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Title:Stress in the Beginning Spanish Classroom: An Instructional Study
Author(s):Saalfeld, Anita Kay
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hualde, Jose Ignacio; Peter S. Golato
Department / Program:Spanish
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Foreign Language
Abstract:Typologically, stress in Spanish and English is similar in that both languages have variable word stress. However, research done by Cutler (1986) and Soto-Faraco, Sebastian-Galles, & Cutler (2001) investigating the role of stress on lexical access indicates that there are psycholinguistic differences in the way that stress is processed by native speakers of English and Spanish. Specifically, Cutler (1986) showed that native English speakers do not use stress differences to access the lexicon. Soto-Faraco et al. (2001) performed a similar study with native speakers of Spanish; their results indicated that native Spanish speakers do rely on stress to access the lexicon. The importance of stress in lexical access in Spanish indicates that it may be worth teaching to beginning L2 Spanish learners. The remaining question is whether focused instruction results in improved perception of Spanish stress. The current study addresses this question. Participants were two intact classes of L1 English speakers enrolled in a six-week session of second semester Spanish, as well as a native English control group (n=8) and a native Spanish control group (n=8). One class served as the experimental group (n=15), and the other served as the control group (n=12). A pre-test was administered during the first week, and a post-test was administered during the last week of the session. In the intervening four weeks, the experimental group received short lessons and practice activities designed to improve their perception and production of Spanish stress; the control group received no specific instruction on Spanish stress and did not do any practice activities. To measure stress perception, participants completed a timed ABX stress discrimination task. A mixed-model ANOVA and accompanying post-hoc Scheffe tests revealed that both groups demonstrated significant improvement between pre-test and post-test, but there were no significant differences between groups in terms of accuracy of response. However, the experimental group did demonstrate an improvement in response time on the post-test which was significantly different from the response time of the control group, indicating that instruction may be beneficial.
Issue Date:2009
Description:176 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3363080
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2009

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