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Study abroad and the SLA of variable structures: A look at the present perfect, the copula contrast, and the present progressive in Mexico and Spain

Matthew Kanwit, Kimberly L. Geeslin and Stephen Fafulas
From the journal Probus

Abstract

The present study connects research on the L2 acquisition of variable structures to the ever-growing body of research on the role of study abroad in the language learning process. The data come from a group of 46 English-speaking learners of Spanish who participated in immersion programs in two distinct locations, Valencia, Spain and San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Simultaneously, we tested a group of native speakers from each region to create an appropriate target model for each learner group. Learners completed a written contextualized questionnaire at the beginning and end of their seven-week stay abroad. Our instrument examines three variable grammatical structures: (1) the copulas ser and estar in pre-adjectival contexts, (2) the preterit and the present perfect in past-time contexts, and (3) the simple present and present progressive in present-time contexts. Findings indicate an overall development of sociolinguistic competence abroad, but to a differing extent depending upon the variable structure analyzed.

Acknowledgments

We express our gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions. We are also thankful to Manuel Díaz-Campos for his feedback on an earlier stage of the project. All errors are, of course, our own.

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Published Online: 2015-8-25
Published in Print: 2015-9-1

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