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Title:Discourse-level instruction on the acquisition of English present perfect in academic writing
Author(s):Oyama, Tomoko
Advisor(s):Ionin, Tania
Contributor(s):Kang, Hyun-Sook
Department / Program:Linguistics
Discipline:Teaching of English Sec Lang
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
grammar teaching
higher education
Abstract:This mixed-methods study investigated the relative effects of discourse-level instruction on the use of English present perfect (PP) in relation to other semantically neighboring tense-aspect forms. While PP is frequently used to discuss previous literature or introduce a research trend in academic writing (Gunawardena, 1989), it is considered one of the most difficult forms to acquire for its semantic overlap with other frequently used forms such as the simple present (PR) and the simple past (PT). Participants were thirty-seven graduate students enrolled in different sections of an ESL-writing course at a public university in the US. They were divided into three groups: discourse-level and sentence-level instruction groups, and a control group without any instruction. Prior to instruction, all participants completed a pretest consisting of grammaticality judgment, forced-choice, and fill-in-the-blank tasks. The same tasks, with different but comparable items, were administered immediately and four weeks after the completion of the instruction. The two instruction groups participated in two 30-minute intervention sessions conducted across two different days within one same week. During the instructional sessions, the discourse-level instruction group was asked to read a research paper from a STEM field where PP predicates appeared without temporal adverbials and the other related tense-aspect forms (PR, PT) as well as the PP forms were highlighted. The sentence-level instruction group, on the other hand, read individual sentences, carrying those three target forms, from the same paper. Retrospective interviews were conducted after the delayed posttest to elicit the ESL participants’ awareness of the target form (PP) and the other two tense-aspect forms (PR, PT). Results of the fill-in task reveal that the discourse-level instruction group outperformed the other groups on the immediate posttest, but not on the delayed posttest. The other tasks reveal non-significant group differences among the instruction groups and a control group on the pre-, immediate post- and delayed post-tests. Results from the retrospective interviews corroborate these quantitative findings. Pedagogical implications point to the efficacy of discourse-based, contextualized grammar instruction for learning the appropriate usage of different tense forms in a research paper.
Issue Date:2020-12-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Tomoko Oyama
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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