Mayo & Pica, 2000; Gass & Varonis, 1985; Mackey, Oliver, & Leeman, 2003; Pica, Lincoln-Porter, Paninos, & Linnell, 1996)

4 Specifically, learners provide each other comprehensible input opportunities to negotiate for meaning opportunities to produce modified output

5 Differences between NS-NNS and NNS-NNS interactions But NNS-NNS and NS-NNS interactions are not equal in all ways: (-) Learners do not always provide each other targetlike input (=errors) (Adams, 2007) (+) Learners produce more output with NNS than with NS (Adams, 2007; Pica et al., 1996)

6 Negotiation between learners = more variable than with NS Deals with lexicon more frequently than morphosyntax (Buckwalter, 2001; García- Mayo & Pica, 2000; Williams, 1999) Less consistent provision of feedback than in teacher-student interactions (Toth, 2008)

7 3. Language-related episodes (LREs) One benefit of interaction is that it provides learners an opportunity to attend to issues of linguistic form while engaging in meaningful communication Occasions when learners attend to form during interaction are referred to as form-focused episodes (FFEs) or language-related episodes (LREs)

8 LREs defined: “all interaction in which learners draw attention to form, that is, those that focus on form in the context of meaningful interaction as well as those that are set apart from such communication and simply revolve around questions of form itself” (Williams, 1999: 595)

9 Frequency/occurrence of LREs LREs occur frequently in classroom contexts (Ellis, Basturkmen, & Loewen, 2001a, 2001b; Loewen, 2003, 2004; Swain & Lapkin, 1998, 2001, 2002; Williams, 1999, 2001) and are investigated as a site where L2 learning/development can occur

10 Instructional context Spanish language classrooms in the US Historically – instruction focused on monolingually-raised English speakers (Valdés, 2006) Currently – most Spanish foreign language classes enroll both L1 English speakers and heritage speakers of Spanish

11 A heritage learner is “a student who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language” (Valdés, 2001: 1).

12 Heritage learners do not comprise a homogenous group (Kanno, Hasegawa, Ikeda, Ito & Long, 2008) Range of abilities in English and in Spanish Emphasis on the importance of describing the characteristics of this sample of learners

13 Linguistic profile of heritage learners Phonetic advantage over L2 learners = even the least proficient speakers are often perceived to have a native-like accent (Polinsky & Kagan, 2007)

14 Grammatical competence Incomplete acquisition of some aspects of morphosyntax Gender agreement (Montrul, Foote, & Perpiñán, 2008; Polinsky, 2006) Tense/aspect/mood (Lynch, 1999; Montrul, 2002, 2007; Pereltsvaig, 2008; Polinsky, 1997, 2006; Silva-Corvalán, 1994) Differential Object Marking (Montrul & Bowles, 2008) Many gaps in heritage learners’ morphosyntactic knowledge are also problem areas for L2 learners of Spanish (Montrul, Foote, & Perpiñán, 2008)

15 Despite calls for special Spanish for Native Speaker classes, only 18% of colleges have separate tracks for L2 and heritage learners (Ingold, Rivers, Tesser, & Ashby, 2002) So…In the majority of cases, L2 and heritage learners are enrolled in the same classes

16 Despite this instructional reality, just one study on paired interactions of L2- HL learners exists (Blake & Zyzik, 2003) Examined chat-based interactions of 11 HL-L2 pairs engaged in a jigsaw task Laboratory-based study with learners at all different proficiency levels who did not know each other prior to study

17 Descriptive in nature (no inferential statistics) HL learners assisted partners more than the reverse = greater linguistic benefits for L2 learners HL learners did report benefiting from interacting with L2 learners, where they served as a “respected source of information”

18 Study Goals To explore the interactions of mixed L2-HL pairs in Spanish language classrooms using the framework of the Interaction Hypothesis Are the benefits one-sided in these mixed interactions?

19 Research Questions Do language-related episodes occur in L2-HL dyads? If such opportunities do occur, 1.Does one learner (L2 or HL) initiate more LREs than the other? 2.Does one learner’s (L2 or HL) LREs get resolved more often than the other’s? 3.Does one learner’s (L2 or HL) LREs get resolved in a more targetlike way than the other’s?

20 Method 24 learners enrolled in an intermediate-level (fifth- semester) Spanish class at a large Midwestern US public university Second-language learners (N=12) Monolingually-raised English speakers born in the US Did not have Spanish language instruction until high school or college Heritage language learners (N=12) Bilingually-raised Spanish/English speakers born in the US Had at least one parent from a Spanish-speaking country Reported speaking both Spanish and English at home growing up English-dominant at present, but all reported that they continued to interact with at least one family member in Spanish on a regular basis

21 Distribution of learners into pairs

22 None of the participants had ever been enrolled in bilingual education or dual-immersion courses All had been placed into the fifth- semester class for the study by a) Score on a university-administered placement test OR b) Progression through the course sequence

23 While looking at only one drawing each, the partners must describe their pictures to each other and determine the similarities and differences between them: Learner A Learner B

24 Coding scheme All LREs identified and coded according to Which learner initiated the focus on form L2, HL Linguistic focus Grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation Resolution Resolved, unresolved Targetlikeness of resolved LREs More targetlike (if the outcome of the LRE was more targetlike than the trigger), Less targetlike (if the outcome of the LRE was equally as non-targetlike or less targetlike than the trigger

25 All data coded by 2 raters until 100% agreement was reached

26 Results Do language-related episodes occur in L2-HL dyads? 62 total LREs Mean = 5.16 LREs per dyad Range = 1-13 per dyad


28 1. Does one learner (L2 or HL) initiate more language-related episodes than the other?

29 t(11)=.638, p=.536

30 2.Does one learner’s (L2 or HL) language-related episodes get resolved more often than the other’s? Each LRE was tallied based on which learner initiated it (HL or L2) and based on whether it was resolved or unresolved 2x2 contingency table produced

31 LRE Initiator HL n % L2 n % Total (n) LRE Resolution Resolved28 (82)28 (100)56 Unresolved6 (18)0 (0)6

32 Because one cell had a frequency of < 5, a Fisher’s exact test was used instead of a Chi square Results showed that L2 learners’ LREs were indeed resolved significantly more often than those of HL learners (p=0.022) Effect size was moderate (Cramer’s V = 0.297)

33 3.Does one learner’s (L2 or HL) language-related episodes get resolved in a more targetlike way than the other’s? Resolved LREs (N=51) were examined in detail

34 LRE Initiator HL n % L2 n % Total (n) Nature of LRE Resolution More targetlike17 (68)24 (92)41 Less targetlike8 (32)2 (8)10

35 Fisher’s exact test used instead of a Chi square Results showed that L2 learners’ LREs were resolved in a more targetlike way significantly more often than those of HL learners (p=0.038) Effect size was moderate (Cramer’s V = 0.306)

36 Discussion Learners did focus on form in the two- way information gap task L2 and HL learners initiated a similar number of LREs Suggests that one type of learner did not dominate the task, although there were differences between L2 and HL learners

37 LREs initiated by L2 learners were resolved more often and in a more targetlike way than those initiated by HL learners. HL learners in the mixed L2-HL pairs in the intermediate Spanish class in this study were less likely to have their language-related issues resolved.

38 Even when they were resolved, the resolution was more likely to be less targetlike than resolutions of LREs initiated by L2 learners

39 Vocabulary-focused LREs A closer examination reveals that L2 learners may have benefited more because they were largely unfamiliar with the lexical set, whereas their HL interlocutors were more familiar with these home-related vocabulary words.

40 An HL learner providing a targetlike word for the L2 learner’s circumlocution: L2: Uh, en mi cocina, tengo una tapa para uh,el café uh, en la alacena derecha. ‘Uh, in my kitchen, I have a cover for, uh, coffee, on the right-hand counter.’ HL: Perdón, ¿qué? ‘Excuse me, what?’ L2: Una, para café, para beber café, una… ‘A, for coffee, to drink coffee, a …’ HL: ¿Una taza? ‘A mug?’ L2: Sí. ‘Yes.’

41 But HL learners did sometimes benefit from their L2 partners Benefits not entirely one-sided, even for vocabulary-focused LREs on this lexical set

42 An HL learner providing a word for an L2 learner HL:No, no la tengo. No tengo una cuchara. ¿Tienes, eh, una cubeta junto al refrigerador?‘ No, I do not have it. I have a spoon. Do you have, uh, a bucket next to the refrigerator? L2:No sé qué es cubeta. ‘I don’t know what ‘bucket’ means.’ HL:Una, una…es para limpiar. ‘A, a…it is for cleaning.’ L2:¿Para limpiar el piso? ‘To clean the floor?’ HL:Sí. ‘Yes.’ L2:¿Como una escoba, para…? ‘Like a broom, to…?’ HL:No, no [laughs]. Una… ‘No, no. A…’ L2:¿Cómo se llama? ¿Otra palabra? ‘What is it called? Another word?’

43 HL:¿Cubeta? ‘Bucket?’ L2:¿Qué es? ¿Para qué se usa? ‘What is it? What is it used for?’ HL:xxx qué es? ‘xxx what it is?’ L2:Yo no sé qué es. ‘I do not know what it is.’ HL:Es algo para poner el agua. El agua, pones el agua y para ‘It is something to put water in. Water, you put water and to… L2:¿Y hielo? ‘And ice?’ HL:No. ‘No.’ L2:¡Oh! La cosa que una persona trae para… con agua para limpiar. ‘Oh! The thing that a person brings to…with water to clean.’

44 The same pair…with the L2 learner providing a word for the HL learner HL:Eh, ¿tienes una, una cosa cerca del fregadero? Eh, parece una cosa para limpiar. No es una toalla. No es un paño. ‘Uh, do you have a, a thing near the sink? Uh, it looks like a thing for cleaning. It is not a towel. It is not a cloth.’ L2:¿Es esponja? ¿Esponja? ‘Is it a sponge? Sponge?’ HL:Yo no sé cómo se llama. ‘I do not know what it is called.’ L2:Sí, es una esponja. No, no la tengo. ‘Yes, it is a sponge. No, I do not have it.

45 Grammar- and pronunciation-focused LREs LRE Initiator HL n % L2 n % Total (n) LRE Focus Grammar3 (50) 6 Pronunciation5 (100)0 (0)5

46 Not enough tokens of grammar- or pronunciation-focused LREs for statistical analysis But there are trends that emerge: Pronunciation LREs were (exclusively) initiated by HL learners when they had trouble understanding the message of L2 learners L2 learners never initiated pronunciation- focused LREs

47 An HL learner initiating a pronunciation-focused LRE HL:Ah, sí. ¿Qué más? ¿Qué más? ‘Ah, yes. What else? What else?’ L2:Ok. ¿Tienes el juego? [wé ɣ o] ‘OK. Do you have the game/set?’ HL:¿Cuál juego? Oh, el jugo. [xú ɣ o] ‘Which game? Oh, the juice.’ L2:Jugo. ‘Juice.’ HL:Oh, es leche. ¿Es leche o jugo? No sé. No tengo jugo o leche o lo que sea. ‘Oh, it’s milk. Is it milk or juice? I don’t know. I don’t have juice or milk or whatever.’

48 None of the pronunciation-focused LREs were initiated by L2 learners because L2 learners did not question the pronunciation of the HL learners, nor did they ask the HL learners how to pronounce any lexical items. The pronunciation-focused LREs had one- sided benefits, for the L2 learners, who were the ones demonstrating pronunciation difficulties. Not unexpected, given clear advantage in pronunciation ability for HL learners compared to L2 learners.

49 Mutual benefits for the grammar-focused LREs, half of which were initiated by L2 and half by HL learners HL:Está más cerca a el*… ‘It is closer to the’ L2:al ‘to the’ HL:fregadero? ‘sink’

50 Just 6 examples in the dataset, but combined with research showing some shared morphosyntactic deficiencies between L2 and HL learners (Montrul, Foote, & Perpiñán, 2008) it seems that grammar may be an area where both groups benefit. Differentiated instruction (Carreira, this institute)

51 Mutual benefit when grammar issues arise incidentally (as in this study) or when grammatical features are task- essential, or task-useful. Inherent difficulty in creating such tasks

52 Limitations Classroom study (small n size but ecologically valid) Task focused on home vocabulary = may have biased results in favor of HL learners

53 Only linguistic benefits addressed, but what about affective factors, such as self- and partner-perceptions?

54 After completing the task, both partners completed a perception questionnaire Likert-scale questionnaire with 25 questions on self- and partner perceptions

55 Examples from the questionnaire strongly disagree disagree somewhat disagree somewhat agree agree strongly agree Negative partner perception 1.I found working with my partner unpleasant Positive partner perception 2. I enjoyed working with my partner Positive self-perception 3.I felt that I could perform the task in Spanish Negative self-perception 4.I didn’t feel confident about my ability in Spanish

56 Neutral feelings about their own ability Disagree/strongly disagree with negative beliefs about partner





61 Students’ questionnaire responses indicate that both interlocutors perceived benefits from the interaction Self-selected group since students paired themselves?

62 What about modality? Ongoing data collection including both oral and written tasks Oral – Spot-the-differences task Written – Crossword puzzle task Cloze and complete the story task

63 (Very) Preliminary findings Laboratory-based study Learners paired based on proficiency (measured by DELE cloze) Data on the three tasks collected from 1 L2-HL pair so far 11 LREs


65 Typical spelling LRE L2Dos años después la vio otra vez en la biblioteca, o algo así HL Two years later he saw her again in the library, or something like that OK… (writing) dos años… L2 OK…(writing) two years… Oh, dos semanas! No dos años! Perdón! Oh, two weeks! Not two years! Excuse me! HLDos semanas después…¿después lleva acento? L2 Two weeks later…does later have an accent? Sí Yes HL ¿Sobre la 'e'? On the e?

66 More research is needed to determine how best to instruct all students in mixed classes Pairing students differently based on modality seems promising HL learners can help L2 learners in oral tasks and L2 learners can use their metalinguistic (and written) knowledge to help HL learners in written tasks But what about learning outcomes?

67 Stay tuned…individualized post- testing is part of the ongoing data collection!

68 Acknowledgments UIUC Campus Research Board (Award 08166) Florencia Henshaw (UIUC) Silvina Montrul (UIUC) Kim Potowski (UIC) Paul D. Toth (Temple University) Rebecca Adams (University of Auckland)

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