Document Type



The addition of a world language to one’s education is an exciting and possibly nerve-wracking moment (Krashen, 1982, as cited in Shrum & Glisan, 2016). For perhaps the first time, students witness how their classroom ushers in the sound system of a new language, the vivid colors of a previously unexplored culture, and the understanding that they have become global citizens. Such is the case for students whose home/first language (L1) is English and who begin their study of Spanish, the fourth-most spoken language in the world (Berlitz, 2022). With 534 million speakers, this language promises to give learners a deeper understanding of global interactions and lifestyles different than their own (2022). As students begin their Spanish second language (L2) journey, they are met with similarities to English that may ease understanding; however, there are nuances of the Spanish language that students must understand to grow in proficiency. One of these infamous nuances is the contrast between the preterit and imperfect tenses in the indicative mood. Although both are used to discuss the past, these verb forms are not interchangeable and require of L2 Spanish students a change in perspective regarding how they consider and analyze time and past events (Comajoan Colomé, 2018). The preterit-imperfect distinction presents challenges not only in understanding but also in instruction as Spanish teachers strive to make a connection between the material and the students (Kissling & Muthusamy, 2022). To promote a greater understanding of these distinctions, this paper will explore the history of the preterit and imperfect tenses and will also examine these tenses through their linguistic composition and their use in cultural and contextualized contexts. This developed perspective will allow students and teachers alike to enhance their L2 Spanish classroom experience and gain confidence in engaging with this perplexing area of la lengua española.


Global Languages and Literatures & Secondary Education

Thesis Comittee

Dr. José I. Lara, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Melissa Tobey LaBelle, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Fernanda Ferreira, Committee Member
Dr. Phyllis Gimbel, Committee Member