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Modern-Day Foreign Language Majors: Their Goals, Attainment, and Fit Within a Twenty-First Century Curriculum

  • Paula WinkeEmail author
  • Susan M. Gass
  • Emily S. Heidrich
Chapter
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 37)

Abstract

In 1967, John Carroll produced a seminal research report that overviewed the proficiency levels of foreign languages majors at U.S. colleges and universities with the goal to capture and record the state of foreign language instruction in the United States at the university and college level. This chapter revisits the status of foreign language proficiency amongst majors with data from language majors from three large state universities. Data collected in areas of listening, speaking, and reading are compared with the data of Carroll. Fifty years later, a similar picture emerges with speaking and listening skills falling behind other skills. What is different, however, is the general picture of what it means to be a major, with the majority of students today declaring multiple majors as opposed to the single “language/literature” major of the past. A second area of investigation concerned the possible predictors of success amongst language majors. Heritage status, study abroad and intrinsic motivation were important predictors, but amongst those three, it was intrinsic motivation that stands out. Similar to the findings of Carroll, a factor that is important is when language learning begins, with greater progress being made in college-level courses when language learning begins before tertiary education.

Keywords

Foreign language major Double major Proficiency Speaking Reading Listening 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Winke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan M. Gass
    • 1
  • Emily S. Heidrich
    • 2
  1. 1.Second Language Studies ProgramMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Center for Language Teaching AdvancementMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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