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Keywords:

  • Spanish heritage language learners;
  • concurrent verbalizations;
  • reactivity;
  • think-aloud protocols;
  • writing tasks

Abstract

Critics argue that requiring subjects to verbalize their thoughts while completing certain language tasks increases the participants’ cognitive load and impairs their final performance (e.g., Jourdenais, 2001). Despite the importance of this claim for language instructors, few studies have produced contradicting evidence after an empirical study (e.g., Goo, 2010).

This study investigates whether thinking aloud in either English or Spanish hindered performance during a semi-guided writing task completed by 37 college students whose heritage language (HL) is Spanish. This study also explores the validity of implementing think-alouds to investigate HL writing, an area which requires more research. Results indicate that thinking aloud while writing in the HL benefits fluency and accuracy. These results support studies that found positive reactivity and those concluding that concurrent verbalizations should be employed with caution.