PhD ceremony: Ms. T.I. Mehotcheva, 11.00 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Thesis: After the fiesta is over. Foreign language attrition of Spanish in Dutch and German Erasmus students
Promotor(s): prof. M.S. Schmid
The present study explores the retention and attrition of Spanish as a foreign language in Dutch and German Erasmus students. Data from three different modes - oral (interview), linguistic (C-test) and psycholinguistic (picture naming), as well as information for background and personal factors is analysed. The role of length of attrition, contact with the language, attitude and motivation and initial proficiency and their importance for the retention of the language is also investigated. Two different samples are studied: cross sectional data, consisting of three attriting groups and a baseline group, and longitudinal data for 5 participants over the span of one year. Evidence for attrition is found at both oral and psycholinguistic level in both samples. The former is manifested by an increased number of disfluency markers and their more frequent appearance in front of lexical items, and reduced lexical diversity in oral speech at individual level and across groups. Slower reaction times (in both samples) and lower percent correct responses in the picture naming task (across groups) are viewed as evidence of compromised lexical access at psycholinguistic level. Although the results for the background variables are mixed, initial proficiency is established as the strongest predictor of retention of the language with higher initial proficiency leading to better retention of the language.
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