Authentic experiences in Spanish

By Ester Ulate, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Creating authentic experiences in the Spanish classroom: A study on foreign language anxiety, self-efficacy, and speaking proficiency

Why this study?

In the foreign language classroom, the students need to engage in three levels of communication: interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive. Therefore, speaking proficiency is vital to communicate in the target language. But this can be very challenging when the students experience foreign language anxiety and a low level of self-efficacy.

I decided to facilitate experiences in the classroom in which students feel more confident about their own capabilities, and also less anxious when participating in the Spanish class.

Who participated?

The participants were the two classes of Spanish 3 I had during my internship, under the supervision of Ms. Penrod.

What action strategies were used?

During the time frame of a month, each class participated five discussion groups, as a way to provide more authentic experiences to use the language. Then the students used the tool Google Voice to call and leave a voice message in my email in Spanish, in which they shared their experiences during the discussions.

What are some results?

Here are some of the comments the students made about participating in the discussions:

"During the discussion, I felt great because I enjoy talking about my future"

"No me sentía nerviosa ni asustada durante la discussion"

(I did not feel nervous or scared during the discussion)

"This discussion I felt very comfortable. I knew what I was saying, and what was being said"

"I feel the discussion went well. I was relaxed and not nervous"