Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Modern and Classical Languages

First Advisor

Gerard P. Andrews

Second Advisor

Joy Landeira

Third Advisor

Mollie Hand

Abstract

The agreement between nouns and their respective articles are of upmost importance within the Spanish language. Although some L2 Spanish learners may believe that noun gender is not an important aspect of the Spanish language, it has shown to be very vital in the overall construction of a sentence, in the form of the adjectives and other grammatical tools being used (Vargas-Barn, 1952). There are many aspects that contribute to the difficulty of acquiring the gender of a Spanish noun for learners of Spanish as a second language. This includes characteristics of the learners such as their age, their sex, their exposure to the Spanish language, their exposure to other foreign languages, etc (Sagarra & Herschensohn, 2011, Lindsey & Gerken, 2012). In addition, some nouns’ gender is harder to acquire than others', depending on their endings, their meaning, and their semantics (Alarcón, 2009, Clegg, 2011). However, little is known about the learners’ attitudes towards noun gender acquisition and its relationship to its acquisition. This study aims to present the potential relationship of learners’ attitudes towards the importance of noun gender and their ability to correctly identify the gender of nouns. Also, the study will explore the relationship between perceived difficulty of gender, as part as the attitude towards it, by learners, and its relationship to gender acquisition. In order to do so, a survey will be given to two university Spanish classes with a questionnaire asking their age range, Spanish exposure, etc., as well as their perceived importance of learning how to properly identify the correct genders of nouns. After this short questionnaire there will be a series of questions in order to test their current ability at determining noun gender. With the results of this study, teachers will be able to utilize the information and be able to instruct their students on the importance of noun gender within the Spanish language, and hopefully increase the knowledge of their pupils.

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