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The Development of Oral Proficiency During a Semester in Germany



Abstract: This study measures and analyzes improvements in students' oral proficiency during a study abroad semester in Germany. Oral proficiency interviews were conducted with participants before and after the program during three consecutive years. All interviews were assigned official ratings. Usage of two specific grammar structures associated with the Advanced level was also tracked. Before the program, most students were at Intermediate Low, even those who had completed 5th-semester German courses. Although 80% completed the program with improved proficiency ratings, very few reached the Advanced level. Internal analysis of speech samples did reveal that the post-program Intermediate Mid performances were much closer to the Advanced level than pre-program performances with the same rating. The study concludes with an assessment of curricular implications for post-program courses.