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Educational policy today advances the notion that effective teachers must be highly qualified. While teacher candidates must pass various exams and have strong content knowledge, today’s tool to measure teacher effectiveness is clearly how K-12 students perform on various state and national assessments. While research shows that there are other qualities that effective teachers possess such as a strong sense of efficacy, this article reports on the relationship between Spanish teachers’ (N = 370) socio-communicative orientation and cognitive flexibility, and their students’ (N = 10,973) scores on the National Spanish Exams. This study is framed conceptually in the notions of clear teaching and communicative competence. Teachers’ data were divided into four different communicative types (Competent, Aggressive, Submissive, and Non-competent) for analysis and their students’ mean scores on the exams were compared across the groups. Multivariate analyses suggest that there is a positive relationship between Spanish teacher socio-communicative orientation, cognitive flexibility, and students’ scores on the exams. This research has implications for multiple stakeholders, highlighting the importance of developing communicative competence and versatility in teaching Spanish.


Originally published in:

Swanson, P. (2015). Spanish teachers’ communication competence as it relates to student performance on the National Spanish Exams. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 12(2), 149-168. Retrieved from

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