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Title:Teacher talk and written materials in the Spanish as a second language classroom and their importance as input for second language acquisition
Author(s):Santilli, Michael David
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Musumeci, Diane
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Language, Linguistics
Language, Modern
Speech Communication
Abstract:Input in the second language classroom provides the primary linguistic data upon which learners' hypotheses about the language are judged or the parameters under which the language operates are set. The type of input students receive, therefore, is an important part of explaining the mechanism of second language acquisition.
The present study addresses a register of speech called Teacher Talk and the use of written materials as input in the fourth semester Spanish as a second language classroom. One near native speaking teacher of Spanish as a second language is observed and audio taped for a regular academic semester during regular class time. From these audio tapes, 5.75 hours, chosen to represent an evenly spaced time frame during the semester of observation, are transcribed and analyzed for syntactic, lexical and grammatical complexity, phonology and speed of delivery, total amount of Teacher Talk present, and utterance types and questioning behavior employed. Additionally, a select set of the required readings for the class, chosen based on their being a representative sample of different text types, is analyzed for syntactic, lexical and grammatical complexity. An interview with the teacher is conducted by the researcher in Spanish in order to obtain baseline data and information about the course, the teacher, and the teacher's views about language learning.
Teacher Talk in the Spanish as a second language classroom is found to be syntactically less complex, but delivered at a faster mean rate but with less variability, than speech from the interview; it is also less complex than the written materials. Grammatically, the present tense is the tense of choice in Teacher Talk and the interview; the written materials demonstrate a wider variety of verb forms. Lexically, the Teacher Talk and the written materials demonstrate a large percentage of appropriate lexical items. One way speech accounts for slightly less than half of total class time. During the class, the target language is used nearly all of the time. Almost three quarters of the Teacher Talk utterances were declarative utterances with questions occupying one quarter of all utterances and imperatives occupying only a very small percentage of all utterances. Referential questions and display questions comprise about one third each of all questions with the remaining third comprised of comprehension checks, clarifications, and rhetorical questions.
The findings suggest that Teacher Talk by itself does not provide the basic input data that facilitates second language acquisition. That is to say, Teacher Talk does not have a full range of possible language structures that would seem to be necessary for exposure to a complete language system. Nonetheless, written materials may possibly be beneficial in second language acquisition in that a wider, more comprehensive range of language structures are found. As such, written materials may augment the input from Teacher Talk.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Santilli, Michael David
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9624481
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9624481

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