Linguistic Development in an Immersion Context: How Advanced Learners of Spanish Perceive SLA

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Abstract

This study focuses on how learners perceive the experience of their linguistic development, and particularly how contextual factors in the learning environment and individual issues such as linguistic goals, self-confidence, and friendship patterns interact with their perceptions of their progress and performance in Spanish. The data consist of the reports and reflections—oral and written, formal and informal—of 7 advanced learners about their experience of functioning in Spanish in the context of a U.S.-based immersion program lasting 6 weeks. Three major themes emerged from the participants' introspections: (a) linguistic uncertainties and crises of confidence that pervade learners' daily lives; (b) an ambiguous relationship to formal language instruction; and (c) metaphorical frameworks in which learners cast the SLA process, which highlight the conflicting beliefs that they hold about how they can manage or control that process.

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