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Title:Developmental sequences in the acquisition of French L2: A study of adult classroom learners
Author(s):Andrews, Dianne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Savignon, S.J.
Department / Program:French
Discipline:Education, Language and Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Language, Modern
Education, Adult and Continuing
Abstract:This study investigated whether adult classroom learners of French L2 acquire the language as it is taught in textbooks, or whether there is a varying acquisition order that they seem to follow, one perhaps independent of textbook sequencing. The question arose as a result of the researcher's years of experience as a classroom teacher of French. To answer this question, the textbook presentation order of ten "elementary" morphosyntactic features was compared with the acquisition order of these same features in the speech of a sample of adult English L1 classroom learners.
A stratified random sample of 50 beginning-level students of French at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign served as subjects in this study. Twenty-five subjects were at the end of the first year of instruction and twenty-five at the end of the second year of the introductory French program. They were interviewed by the experimenter using Pimsleur's French version of the Bilingual Syntax Measure I. The interviews were transcribed, and the ten items were scored for percentage of target-like use in obligatory contexts. The correlational analysis of the data showed a lack of relationship between the textbook/classroom presentation order and the learner acquisition order of the ten "basic" morphosyntactic features.
The results of this study question the sequencing of grammatical items common to mainstream U.S. French L2 textbooks. Furthermore, it is significant to note that in terms of the acquisition of morphosyntax in oral self-expression, first-year learner scores were strongly correlated with those of second-year learners. Both groups acquired the ten features in a similar manner. Additionally, there was no discernable improvement in spoken grammatical accuracy for the second-year learners, despite another year of focus on structure, drill, and error correction.
The study contributes evidence regarding the limitations of formal instruction on learner developmental sequences in French L2 and suggests that an accuracy first approach to second language acquisition is unrealistic. The findings challenge the profession to further investigate the relationship between instructional materials, curriculum design, program goals, and classroom language acquisition.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Andrews, Dianne
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210727
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210727

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