ANALYZING INSTRUCTION AND LEARNING OF DERIVATIONAL MORPHOLOGY IN THE SPANISH FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOM

10 Jul

 foto_Nausica Marcos

 

Author Marcos Miguel, Nausica
Title ANALYZING INSTRUCTION AND LEARNING OF DERIVATIONAL MORHOLOGY IN THE SPANISH FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOM
URL http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/19398/

http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/19398/1/MarcosMiguel_etd2013_1.pdf

Publication Date 2013
University/Publisher University of Pittsburgh
Date Retrieved 2015-04-13
Date Indexed 2015-04-16

Morphological awareness can help learners of a second language (L2) infer and learn the meaning of unknown words. It is, however, unclear how morphological awareness evolves in adult English-speaking learners of instructed L2 Spanish and how this development relates to vocabulary knowledge. Moreover, the manner in which derivational morphology is instructed is unknown. This dissertation examines these aspects within four studies.

Study 1 explores the development of morphological awareness for English-speaking learners of instructed Spanish L2 (n=209) and whether development depends on vocabulary size or other factors, such as proficiency. The results suggest that proficiency is the main predictor of morphological awareness. When morphological awareness was receptively measured, i.e., learners analyzed and identified derivational suffixes, higher levels of awareness were reached even at the lowest proficiency level. When it was productively measured, i.e., learners analyzed, identified, and manipulated derivational suffixes, mastery was only achieved by the most advanced learners. Thus, a partial awareness of morphology precedes a more complete awareness. Moreover, the number of derivational suffixes that these L2 learners manipulated was limited.

Study 2 also surveys morphological awareness by making the participants of Study 1 infer the meaning and structure of unknown words. The findings suggest that though all learners rely on derivational morphology but advanced learners deploy morphological awareness the most.

Study 3 examines the implicit knowledge of derivational morphology, specifically distributional and semantic knowledge, from the participants of Study 1 and 2. In a timed Lexical Decision Task, learners accurately distinguished violations from non-violations, i.e., learners were aware of distributional and semantic constraints. Learners’ reactions were also dependent on the suffix of the word, which suggests that every suffix can be independently learned and stored. These learners, however, did not show RTs that decreased with proficiency, which suggests they have yet to automatize derivational knowledge.

Study 4 uses Borg’s framework (2003) to investigate classroom practices and teachers’ beliefs about derivational morphology for five Spanish instructors at a large university. The classroom observations reveal that derivational teaching is mostly unplanned, incidental, scarce, and, on occasion, ambiguous. Neither textbooks nor teaching training emphasize the teaching of derivational morphology.

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