Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Living Language: Self-Assessment, Oral Production, and Domestic Immersion

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Living Language: Self-Assessment, Oral Production, and Domestic Immersion

Article excerpt

While many studies have examined a variety of aspects of intensive immersion experiences, it appears that few, if any, have examined the self-assessment and oral production of adolescents in an immersioninspired "language village" summer camp. Since learners' individual characteristics and experiences vary widely, helping them to become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as they continue developing their linguistic abilities is critical (Doeurornyei, 2005). This study sought to unravel some of the possible relationships among individuals' oral production and self-assessment, and the learning context-alanguage village where, for 4 weeks, students sought to improve their linguistic abilities while living surrounded by the French language and Francophone culture. Specifically, the study investigated adolescent French learners' self-assessment of their oral production and evaluated actual oral production abilities using a number of measures (Llanes & Mun~oz, 2009). The fi ndings inform an understanding of the extent to which adolescents recognize their own individual characteristics as learners and how their linguistic abilities and their capacity to self-assess these abilities develop in a domestic immersion language village.

Literature Review

Immersion Approaches

Immersion education, as introduced in Canada and the United States in the 1960s, is most often seen as an extended program that uses the language being acquired, often called the target language (TL), to teach something other than the language itself for at least 50% of the instructional time (Fortune & Tedick, 2008). This educational structure often includes instruction in, and about, the TL to further its goals of developing bilingual and bicultural students (Fortune & Tedick, 2008; Tedick, Christian, & Fortune, 2011). Since the 1960s, schools have developed andexpandeduponoriginalimmersion program structures, and immersion techniques have been brought into mainstream classrooms (Fortune & Tedick, 2008; Hamilton, Crane, & Bartoshesky, 2005; Tedick et al., 2011). Such immersion techniques are also the hallmark of study abroad teaching and learning.

Many domestic programs have sought to simulate study abroad and immersive environments: Students in these programs share one native language but are surrounded by another language and a culturally authentic environment while they remain in the country of origin. Out of necessity, such programs use immersion instructional techniques (Hamilton et al., 2005). A number of studies have documented significant successful oral language development as a result of participation in such programs, even as a result of experiences that last only 1 month (Llanes & Mun~ oz, 2009; Serrano, Llanes, & Tragant, 2011). However, although students' individual oral production usually improves during domestic immersion and international experiences, measureable increases in proficiency are not guaranteed (Serrano et al., 2011; Tschirner, 2009). The variance in students' learning outcomes is often attributed to students' individual experiences and to learner-specific variables. To date, little work has examined either adolescent learners' growth in oral production skills or knowledge of their own abilities in domestic immersion programs.

Oral Production in a Second Language

For the present study, the operational definition for oral production was adapted from Llanes and Mun~oz (2009), focusing on their oral production fluency measures, so as to describe and measure learners' active and efficient language use. In their study, oral production was operationalized as one facet of overall oral proficiency that involves the production of foreign language words and the way those words are strung together to create meaning. However, the operational definition of oral production fluency in their investigation did not include factors such as accent, grammar, and other such measures. …

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