A Comparison of Heritage Learners and L2 Learners of Spanish: A Study on Compliment Sequences in the Classroom

Jeremy W. Bachelor, María Jesús Barros García


The present study sought to evaluate the pragmatic competence of heritage learners of Spanish in regard to compliment sequences and the impact that pragmatic lessons would have on these students. To this end, pre and post tests to assess pragmatic recognition in regard to Spanish compliments were designed by the researchers and completed by the participants before and after a series of pragmatic interventions. Control and experimental groups were established in order to evaluate other potential variables involved. Additionally, the same lessons were implemented in two beginner L2 Spanish groups (one control and one experimental) as to determine whether or not the lessons were more suited for this demographic of students. Preliminary data suggest that the heritage groups of students already have high pragmatic competence in regard to compliments and that lessons do not have an impact on this type of learner. On the other hand, the beginner L2 Spanish students greatly benefited from the interventions and experienced statistically significant growth in the experimental group. The effect size was also calculated and found that the interventions had little to no impact on the heritage experimental group and a very large impact on the L2 experimental group. The conclusions of the study suggest that it may not be necessary to teach pragmatic norms to heritage language learners. Design, lessons, pedagogical interventions, and recommendations for future study are included.

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