students talking in class

LCTL Speaking Study

About the study

The Language Institute, in partnership with the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI), is conducting a study on the speaking proficiency gains made by students enrolled in intensive summer programs in 14 less commonly taught languages: Arabic, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, Hindi, Kazakh, Indonesian, Persian, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Urdu, Uyghur, and Uzbek.

The study responds to national calls for research on the proficiency outcomes of U.S. foreign language programs (Winke & Gass, 2019) to document the speaking proficiency gains and outcomes of intensive summer LCTL programs in both face-to-face and online/remote instructional contexts.

Participants and data

Participants in the study were students enrolled in one of 14 LCTL programs offered through WISLI.

Data for the study are:

  • Pre- and post-program ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) ratings
  • Weekly journals to self-report on language use and engagement in different types of language learning and use activities
  • Interviews
  • Background questionnaire

Research team

  • Lidia Gault, Graduate Research Assistant; Doctoral Candidate, Second Language Acquisition PhD Program
  • Hadis Ghaedi, Graduate Research Assistant; Doctoral Candidate, Second Language Acquisition PhD Program
  • Meg Malone, Outside Evaluator; Director of Assessment, Research, and Development, ACTFL
  • Jana Martin, Associate Researcher; Associate Director, Language Institute
  • Dianna Murphy, Lead Researcher and Principal Investigator; Director, Language Institute
  • Sonya Sedivy, Statistical Design and Consulting; Associate Research Scientist, Testing and Evaluation Services

Former research team members

  • Chen Sun, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Ryan Goble, Research Analyst; Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institute
  • Felecia Lucht, Research Lead; Director, Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes


U.S. Department of Education, Title VI, International Research and Studies (IRS) Program

ACTFL Research Priorities Grant

UW-Madison Language Institute


Project publications

Murphy, D. & Sedivy, S. (in progress). The speaking proficiency outcomes of face-to-face and online intensive summer LCTL programs.

Martin, J. & Ghaedi, H. (in progress). Exploring LCTL student engagement in language learning and use activities.

Murphy, D. & Gault, L. (in progress). Student perceptions of the affordances of instructional delivery modalities for improving their speaking (draft title).

Project presentations 

The Speaking Proficiency Outcomes of Face-to-Face and Online Intensive Language Instruction, Dianna Murphy and Lidia Gault, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, December 7, 2023

Exploring LCTL Student Engagement in Language Learning and Use Activities, Jana Martin, ACTFL 2023 Convention, November 17-19, 2023

Did Student Speaking Proficiency Gains Suffer During the Pandemic?, Jana Martin, International Association of Language Learning Technology Conference,  June 14-17, 2023.

The proficiency outcomes of F2F and online intensive summer LCTL programs, Dianna Murphy, ACTFL 2022 Convention, 1:30-1:45 pm, November 19, 2022.

Using proficiency tests to examine student outcomes and improve learning: Four studies and a discussion of test use, Colloquium for the 2022 Language Assessment Research Conference, September 16, 2022. Meg Malone, chair; Troy Cox (BYU), Dianna Murphy and Sonya Sedivy (UW-Madison), Charlene Polio (MSU), Joyce Wu (URI).

LCTL students’ perceptions of the most engaging activities in developing their speaking abilities, National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages Conference, April 22, 2022. Hadis Ghaedi, Felecia Lucht, Jana Martin.

Assessing the speaking proficiency outcomes of online and face-to-face intensive U.S. summer programs in less commonly taught languages, American Association of Applied Linguistics Conference, March 22, 2022. Dianna Murphy, Jana Martin, Felecia Lucht, Hadis Ghaedi.

Documenting the speaking proficiency gains that students make in intensive summer LCTL programs in face-to-face and online/remote instructional contexts, Plenary for the Interagency Language Roundtable, March 11, 2022. Dianna Murphy, Sonya Sedivy, Felecia Lucht.

Research report: Assessing the outcomes of face-to-face and online intensive summer LCTL programs, Shared LCTL Symposium, August 2021. Dianna Murphy.