CALICO Journal, Vol 35, No 3 (2018)

Developing Oral Proficiency in Spanish across Class Modalities

Dianne Burke Moneypenny, Rosalie S. Aldrich
Issued Date: 17 Sep 2018


There is a growing demand for online course options, including classes offered and required in foreign languages. However, offering courses in multiple formats presents the challenges of developing high quality online courses and assessing the overall program effectiveness as students may elect to take the sequenced language acquisition courses in different formats. Thus, students complete the courses through various combinations of modes (i.e., all online, all face-to-face, some online/some F2F, transferring from another university or after successfully completing a placement exam). The purpose of this study was to examine a second language program offering both seated and online Spanish language acquisition classes at a small regional campus in the Midwest. Oral proficiency was tested using the Pearson Versant Test for Spanish and students' (n=108) scores were then compared to the ACTFL established benchmarks after one and two years of language study. In this study 42% met or exceeded the first year overall oral proficiency benchmark of Intermediate-Low and 27.5% met or exceeded the second year overall benchmark of Intermediate-Mid. These results suggest online Spanish course options can be an effective mode for students to meet oral proficiency benchmarks when programs require asynchronous and synchronous oral production, and provide speaking practice opportunities. However, additional research in this area is needed to better understand why some students are not meeting the benchmark.

Download Media

PDF Subscribers Only

DOI: 10.1558/cj.34094


Allen, I. E., Seaman, J., Poulin, R., & Straut, T. T. (2016). Online report card: Tracking online education in the United States (Rep.). Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from

Angiello, R. (2010). Study looks at online learning vs. traditional instruction. The Education Digest, 76(2), 56–59.

Angelino, L. M., & Natvig, D. (2009). A conceptual model for engagement of the online learner. Journal of Educators Online, 6(1), 1–19.

Astani, M., & Ready, K. (2010). Employers’ perceptions of online versus traditional face-to-face learning. The Business Review, Cambridge, 16(2), 91–96.

Bayle, A., & Youngs, B. (2013). Patterns of interaction between moderators and learners during synchronous oral discussions online. CALICO Journal, 30, 66–91.

Blake, R., Wilson, N., Cetto M., & Pardo-Ballester, C. (2008). Measuring oral proficiency in distance, face-to-face, and blended classrooms. Language Learning & Technology, 12, 114–127.

Carey, M. (2004). CALL visual feedback for pronunciation of vowels: Kays Sona-Match. CALICO Journal, 21, 571–601.

CARLA. Language Proficiency Assessments (MLPA). (2015). Retrieved from

Cutler, A. (2003). Lexical access. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (Vol. 2), Epilepsy – Mental imagery, philosophical issues about (pp. 858–864). London: Nature Publishing Group.

Dixon, L. Q., Zhao, J., Shin, J. Y., Wu, S., Su, J. H., Burgess-Brigham, R., Gezer, M. U., & Snow, C. (2012). What we know about second language acquisition: A synthesis from four perspectives. Review of Educational Research, 82(1), 5–60.

Fogle, C. D., & Elliott, D. (2013). The market value of online degrees as a credible credential. Global Education Journal, 3, 1–25.

Goldberg, D., Looney, D., & Lusin, N. (2015). Enrollments in languages other than English in United States institutions of higher education, fall 2013. Modern Language Association. Retrieved from

Goertler, S., Kraemer, A., & Schenker, T. (2016). Setting evidence-based language goals. Foreign Language Annals, 49(3), 434–454.

Guillén, G., & Blake, R. (2016). Can you repeat, please? L2 complexity, awareness, and fluency development in the hybrid classroom. In I. Sanz-Sánchez, S. Rivera-Μills, & R. Morin (Eds.), Online language teaching research: Pedagogic, academic and institutional issues (55–77). Corvallis, OR: OSU Press.

Guth, S., & Helm, F. (2010). Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century. Bern: Peter Lang.

Hampel, R. (2010). Task design for a virtual learning environment in a distance language course. In M. Thomas & H. Reinders (Eds.), Task-based language learning and teaching with technology (pp. 131–153). London: Continuum Publishing.

Hauck, M., & Stickler, U. (2006). What does it take to teach online? CALICO Journal, 23(3), 463–475.

Lai, C. (2013). A framework for developing self-directed technology use for language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 17(2), 100–122.

Lee, L. (2008). Focus-on-form through collaborative scaffolding in expert-to-novice online interaction. Language Learning & Technology, 12(3), 53–72.

Lee, L. (2016). Autonomous learning through task-based instruction in fully online language courses. Language Learning & Technology, 20(2), 81–97.

Levelt, W. (1989). Speaking: From intention to articulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2013). How languages are learned (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moneypenny, D. B., & Aldrich, R. S. (2016). Online and face-to-face language learning: A comparative analysis of oral proficiency in introductory Spanish. Journal of Educators Online, 13(2), 105–133.

Moneypenny, D. B., & Simon, J. (2017). Best practices for teaching languages online. In Ross C. Alexander (Ed), Best practices in online teaching across disciplines (pp. 107–120). Fairfax, VA: George Mason University Press.

Norris, J. M., & Pfeiffer, P. C. (2003). Exploring the uses and usefulness of ACTFL oral proficiency ratings and standards in college foreign language departments. Foreign Language Annals, 36(4), 572–581.

Ohio Department of Education. (2012). Ohio’s Learning Standards for World Language. Retrieved May 2018 from

Parsad, B., Lewis, L., & Tice, P. (2008). Distance education at degree-granting postsecondary institutions: 2006–2007 (p. 3). Washington, DC: US Department of Education.

Robinson, C., & Hullinger, H. (2008). New benchmarks in higher education: Student engagement in online learning. Journal of Education for Business, 84(2), 101–109.

Roed, J. (2003). Language learner behaviour in a virtual environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16(2–3), 155–72.

Satar, H. & Özdener, N. (2008). The effects of synchronous CMC on speaking proficiency and anxiety: Text versus voice chat. The Modern Language Journal, 92(4), 595–613.

Tabatabaei, M., & Gardiner, A. (2012). Recruiters’ perceptions of information systems graduates with traditional and online education. Journal of Information Systems Education, 23(2), 133–142.

Tanner, M. W., & Landing, M. L. (2009). The effects of computer-assisted pronunciation readings on ESL learners’ use of pausing, stress, intonation, and overall comprehensibility. Language Learning & Technology, 13, 51–65.

Technavio. (2016). Online language learning market in the US 2017-2021. Retrieved from

Vukelic, B., & Pogarcic, I. (2011). Employers’ evaluation of online education. Annals of DAAAM & Proceedings, 22(1), 1471–1473.

Wesely, P. M. (2012). Learner attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs in language learning. Foreign Language Annals, 45(s1). 98–117.

Yanguas, I. (2010). Oral computer-mediated interaction between L2 learners: It’s about time. Language Learning & Technology, 14, 72–79.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy