Attitudes towards the Cordobese accent and their implications for the acquisition of Spanish as a second language in Argentina

Canavosio, Andrea De Los A. (2022) Attitudes towards the Cordobese accent and their implications for the acquisition of Spanish as a second language in Argentina. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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In Argentina, there is a need for research that focuses on the interplay between language attitudes towards different Argentinian varieties, reported teaching practices, linguistic policies and acquisition of Spanish as an L2. The aim of this project is to examine the language attitudes that 192 Argentinian teachers and 59 students of L2 Spanish have towards the Cordobese accent and to find out whether these attitudes are shaped by language ideologies and linguistic policies in the field of Spanish teaching. Teachers’ mean age was 40 (22-73 range) and, on average, they had seven years of teaching experience. Students’ mean age was 32 (19-82 range); they studied Spanish for an average of 11 years and their proficiency level was high (37), intermediate (19) or low (3). The thesis also aims to analyse whether these attitudes may be influencing reported instruction (choice of teaching materials, audios, videos, speaking tasks, and so on) and at finding out whether dialectal variation and sociolinguistic awareness is acknowledged and addressed in any way during classroom instruction by these teachers.

The instruments used to collect data regarding attitudes and reported practices were a Verbal Guise Test (VGT), a questionnaire for students (69 items), a questionnaire for teachers (95 items) and focus group interviews with teachers. The data collected through the VGT shows that both teachers and students rated Cordobese speakers more negatively than Buenos Aires speakers in the status and competence and linguistic competence dimensions; on the other hand, Cordobese speakers were rated more positively than the Buenos Aires speakers in the social attractiveness dimension. When directly asked about their attitudes towards varieties, teachers and students have more positive attitudes towards the Peninsular and the Rioplatense or Buenos Aires variety than towards the Cordobese variety, which is explicitly considered a non-standard variety by many. As Cordobese Spanish is associated with a localised variety, many participants prefer to select the Rioplatense variety or the Peninsular variety as a pronunciation model. Most teachers stated that they would use the samples from the speakers from Buenos Aires in their Spanish classes, whereas fewer teachers said they would use the samples from the Cordobese speakers.

It was also found that most teachers do not introduce dialectal variation in their classes in a systematic way, so the incorporation of sociolinguistic variation is not consistent across the curriculum or the practices reported by teachers; the topic is usually dealt with sporadically or anecdotally. Apart from teachers’ attitudes towards varieties, other factors may be influencing teachers’ decisions: lack of specific training on dialectal variation, lack of specific teaching materials, intuitions, time constraints, institutional limitations and international exams, as revealed in the interviews and the questionnaire. Most teachers do not seem to be aware of the potential pedagogical benefits of incorporating variation to their classes, as they have not been trained on how to approach this topic pedagogically. Thus, their decisions as regards the teaching of variation seem to be more related to personal attitudes, preferences, or intuitions and institutional or external factors rather than being informed by second language acquisition and sociolinguistic research results. The main implications of the study point to the need for including teacher training sessions on how to pedagogically approach Spanish variation in the classroom and at the need for more teaching materials targeted towards this topic from a pluricentric perspective which acknowledges the value of varieties such as the Cordobese one. Furthermore, the crucial role of general awareness raising among curriculum designers, language policy makers, teacher training institutions, teachers and students about the benefits of dialectal variation teaching in terms of multicultural competence and second language acquisition is stressed throughout the study. Addressing these topics may help us to change the status quo and to achieve more linguistic equality in the field of Spanish teaching.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: sociophonetics, Spanish teaching and learning, Buenos Aires variety, Argentinian varieties, Rioplatense Spanish
Subjects: T900 Others in Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2023 09:17
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2023 09:30

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