The Relationship Among Motivation, Interaction, and the Development of Second Language Oral Proficiency in a Study-Abroad Context



The purpose of this investigation was to examine the role of integrative motivation, instrumental motivation, and interaction with a second language (L2) culture in shaping students’ speaking performance before and after participation in a 1-semester study-abroad program in Spain. A 2-part questionnaire (Student Background Information and Motivation Index), a language contact profile, and a pretest and posttest simulated oral proficiency interview were administered to 20 study-abroad participants. The results highlight 3 major points. First, students can indeed improve their L2 speaking proficiency during a 1-semester study-abroad program. Second, there is a positive relationship between students’ integrative motivation and their interaction with the L2 culture. Third, student contact with the Spanish language has a significant effect on their speaking improvement. The data confirm the importance of focusing on learning activities that enhance students’ integrative motivation and interaction with the L2 culture in both the formal classroom (“at home”) and in the study-abroad program.