Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

German Zarate-Sandez

Second Advisor

Robert Vann

Third Advisor

Viviane Ruellot


The field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has offered a wide range of research that analyzes the factors impacting academic achievement. This research has also accepted that despite the success of different teaching methodologies, second language acquisition also relies on the learners' individual differences (ID) such as motivation, personality, willingness to communicate, etc. Psychological constructs and behaviors such as motivation have been proven to be directly related to learners' performance. Within this line of inquiry, this study examines the relationship between two IDs, namely motivation and aptitude, and academic achievement, as measured by the participants' final grades in Spanish Intermediate I classes at Western Michigan University. The purpose of the study is to provide a better understanding of the individual factors that affect the learner’s ability to acquire Spanish as a second language. Data was collected through the Attitude Motivation Test Battery (Gardner, 2004), a widely cited instrument, and the LLAMA aptitude tests, as well as a background information questionnaire during the Fall 2018 semester. A total of 27 participants were allocated 90 minutes to complete the assessments mentioned above. This study provides an answer to two main research questions: 1. Do aptitude and motivation predict academic achievement in Spanish language learning? 2. What specific factors of motivation predict academic achievement? The hypothesis in this study is that both motivation and aptitude will prove significant in predicting academic achievement in Spanish language learning. In terms of the second research question, it was hypothesized that motivation would be a stronger predictor than aptitude. Multiple regression analyses were performed using the statistical package R to answer these research questions. A major trend in this research is the high predictive ability of aptitude on participant’s grades. In addition, a pedagogical implication of this study is that the model of aptitude and motivation together predicts more than 30% of the variance that influences language learning in a normal classroom setting.

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Honors Thesis-Restricted

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