DeBruin, Karen

Advisor Department

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures




language acquisition; french; auditive comprehension; oral


Foreign language acquisition is a subject of increasing importance in today’s world, acting as the backbone of international relations, trade and communication. In addition, through examination of a foreign culture and language, individuals can come to appreciate philosophies and values other than those pertaining to their own society. However, the difficulty and apparent uselessness of the subject material in the “here and now” dissuades many students from continuing language acquisition after obligatory general education requirements have been fulfilled. Through examining acquisition theories and factors which affect students’ motivation to continue second language acquisition; I developed a strategy in order to facilitate the language learning process.

This project was completed by means of relevant literature and student data. A preliminary survey was conducted in introductory French classes in December 2011, and indicated that oral comprehension is the most challenging aspect of language acquisition. Based on this response, research and literature review were conducted specifically around oral comprehension and how to ameliorate it at the University of Rhode Island. In addition to reviewing acquisition theory, group and individual factors have been noted which affect student motivation to pursue, or abandon, second language learning. Student responses provided direction throughout the semester, as a second survey was conducted in March 2012, again in the 100 level French classes. Finally, through synthesizing the previously read material along with primary research, a strategy was developed which aims to make learning oral comprehension more interactive and less intimidating. The students who participated in this activity assessed the overall effectiveness of it.

Throughout this examination of second language acquisition, specifically regarding oral comprehension, several conclusions can be made. First, student motivation plays an essential role in learning a language. Second, in 100 level French classes, oral comprehension is among the most difficult subject areas for students to develop proficiency. Finally, the amount of in-class time committed to this skill is insufficient, thus students must be encouraged to seek outside resources in order to further develop their comprehensive abilities.