On the Background and Motivation of Students in a Beginning Spanish Program


  • Paul B. Mandell

    1. University of Houston
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      Paul B. Mandell (PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) is Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Houston, Houston, Texas.


ABSTRACT: A number of recent articles have examined the motivation, purpose of study, and demographics of first- and second-year language learners of French or Spanish (see, e.g., Ossipov, 2000; Rava, 2000; Voght, 2000; Wen, 1997) This study surveyed the make-up of a sample of first-and second-year university-level Spanish learners at a major postsecondary institution in a city with a substantial, growing population of monolingual and bilingual Spanish speakers. The results of the survey were used to address questions about learner preparation prior to entering a four-year university course of study, preferred and desired activities in the current curriculum, and motivations for the study of Spanish. Generalizations about the nature of the typical learner in this context and the implications of the appreciation of and desire for grammar-related and communicative activities — as expressed by the respondents — in the contemporary liberal arts curriculum are discussed.