Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students

language instruction is less prevalent at this level than at a secondary level. Regardless, college
and university language programs still have their share of novice-level learners. Success in
acquiring a second language at this level can be fraught with challenges as university-level adult
learners are forced to address receptive (listening and reading) as well as expressive (speaking
and writing) skills. Krashen's (1982) affective filter hypothesis is relevant to this situation. He
notes that learner anxiety, especially when elevated, plays a role in learning language; i.e., a
"filter" or mental block exists that impedes the second language from getting in-a low filter is
associated with relaxation, confidence to take risks and a pleasant learning environment.
Building on Krashen's theory of language acquisition, Terrell (1982) proposed a natural
approach methodology to language learning which has greatly impacted the foreign language
curriculum through an emphasis on communicative competence in a "natural order" of language
acquisition of a second language similar to the learning of the first or native language (L 1); i.e.,
comprehension of input precedes production of speech or writing with a minimal emphasis on
grammatical structures. Communicative competence, according to the theory, is the ability to use
the language system appropriately in any circumstance, with regard to the functions and the
varieties of language, as well as social and cultural appropriateness for a given situation.
One possible explanation for the common acceptance of the "natural order" sequence by
L2 pedagogues is that traditional approaches to language learning have placed a strong emphasis
on "readiness," the idea that certain skills must be mastered before other skills can be introduced
(i.e., language is acquired first through listening and learning specific words, then speaking, then
reading progressively more cohesive text and finally experimenting with written expression). In
a typical four-semester sequence (which at many institutions of higher education fulfills the
second or foreign language requirement), the progression of instructional emphasis begins with

Oxford, Raquel Malia Nitta. Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition of University-Level Intermediate Spanish Students. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4688/. Accessed December 21, 2014.