The impact of previous relocation on students' attitudes towards Spanish: a survey investigation of university undergraduates

Corbin, Mellany
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University of Delaware
This study investigated a possible correlation between the individual variables of relocation experience and students' attitudes towards Spanish. A survey was distributed to a sample of 331 students at all levels of Spanish study at a Major Research University in the Northeast. Previous research indicated that the reason for relocation may affect the students’ academic performance with certain relocations such as those for voluntary reasons were associated with improved academic performance. The results of the study indicated that about 60 percent of the relocations involved a change of state, which is consistent with the University of Delaware population that has a majority enrollment of out-of-state students. Most participants had only relocated once, and of those participants who had only relocated once, 92 percent indicated university enrollment as their reason for relocation. In order to quantify responses to questions on a Likert scale, responses to these questions were totaled to form an "attitude score". It was found that there was a positive correlation between the attitude score of those participants who were Spanish majors/minors and those who were not Spanish majors/minors. In comparing the attitude scores in relation to the reasons for relocation, the results for most categories did not differ. Categories of interest were divorce/separation and decreased income because these groups yielded attitude scores that were lower and higher, respectively, from the rest. While previous research supports a negative relocation effect for divorce/separation, it seems uncharacteristic for a population who relocated due to decreased income. The attitude scores for type of relocation also identified two groups from the rest of the categories: relocations that involved a change of country and those participants who had never relocated. Contrary to the original hypothesis, the population who had never relocated revealed the highest attitude score. Similarly, participants who had relocated out of the country had a higher attitude score. The correlation coefficient between the attitude score and reasons for relocation and the attitude score and types of relocation did not reveal statistically significant findings; therefore, the study did not support the null hypothesis that previous relocation affects foreign language learners' attitudes towards Spanish.
Second Language Acquisition