Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2022


Higher education Spanish programs in the United States are diverse and complex, especially when it comes to student linguistic background. However, most studies on language proficiency were designed for traditional learners (L2s). In this study, we examine oral proficiency development of 125 Spanish majors in light of four linguistic profiles: Extended Stay Abroad learners, Second Language Learners, Native Speakers, and Spanish Heritage Language Learners. Data were collected using an oral exam based on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency guidelines at the beginning and end of students' upper division coursework. Quantitative analysis reveals significant differences within groups for senior exit oral proficiency exam scores as well as level gains. These findings suggest that oral proficiency exams are a valuable tool for understanding differences in oral proficiency development for the four student categories. This information is pertinent for program assessment and has important research and pedagogical implications.


Carolina Viera and Kelly Arispe contributed equally to this study.

Copyright Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Viera, C. & Arispe, K. (2022). Can Spanish Programs Evaluate Oral Proficiency Gains for All Learners?: An Empirical Analysis of Traditional and Nontraditional Spanish Majors' Oral Proficiency Development. Foreign Language Annals, 55(3), 832-852,

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