Long-Range Goals and Language Use: Results of a Student Survey


  • Patricia O'Connor

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      Patricia O'Connor (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin) was Visiting Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of the Texas at Austin when this studey was conducted.


ABSTRACT  In a survey conducted at t h e University of Texas at Austin, more than 2,000 lower-division students of Spanish and Portuguese (97.2 percent of them non-language majors) were asked to describe their long-range professional goals, and to speculate how, if at all, the ability to understand, speak, read, or write Spanish or Portuguese could be an asset in obtaining these goals. While over 80 percent of the students surveyed indicated their belief that second language competence could be valuable in their future work, their statements also provide reassuring evidence of the degree to which the cultural and hunanistic goals of language study continue to b e valued by the current generation of undergraduates. This article includes a description of the survey and its results, as well as a discussion of some of its implications for the development of specialized, career-oriented language courses and teaching materials.