Computer-enhanced and non-computer-enhanced Spanish language instruction: a case study
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This investigation represents a case study of the implementation of technology in a university-level Spanish program. The study is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, and was conducted largely during the first phase of the implementation of a computer-enhanced component in the first-semester Spanish course at the University of Texas at Austin. The purpose was to observe what occurred in general, and specifically in two courses that were different iterations of the same first-semester Spanish curriculum: one version had a computerenhanced component and the other did not. There were two research objectives: (1) to provide a historical perspective that describes the development of the computer-enhanced course; and (2) to describe learner progress in SLA with respect to one aspect of the target language—verb morphology. Three research questions guided the study: (1) What was the development of technology use in this language program? (2) What effect, if any, does participation in computerassisted verb exercises in the first-semester Spanish classes have on learners' ability to notice and focus attention on Spanish verb forms, thereby helping to learn the forms, as shown by accurate oral and written production? (3) What effect, if any, does participation in computer-assisted verb exercises have on learners' ability to use verb structures in oral production in terms of more selfinitiated grammatical corrections but less overall fluency? The study examined one group of 50 Computer-Assisted learners and one group of 54 Classroom-Only learners, and considered both quantitative and qualitative data to describe the learners' oral and written verb production performance. Results of a pretest measurement (oral picture description, discrete-item verb test, and written composition) and a posttest measurement (final oral interview, discrete-item verb test, final written composition) are examined. Quantitative analysis of the posttest data showed a higher frequency of self-initiated grammatical corrections by the Computer-Assisted learners, but did not yield a significant statistical effect for the computer-assisted verb exercises on accurate oral and written verb production, except for the discrete-item verb test. Qualitative analysis of six sample transcriptions indicated between-group differences in learner speech with respect to pause frequency and distribution.