Two experimental studies in foreign language learning/teaching

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Stockholm University

Sammanfattning: The case for experimental research on the efficiency of methods of foreign language teaching is pleaded. In the first study, the effects of different practice materials on beginners' word-decoding ability in Russian was examined. The Russian words were divided into three categories: 1. The KTO-type. These words are in conflict with Swedish phonotactic rules and their meaning is not evident to a Swedish beginner. 2. The MAKET-type These words are phonotactically non-contrastive. To a Swedish learner, they are semantically opaque, however. 3. The ATOM-type. These words are also phonotactically non-contrastive and their meaning is potentially transparent to the Swedish beginner. Three groups of subjects were formed — each group practising on one and only one of the word-types. All subjects were then given a decoding test on all three types. No significant differences between groups were found, but there was significant interaction to the effect that the group that had practised on the more difficult KTO-type of words was better at decoding that type than the other groups. This group got the decoding of the MAKET and ATOM types into the bargain. Thus, in this case, progression need not be ' from the simple to the difficult ". In fact, it seems preferable to start with the more difficult words In the second experiment, two different ways of learning vocabulary in a foreign language (English) were compared, viz. concept learning in 11 with subsequent memorization of the L2 labels vs. concept learning in L2 with subsequent memorization of the L1 labels. The concepts and vocabulary of heraldry were used. With a group of university students of English, the English labels were learned more efficiently in the L2 concept learning case. With a group of 17-year-old high-school pupils, however, the results were inconclusive. It is suggested that the outcome in the latter case is due to language (LI) preference in connection with, or rather than, poorer foreign language proficiency The results indicate, then, that concept learning as a means to foreign language vocabulary acquisition will be effective in many cases, where the learning situation is comparable to the present experimental situation: i.e. where it is possible to combine the learning of L2 with the acquisition of new knowledge about the world. The L2 proficiency and language preferences of the learners must be taken into account, however