Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Contrastive Analysis in Second-Language Teaching : Spanish Suprasegmentals

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  • Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this exploratory study is to find an accepted methodology for teaching second-language suprasegrnentals by investigating the question of whether or not the use of contrastive analysis is superior to another method that does not use contrastive analysis. Specifically, the comparison of methods is made by teaching and then evaluating English-speaking students performance in the use of Spanish suprasegmentals: rhythm, stress, patterns and terminal juncture. Procedures: A pre/post-test based on perceptual analysis was designed and administered to two groups of subjects, all second-year Spanish students at the university level. Between the pre- and post-tests, the students received four twenty-minute periods of instruction in the use of Spanish suprasegmentals. Both groups were taught similarly but one group was taught with a contrastive analysis approach while the other was not. Tapes of student performance were evaluated by a perceptual analysis on the part of the instructor-researcher. Results of the pre/post-tests in the two groups were analyzed for significant differences in performance by means of analysis of covariance. The F-value decision as to significance was made at the .05 level. Findings of the Study: No significant differences in suprasegmental performance were found between the two groups. Implication: These findings, as revealed by the test designed for this study, suggest that the use of a contrastive analysis methodology in suprasegmental teaching was not superior to a methodology that did not use contrastive analysis. Recommendations: Further research could be done in the areas of the value of contrastive analysis between English and an Indo-European language other than Spanish, of the value of such analysis compared to another methodology and the reasons for the variations between the scores of rhythm and terminal juncture. The study could be replicated in classes where the instructor was the principal teacher. This would allow less condensed instruction in a more natural setting, more application to the context of the lessons and less emphasis on perfect attendance. Consideration should be given to the possibility of more than one test evaluator.
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