Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Partnerships for International
Research and Education

Sara Ostergren

Sara Ostergren
Undergraduate Student: International Relations and Spanish; concurrent Master's in International Affairs
Sara Ostergren


I am a junior at here at Penn State pursuing a double major in Spanish and International Relations. I plan to also receive my masters here at Penn State through the School of International Affairs to receive a degree in International Affairs with a concentration in International Economics and Business. With these degrees, I hope to work with countries in Latin America, specifically working to protect the human rights of citizens in these developing countries. This is because beyond my career aspirations, my passion in life is to help people. I care deeply about the well-being of others and how my life can have a positive impact on the lives of those around me. Especially, the millions of people who are currently living under corrupt and poverty stricken conditions. Not only do I feel the opportunities provided by PIRE are especially relevant to my academic studies, but conducting field research in the village of Palenque is an amazing opportunity to pursue my linguistic interests as I study Lengua Palenquera and Spanish, as well as give back to this community.

Project Summary:

For my research project, I plan to analyze cued code-switching and accurate repetition of code-switches as a measure of language proficiency. Specifically, I am going to look at the ability of the residents of Palenque de San Basilo to code-switch between their dominant language, Spanish, and the community’s local creole, Lengua Palenquera, as well as their ability to accurately reproduce code-switched utterances. I expect the ease in which they accurately repeat switched sentences and switch languages, adhering to well-documented constituent boundary constraints when switching will correlate their level of proficiency. In my research, I hope to answer the following questions: are participants who demonstrate the ability to fluently and grammatically code-switch with ease from Spanish to Lengua Palenquerahighly proficient in Lengua Palenquera? Are these the individuals who will maintain the future survival of Lengua Palenquera?