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Journal on Empowering Teaching Excellence

Abstract

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An understanding of the products that Generation Z students value the most from their college-level language study is essential for instructors who must effectively unpack second language theories within the context of their classroom instruction. This preliminary study examines the value system regarding language study as revealed in the language-learning perceptions of a group of current language learners (n = 53) and recent college graduates (n = 49) at a small, private, liberal arts college in the southeast. Through qualitative analysis of student responses, the following emerged as language-learning products that students valued the most: (a) practical application of a specific language to vocational activities and to everyday life, (b) representation of and engagement with the cultures of the people whose languages (L2) they study, and (c) engagement with speech communities in which the second language (L2) is spoken with varying levels of proficiency. The study concludes with suggestions for areas of further study that will be of value to second language researchers and instructors alike.

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