Spanish for Native Speakers

Introduction

Every educator comes across many different styles of learners, encountering a variety of levels. Within a foreign language classroom there is an expected array of students, some of which achieve higher levels of language acquisition than others. However, there is an entire other group that needs to be addressed in many educational settings. This group, being referred to in many existing cases as Native Spanish Speakers, is a double edged sword in the “traditional” Spanish as a “foreign language” classroom. Many of these Native Spanish speakers opt for the Spanish class as opposed to another language (Italian or French), they do not already speak for different reasons. The issue occurs when these native speakers are in a traditional Spanish language classroom and make the rest of the students feel very incompetent

Another struggle for the teachers is the lack of wait time for non-native speakers. When native speakers know all or a great majority of answers, immediately it reduces the time non-native students feel they have to think of a response. When they see that someone else has already discovered the correct answer, they may even give up trying to come up with an idea. This discouragement can create great apathy among non-native speakers towards their achievement in the classroom.

The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship of the placement of Native Spanish speaking students in a classroom of their own to study Spanish and their academic performance in the Spanish language. In this new setting, students will theoretically be placed among students of a similar level in the Spanish language. In this instance, the “traditional” Spanish as a foreign language class will also return to its primary concern teaching non-native speakers the Spanish language. Some of the key elements to keep in mind throughout the study are the new levels of achievement among the native speakers and their reaction to the coursework.

There will be some limitations present as in any study of this nature. Initially, the methods, which one takes to determine the various levels of language ability among the Native Spanish speakers, will be challenging. The surveys presented will discover some fundamentals; however, once in the classroom one may still encounter many more varieties than expected. As will be discussed later on in the methods section, the education for instance of the students’ parents has a great impact on their achievement in the language. These limitations will cause differences in the results which must be accounted for from the very beginning.

This study has the potential to bring about a positive change in the way in which the Spanish language is shared with students. No longer do non-native speakers have to feel uncomfortable not knowing an answer right away nor do native speakers have to feel great boredom on vocabulary lessons of words, they learned from the day they were born. Both respective groups of students will be challenged in an appropriate forum of students with a similar level in the language.

Methodology

This study requires more than surveys modeled in a qualitative sense. Interviews will be conducted with all of the sample population. The interviews will be based upon survey responses and will explore the substance of issues behind raw quantitative data yielded by the surveys. The researcher will conduct these interviews one-on-one with individuals from the sample. (See interview questions in Appendix A.) Questions such as… “How would you describe your handle of the Spanish language? Would you feel comfortable living in a Spanish speaking country with your level in the language? How do you feel about your current achievement level of Spanish in the classroom? How do you think you could achieve more in the language?” …will be directed towards the sample population. The purpose of this qualitative study is to discover the relationship of the placement of Native Spanish speaking students in a classroom of their own to study Spanish and their academic performance in Spanish language. Comparing results and personal feedback from new and old and even non-existing programs will help develop the ‘why’ behind the answers.

The researcher will conduct the initial surveys to Native Spanish speaking students in traditional foreign language classrooms. Their response in this matter is crucial to discover their comfort level and feelings of success or failure in the class. The researcher then will take on the task of teaching the Native Spanish speakers’ class and again administer an initial survey to discover their comfort level, etc. The researcher will be conducting focus groups along the way to receive constant feedback from the students participating in the study. These group sessions will occasionally consist of a group interview and other times simply allowing the students to debrief what they are taking part in and the researcher may sit back and observe. Another role the researcher will take on is a one-on-one interviewer. At this point the researcher will meet with each student individually throughout the process and discover their thoughts and opinions on different related matters.

This qualitative study will involve Native speakers of the Spanish language in eighth through junior year of high school enrolled in Spanish class. The site may be any high school that currently does not have a Native Spanish speaker class offered and is planning on developing one in the near future. The participants will have to be Native Spanish speakers currently enrolled in traditional Spanish as a foreign language classes. These participants will be surveyed initially on certain variables to be discussed shortly. In addition these participants should vary from freshman through juniors. The age difference may play a role in their concept of academic achievement. These participants should of course all be willing to be enrolled in the upcoming academic year in the Spanish class for strictly Native speakers of the language.

Data collection will play a vital role throughout the process in keeping interviews consistent and surveys administered in a timely fashion. The initial survey of the Native Spanish speakers will involve multiple variables. First and foremost finding out the students age roughly 14-17 depending on their grade level. Following their age is the education level of their parents (elementary completed, high school completed, some college education, college graduate, schooling beyond college). This greatly effects the level of Spanish attained by the student at this point due to the nature or level of conversation in the target language at home. It may also effect whether or not the student was taught to read and write in the language or strictly speak. Another variable that must be established is the language the parents speak at home, whether it be strictly Spanish, a mix of Spanish and English or strictly English. Again this greatly effects the level of Spanish attained by the student due to the amount they hear at home. Finally the last variable to be addressed in this initial survey is the language the student speaks at home (referring to responding to parents, etc.). Again whether the student speaks strictly Spanish, a mix of Spanish and English or strictly English will greatly affect their level in the language.

In an initial interview with the student the researcher will discover the comfort level of the Native Speaker in the traditional Spanish as a foreign language classroom. Once established the interviewer will look for the students’ opinion on their level of academic achievement in their current classroom and how challenging or not it has been. The interviewer may want to address the idea of a Native Spanish speaker’s class to be offered simply to receive some initial reactions and thoughts on the subject. Once the focus group is established and they have begun instruction in their new class, they should be brought together on a regular basis to be decided by the researcher (approximately once every two to three weeks) to discuss their progress in the class, their reactions and feelings to be instructed in solely their native tongue. At this point the researcher will begin to formulate insight to the true feelings and opinions of the students.

Throughout the academic school year the researcher will also conduct individual interview with the students to discuss any personal feedback the may not feel particularly comfortable sharing with the entire group. The interviewer at this point may want to further discuss the impact of how much their native tongue is used at home. The student may begin to realize themselves how much this effects their academic achievement in the class or not. Upon completion of the first year of the course the focus group would be asked to complete a final survey in which their opinions may be displayed in an anonymous way in order for them to feel free of all judgment. This survey should contain questions regarding their overall opinion of the course whether they were pleased in general or not. In addition this survey should discover how greatly they feel their academic level in the language was effected or not and why. In addition they will be asked how challenged they felt in general in this class and of course in comparison to being a traditional foreign language classroom with non-Native speakers. The students will be given a change at the end to express any final thoughts on the experience again in an anonymous format in order to achieve a very open forum for them to express themselves.

The Data analysis is to follow at which point the researcher will display the results of all the surveys into graph format. Individual student’s reactions to the course need to be considered alongside the level the native language is used in their home. For instance if a student who’s parents have only reached the elementary level found the course entirely too challenging and their Native language is not used very consistently at home, this needs to be considered. In another instance students’ whose parents reached higher levels academically may react slightly different to the course and this also needs to be analyzed at this point in time. In addition the individual interviews need to be analyzed in depth and compared to one another to discover more deeply the students’ true reactions to the new experience. The time span over which this research will be conducted is approximately eighteen months. The initial surveys may be distributed sometime towards the end of a specific school year at which point the sample would be determined. The actual research would then begin in the following September and continue through until June, at which point the results would be analyzed.

The results will be presented in a paper format along with graphs and tables to display the results of the individual surveys. The interviews of the students will be included in the write up along with comparing each student’s individual reaction with that of their classmates and an attempt to discover why each student reacted the way they did.

Survey Results

The table demonstrates the results of the survey exploring the level of Spanish language perception at different stages of the learning process.

the levels of language perception by Spanish speakers (1, 2, 3)

The graph discloses the levels of language perception by Spanish speakers (1, 2, 3) and can be characterized as following:

1 – Start of learning new language units, putting the ideas together, creating and developing linguistic perception;

2 – Intermediate level. Native Spanish speakers face certain difficulties connected with correct thoughts expression and proficiency development. Some non-native Spanish speakers can be disappointed and even give up at this stage through the number of reasons, such as, ‘know enough’, ‘this is the limit for me’, and ‘I need no language improvement’;

3 – The level of learning slang words, specific expressions, etc. This stage is the period of understanding and feeling the language.

Appendix A

First, Middle & Last Name:______________________________________________________

Please complete this survey to the best of your ability.

  1. How old are you?
    1. 12-13
    2. 14-15
    3. 16-17
    4. 18 or older
  2. Which category best describes the education level of your father?
    1. Elementary school completed
    2. High school completed
    3. Some college education
    4. College graduate
    5. School beyond college
  3. Which category best describes the education level of your mother?
    1. Elementary school completed
    2. High school completed
    3. Some college education
    4. College graduate
    5. School beyond college
  4. What language do your parents/guardians speak at home?
    1. Strictly Spanish,
    2. A mix of Spanish and English
    3. Strictly English
  5. What language do you speak at home?
    1. Strictly Spanish,
    2. A mix of Spanish and English
    3. Strictly English
  6. How would you grade your speaking ability in the Spanish language? (1=worst, 4=best)
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
  7. How would you grade your reading ability in the Spanish language? (1=worst, 4=best)
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
  8. How would you grade your writing ability in the Spanish language? (1=worst, 4=best)
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4

References

Cruz, Humberto López (2007). SPANISH FOR NATIVE SPEAKERS: AN APPEALING LEARNING EXPERIENCE. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 17(12), 76.

Diaz-Greenberg, Rosario (1995) The emergence of voice in Latino high school students. Ed.D. dissertation, University of San Francisco, United States — California.

Erichsen, G. (2007). Native Spanish Speakers make Mistakes too.

Gabor, Frances M. F. (1997) Spanish for native speakers: Personal and academic effects of studying one’s first language in the United States. Ph.D. dissertation, George Mason University, United States — Virginia.

GALLEGOS, ADOLPH (1983) DESIGN, IMPLEMENTATION, AND EVALUATION OF AN INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING PACKET ON COGNATE WORD UNDERSTANDING FOR ADULT SPANISH SPEAKERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of New Mexico, United States — New Mexico.

Leeman, Jennifer. (2005). Engaging Critical Pedagogy: Spanish for Native Speakers. Foreign Language Annals, 38(1), 35-45. Retrieved December 20, 2007, from ProQuest Education Journals database.

Lewelling, V. (1999). Spanish for Native Speakers: Developing Dual Language Proficiency. Eric Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.

Liguori, Olga Z. (1998) Reading practices in Spanish for Native Speakers (SNS) programs: A survey of colleges/universities in nine states. Ph.D. dissertation, New Mexico State University, United States — New Mexico.

Mikulski, Ariana, M. (2006). Accent-uating Rules and Relationships: Motivations, Attitudes, and Goals in a Spanish for Native Speakers Class. Foreign Language Annals, 39(4), 660-682.

Peale, C. George. (1991). Spanish for Spanish Speakers (And Other “Native Language”) in California’s Schools: A Rationale Statement (in Pedagogy: Colleges and Universities) Hispania, 74 (2), 446-451. Web.

Valdes, G. (1997). The teaching of Spanish to bilingual Spanish-speaking students: Outstanding issues and unanswered questions. In M.C. Colombi & F.X. Alarcon (Eds.), “La ensenanza del espanol a hispanohablantes. Praxis y teoria” (pp. 93-101). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

EL 5030 – Educational Research

Action Research Proposal Format Outline(Qualitative)

Introduction: (10 points)

Introduction of the subject/topic

  • Conceptual premise; setting the tone; context
  • Support with references
  • Purpose of the study
  • Research Question(s)—-Guiding Questions
  • Importance/Significance of the Study
  • Limitations/Delimitations
  • Definition of Terms (if applicable)

Literature Review: (15 points)

  • Relevance & timeliness of included literature
  • Clarity of review

Methodology: (10 points)

  • Theoretical framework
  • Type of design
      • Assumptions of the specific qualitative design
  • Role of the researcher
      • Qualifications and assumptions
  • Description of the research setting
      • Demographics
  • Selection of site and participants
    • The data to be collected (primary/secondary)
    • Data analysis strategies
    • How the results will be presented
    • Methods of achieving and assuring trustworthiness

References: (2.5 points)

  • APA format; current; relevant

Appendices: (2.5 points)

  • Copies of consent/permission documents; survey tools; focus group questions; etc.