ACQUIRING 21ST CENTURY LANGUAGE SKILLS: A CASE STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF STUDENTS' SECOND LANGUAGE SKILLS ON A WORLD LANGUAGE PROGRAM
AuthorTorres, Jr., Oscar
AdvisorIkpa, Vivian W.
Committee memberDavis, James Earl, 1960-
DuCette, Joseph P.
Gross, Steven Jay
Mahar, Robert J.
SubjectForeign Language Instruction
Middle School Education
Middle School Foreign Lang.
World Language Instruction
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/4136
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe primary goal of this study was to identify how middle school language teachers bridge the skills acquired and strategies taught in an elementary school language program with the skills taught and practiced at the middle school level. The study will answer in detail this question: What perceptions do middle school teachers form regarding their students' language skills and how do these perceptions impact a world language program? By identifying the language teachers' current perceptions as they relate to their lesson design and delivery, school districts may find relationships between the teachers' perceptions of their students' language abilities and the program's perceived benefits or deficiencies. The researcher examined a middle school language program through the participation of language teachers from three middle schools in an urban setting. The findings indicate that teachers in the program can improve the delivery of their instruction by implementing strategies identified as necessary for the continued growth of the program and for students' acquisition of the language skills needed in the 21st century. Three themes derived from the findings and results of this study are: 1) collaborating with the teachers from the previous level; 2) using question and answer techniques and; 3) minimizing the amount of time used for review.
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Diagnosing L2 English Learners’ Listening comprehension abilities with Scripted and Unscripted Listening TextsBeglar, David; Wagner, Elvis; Swenson, Tamara; Leeming, Ian Paul (Temple University. Libraries, 2018)L2 listening research has moved toward a focus on understanding the process of listening. However, there are still few detailed studies of L2 listening that reveal learners’ comprehension processes when listening to scripted and unscripted listening texts. Studies in which such processing has been discussed have lacked detailed diagnoses of how bottom-up and top-down processing interactively affect listeners’ comprehension. This study was designed to show how listeners’ process and comprehend texts, with a focus on how their bottom-up and top-down processing either assist or impede their comprehension. In this study, a group of 30 L1 Japanese university English language learners’ listening abilities were diagnosed. The 30 participants were at three listening proficiency levels—high, mid, and low—based on TOEIC listening proficiency scores. The diagnostic procedure involved participants listening to two scripted and two unscripted listening texts and then reporting what they comprehended through three tasks—L1 oral recalls, L2 repetitions, and verbal reports. Other data was also collected in the study to relate the comprehension of listening texts to other important listening-related variables including listening proficiency, lexical knowledge, listening anxiety, study abroad experience, short-term phonological memory, and working memory. The main finding of the study was that miscomprehension of listening texts was invariably multi-causal, with a combination of both bottom-up and top-down factors leading to comprehension difficulty. Although not a new finding, the study offered more detail than current research about how bottom-up and top-down processing occur interactively. Regarding the overall difficulty of the listening texts, unscripted texts were more difficult to comprehend than scripted texts, and high-proficiency participants had fewer listening difficulties overall than mid- and low-proficiency participants. Quantitative and qualitative results revealed common processing difficulties among all participants due to L1-related phonological decoding issues (e.g., /l/ vs. /r/), connected speech, unknown lexis, and a lack of familiarity with unscripted speech hesitation phenomena (e.g., um, like). Qualitative transcript examples showed how top-down knowledge influenced misinterpretations of words and phrases interactively with bottom-up information, making inaccurate understandings of listening difficult to overcome. In addition to revealing participants’ difficulties and the severity of their comprehension difficulties, the diagnostic procedure showed common strengths—key words and phrases understood well by participants. High-frequency vocabulary and shorter utterances were both shown to be comprehended well. Finally, quantitative results in the study revealed relationships of participants’ listening comprehension with other important listening related variables. Listening proficiency and listening anxiety had strong relationships with listening comprehension of the listening texts. Working memory and short-term phonological memory had no relationship with listening text comprehension. Finally, study abroad experience showed a relationship with comprehension, but with many caveats, and listening vocabulary knowledge was not related with comprehension, but again, with numerous caveats to consider. Based on the results, theoretical and pedagogical implications were posed. Theoretical implications from the study relate to the understanding of four concerns in L2 listening research. Mainly, data in the study will aid researchers’ understanding of how L2 English listeners process speech interactively (i.e., with bottom-up and top-down information) for comprehension, how L2 English listeners experience connected speech, how L2 listeners deal with unknown lexis, and how L2 listeners experience difficulties with features of unscripted speech. Pedagogical implications of the study include the need for increased teacher and learner awareness of the complexity of L2 listening, the need to have learners to track their own listening development, and the need for teachers to expose learners to unscripted listening texts and make them familiar with features of unscripted speech. Finally, suggestions for further research are posed, including conducting diagnostics assessments of L2 listening with listeners of different L1s and with more varied proficiency levels, using different diagnostic procedures to examine L2 listening comprehension, and using more instruments to understand listening-related variables’ relationships with L2 listening comprehension.
Effects of metalinguistic knowledge and language aptitude on second language learningSick, James; Beglar, David J.; Ross, Steven, 1951-; Schaefer, Edward; Childs, Marshall (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of metalinguistic knowledge and language learning aptitude on second language (L2) procedural knowledge. Three lines of inquiry were undertaken: (a) confirming the factorial structure of metalinguistic knowledge and language learning aptitude; (b) testing the relative effects of metalinguistic knowledge and language learning aptitude on L2 procedural knowledge; and (c) assessing the relative contributions of receptive and productive metalinguistic knowledge and components of language learning aptitude to L2 procedural knowledge. Two-hundred-forty-nine Japanese university students participated. One receptive and two productive tests of metalinguistic knowledge related to metalinguistic terminology and English grammatical rules were administered. Learners' language learning aptitude was measured using the Lunic Language Marathon, which consisted of four scales: number learning, sound-symbol association, vocabulary learning, and language analytical ability. Participants' L2 procedural knowledge was assessed through performance on a timed writing task. The writing samples were scored for overall quality, L2 complexity, accuracy, and fluency. The scores from each test were subjected to Rasch analyses to investigate the construct validity and unidimensionality of the instruments. The results of the Rasch analyses indicated that the test items fit the Rasch model, supporting the construct validity of the instruments. The unidimensionality of each instrument was established through Rasch principal component analyses. Interval-level Rasch measures were used for the subsequent analyses. The results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses indicated that metalinguistic knowledge and language learning aptitude were distinct constructs. A two-factor model showed good model fit and explained the relationship between the two constructs. Structural equation modeling revealed that metalinguistic knowledge significantly predicted L2 procedural knowledge, complexity, accuracy, and fluency. Language learning aptitude, however, was not a statistically significant predictor of the L2 procedural knowledge variables. The results of a path model analysis indicated that productive metalinguistic knowledge was the strongest predictor of L2 procedural knowledge, language analytical ability predicted receptive metalinguistic knowledge, and number learning was negatively associated with L2 procedural knowledge. The findings point to the facilitative role of metalinguistic knowledge in L2 learning and the viability of L2 declarative knowledge becoming proceduralized through practice.
THE EFFECTS OF EXPLICIT FORM-FOCUSED INSTRUCTION ON L2 ORAL PROFICIENCY DEVELOPMENTLeeming, Paul; Beglar, David J.; Nemoto, Tomoko; Doe, Timothy (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)This study was an examination of the effects of explicit form-focused instruction on the English development of Japanese university students during a seven-week intervention. Speaking proficiency development is a continuous challenge for most EFL learners who have limited exposure to the target language outside the classroom. Within the communicative language teaching paradigm, task-based language learning (TBLT) has been considered an effective approach for developing students’ speaking proficiency. However, while TBLT has been increasingly implemented in English language classrooms, investigations in which explicit form-focused instruction has been integrated into task based speaking tasks are limited. This longitudinal classroom-based study had five purposes. The first purpose was to examine the development of speaking proficiency in terms of syntactic complexity, syntactic accuracy, and oral fluency. The second purpose was to examine the development of speaking proficiency by comparing learners who received form-focused instruction with those who did not receive form-focused instruction by examining differences in their syntactic complexity, syntactic accuracy, and oral fluency development. The third purpose was to quantitatively and qualitatively examine the week-to-week trajectory of changes in speaking proficiency development. The fourth purpose was to examine learner affective variables. The final purpose was to examine the participants’ perceptions concerning the development of speaking proficiency based on their self-assessments. The participants were 104 first-year students enrolled in a Japanese university. All of the participants narrated a different four-picture cartoon in English once a week for nine weeks. The participants were divided into one comparison group and two intervention groups: form-focused instruction (FFI) and form-focused instruction and peer feedback (FFI + PF). The form-focused instruction intervention included ten minutes of grammar instruction focused on three past tense forms: simple past, past continuous, and past perfect, as well as ten minutes of peer feedback. Between the pretest and posttest, the FFI and FFI + PF participants received seven weeks of instruction before their weekly cartoon narration. Participants in the comparison group did not receive any weekly interventions. The pretest and posttest narration data of all participants were transcribed and analyzed using six CAF measurements: mean length of T-unit, clause/T-unit ratio, percentage of error-free T-units, percentage of accurate past tense usage, speech rate, and self-repair. Moreover, the pretest and posttest narrations recorded by all of the participants were analytically rated by three raters. From the sample of 104 participants, nine participants (three representatives from each group) were chosen for a week-to-week trajectory analysis in which their six CAF performances were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed. All of the participants completed two questionnaires after taking the pretest and posttest. I developed both questionnaires based on previous literature related to second language speaking proficiency development. The English Speaking Learner Affect Questionnaire was used to examine differences in participants’ classroom English speaking anxiety, English speaking self-efficacy, and desire to speak English. The Self-Assessment of Speaking Task Questionnaire was used to examine changes in the participants’ self-assessment of their own performances in terms of syntactic complexity, syntactic accuracy, and oral fluency. The results indicated that form-focused instruction was effective at improving the participants’ global syntactic accuracy and their accurate use of the simple past tense. However, form-focused instruction did not lead to improvements in syntactic complexity or oral fluency. However, explicit form-focused instruction did not lead to detrimental effects on syntactic complexity or oral fluency; thus, form-focused instruction did not appear to stimulate trade-off effects between syntactic complexity, syntactic accuracy, and oral fluency. The analytical ratings provided by the raters indicated that form-focused instruction did not lead to significant improvements in terms of syntactic complexity, syntactic accuracy, or oral fluency. The results also indicated that the form-focused instruction intervention was effective at quickly improving syntactic accuracy because participants who received both form-focused instruction and peer feedback improved more quickly in the simple past compared to the participants who only received form-focused instruction. However, the participants who improved syntactic accuracy quickly might have experienced trade-offs with oral fluency ability, as improvements in speed fluency were not noted until their syntactic accuracy reached a ceiling effect where their global accuracy and accurate use of simple past tense stopped to improve. The results indicated that form-focused instruction did not influence classroom English speaking anxiety, as there was no significant difference seen between participants who received form-focused instruction and participants who did not. However, an excessive amount of form-focused instruction might have negative impacts on speaking anxiety because the participants who received both form-focused instruction and peer feedback showed an increase in their classroom English speaking anxiety. On the other hand, form-focused instruction had no impact on English speaking self-efficacy and it had positive effects on the desire to speak English because the participants who received both form-focused instruction and peer feedback exhibited a significant increase in their desire to speak English compared to the participants who did not receive form-focused instruction and the participants who received only form-focused instruction. Finally, based on the learners’ self-assessment, form-focused instruction had no effects on speaking proficiency development as there was no difference in self-assessed syntactic complexity, syntactic accuracy, and oral fluency between the participants in the three groups. Participants who received form-focused instruction interventions did not assess themselves to having higher syntactic accuracy despite their improvements on the CAF measures.