World Language Research

May 2022 - May 2023

Analyzing Language Acquisition, Intercultural Competence, and Personal Growth in a Study Abroad Experience
Sydney Wetzel

A semester-long study abroad experience was tracked using a blog to analyze the learner's language proficiency, intercultural competence, and personal growth. The study will analyze specific examples of second language acquisition and intercultural competence from a qualitative perspective. The study will look for examples of Stephen Krashen's Monitor Model of second language acquisition and Claire Kramsch's theories of intercultural competence. 
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susan Hojnacki
Funded by: World Languages and School of Education

May 2018 - May 2019

The Role of Gender on the Pronunciation of “ch” in Andalusian Spanish: A Study of Social and Linguistic Factors
Bridget Gibley

The study of the Spanish language includes the study of many different dialects and variations. For example, Andalusian Spanish contains a variable pronunciation of the consonant “ch.” The standard pronunciation in Spanish is an affricate sound [tʃ] (as in the “ch” in “choose”). However, the consonant “ch” can also be pronounced in a weakened, fricative sound [ʃ] (as in the “sh” in “shoe”). This dialectal variation is widespread among speakers of different ages, gender, and education. Previous studies (Quilis-María Vaquero, 1973; Melguizo Moreno, 2007; Alberto Méndez, 2017) have found correlations between these sociolinguistic factors and the weakened pronunciation of “ch.” However, even though all the studies agree that the fricative pronunciation is more common among speakers from lower socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, the patterns found for age and gender are contradicting.

This study explores the dialectal variation of the consonant “ch” in Andalusian Spanish, in particular the role of gender, by analyzing audio interviews with speakers of Andalusian Spanish in Alcala de Guadaira in Southern Spain. Each speaker is analyzed based on the dependent variable of the pronunciation of “ch” and independent variables of gender, education, and phonological context for the consonant. Since the fricative pronunciation of “ch” seems to have low prestige in Spanish, we expect female speakers to favor the standard affricate pronunciation of this consonant.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Carmen Ruiz-Sanchez
Funded by: Aquinas College Summer Scholars Program

May 2017 - May 2018

On April 25, 2018, GN 401 students Karissa Lantz and Paul Sommerville presented their research projects at the 10th Aquinas Annual Student Research Symposium. Under the guidance of their faculty advisor, Dr. Susan Hojnacki, they connected their German research topic with their second major (International Studies and Business Administration/Sports Management), their study abroad, internship, practicum, or experiential learning experience, and shared their scholarship with an engaged and interested audience!

Putin, Merkel, and Crimea: The Effects of a Cross-Cultural Diplomatic Relationship Following the Annexation of Crimea

Karis Karissa Lantz (German Studies & International Relations)

This capstone thesis project brings together the two academic fields of International Studies and German Studies. The research seeks to provide a possible understanding of events that occurred between Russia and Germany following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in eastern Ukraine. Based on the Social Constructivist approach to International Relations and Germany’s reluctance to be involved in foreign conflicts after World War II, the project focuses on the actions and reactions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The thesis concluded that the relationship between a German woman, who grew up in East Germany, and a Russian man, who was a KGB officer stationed in East Germany, affected the outcome of events after the annexation of Crimea.


Sport in the GDR: A Structural Analysis of the Communist Development Program. Lessons Beyond Doping.

Paul Sommerville (German Studies & Sport Management)

The German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, was able to build a world class, state-endorsed sport program with minimal resources and a limited population. National teams were not just able to compete, but rather defeat the world’s best, including the United States and the Soviet Union, at the Olympic level. Speculations of performance-enhancing doping clouded the success and were finally exposed after the Berlin wall fell. My research examines the financial and administrative structure of GDR sport. Where did the money come from, and who made the decisions? What unique processes were in place that set them apart? How did the rigorous training affect the athletes’ experience? Where did they go wrong and what influenced those decisions? I will use my research to identify processes from the system that could positively influence current sport organizations, such as national governing bodies and intercollegiate athletic departments.