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Title:The role of metalinguistic terminology in second language teaching and learning
Author(s):Clifton, Alison
Director of Research:Golato, Peter
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Golato, Peter
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Markee, Numa P.; Sadler, Misumi; Tremblay, Annie
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Metalinguistic Terminology
University-level learners
Explicit Instruction
Abstract:What is the role of metalinguistic terminology in second language teaching and learning? Specifically, how is metalinguistic terminology used in foreign language textbooks? To what extent are students familiar with metalinguistic terms? What effect does the instruction of metalinguistic terminology have on students’ comprehension of second language grammar? This project focuses on these yet unanswered questions. The study consists of three distinct investigations. First, I conduct a content analysis of eight first-year French textbooks to investigate the type of terminology employed in grammar presentations and the extent to which this terminology is defined. Second, I conduct a survey to assess the knowledge of grammatical terminology of first- and second-year learners of French. Finally, I conduct an empirical investigation in order to determine the effect of instruction of metalinguistic terminology on student learning of French relative pronouns. My findings confirm that textbooks employ metalinguistic terminology in their presentations of grammar, but in the majority of cases, they use these metalinguistic terms without defining them. My findings also confirm that language learners are generally unfamiliar with metalinguistic terminology. Finally, my findings confirm that while instruction of metalinguistic terms significantly affects student performance on task, the improvement made by learners who receive this instruction does not differ significantly from the improvement made by learners who do not receive this instruction. More broadly, this finding adds to the literature on the usefulness of explicit form-focused instruction by providing support for the facilitative effect of directing learners’ attention to form whether or not they understand the terminology used to label that form.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Alison M. Clifton
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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