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Title:The Optimal Distance Model of Acculturation and Success in Second Language Learning
Author(s):Day, Emily Catherine
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:The focus of this exploratory study was the degree to which the Optimal Distance Model proposed by Brown (1980) accounts for the success of a selected sample of adult second language learners. Brown's model proposes that sociocultural factors account for the success of second language learners in the cultural environment of the second language.
Interview data, language proficiency ratings, and questionnaire data were collected from each subject. Subjects selected for investigation were 10 ex-Peace Corps Volunteers who had trained together in California at an in-house Peace Corps Training Center and who served at least two years in Peru. The primary research questions for this life history approach were: (1) Do the subjects consider themselves bicultural? (2) Do the subjects consider themselves bilingual? (3) Did the subjects experience (a) culture shock, (b) anomie, (c) culture fatigue/culture stress? (4) If so, when did this occur, and what was the linguistic ability of each at the time of (a) culture shock, (b) anomie, (c) culture fatigue/culture stress?, and (5) Did the subjects experience a growth in both linguistic and/or cultural competence (as well as communicative confidence) after experiencing culture shock and/or anomie?
All of the subjects considered themselves bilingual and bicultural; moreover, they all expressed confidence in their language proficiency. An outside measure of their linguistic competence was available through the end-of-service Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Oral Proficiency Rating. All except two were judged to have at least "Minimum Professional Proficiency." All of the subjects perceived their Spanish pronunciation to be very good; they were usually mistaken as being from another Latin country. Two subjects did not score as highly on the FSI as would have been expected. One of them experienced neither culture shock nor anomie during his service; the other experienced culture shock early, and often. All other subjects experienced culture shock, culture stress, and/or anomie; examples and descriptions of their experiences were recorded.
Results of the investigation indicate that the Optimal Distance Model has some explanatory adequacy, but that further research is clearly indicated. Implications for second language teachers and learners are given.
Issue Date:1982
Description:263 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8209561
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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