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The role of vocabulary and grammar knowledge in second-language oral fluency: A correlational study Nel de Jong, Free University Amsterdam Laura Halderman,

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Presentation on theme: "The role of vocabulary and grammar knowledge in second-language oral fluency: A correlational study Nel de Jong, Free University Amsterdam Laura Halderman,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of vocabulary and grammar knowledge in second-language oral fluency: A correlational study Nel de Jong, Free University Amsterdam Laura Halderman, University of Pittsburgh SLRF 2009, Michigan State University

2 Oral Fluency in L2 Speakers Broad vs. narrow definition (Lennon, 1990) – Broad: general oral proficiency – Narrow: speed and smoothness of oral delivery Oral fluency depends on fast and automatic retrieval of vocabulary and processing of grammar knowledge (e.g., Levelt, 1999; Kormos, 2006; Schmidt, 1992) Lexical and grammatical knowledge play a large role in second language oral fluency

3 Lexical knowledge Lexical retrieval in writing – Lexical retrieval training of words lead to greater use of those items and more essential content elements were expressed. No effect on global text quality. (Snellings et al., 2004) Lack of (access to) lexical knowledge is a major cause of dysfluencies (Hilton, 2007)

4 Aspects of Lexical Knowledge Breadth – How many words a person knows – Greater breadth leads to fewer lexical searches Depth – How well a person knows a word – Greater depth leads to easier integration into context Lexical retrieval speed – How fast a person retrieves a word – Faster retrieval leads to less dysfluencies

5 Grammatical knowledge Automatic syntactic encoding is fast and requires little attention – (Anderson et al., 2004; Kormos, 2006; Segalowitz & Hulstijn, 2003) Automaticity leads to oral fluency – (De Jong & Perfetti, in preparation; Towell, Hawkins, & Bazergui, 2006) Implicit grammatical knowledge can tell us what structures have been proceduralized

6 Test of Grammatical Ability Elicited Imitation: – Repetition of sentences with target structures – Percent Correct – Controlled test of productive accuracy (cf. grammaticality judgments) – Reconstructive vs. rote memory (Bley-Vroman & Chaudron, 1996; Erlam, 2006; Munnich et al., 1996)

7 Research Goal Examine the relationship between lexical and grammatical knowledge and oral fluency in a sample of English Language Learners

8 Our Tests Picture Naming – Immediate & Delayed – Breadth of Lexical Knowledge – Lexical Retrieval Speed (Immediate) – Articulation Rate (Delayed) Vocabulary Knowledge Scale – Depth of Lexical Knowledge Elicited Imitation – Grammatical Knowledge Two minute recorded monologue – Oral production sample

9 Measures of Oral Fluency Temporal Measures: A.Length of fluent runs –Number of syllables between pauses B.Length of pauses C.Phonation/time ratio –% of time filled with speech D.Articulation rate –Syllables per minute (Kormos & Dénes; Towell et al., 1996)

10 Hypotheses 1.Greater breadth of vocabulary [PN accuracy] => longer fluent runs; higher phonation/time ratio 2.Faster lexical retrieval [Imm. PN RT] => shorter pauses 3.Greater vocabulary depth [VKS] => longer fluent runs 4.Greater grammatical ability [EI] => longer fluent runs

11 Participants 23 students enrolled in English language courses; Speaking course High intermediate (~60-79 on Michigan Test of English Language Proficiency) L1s: Arabic (3), Chinese (3), French (1), Italian (2), Japanese (3), Korean (5), Russian (1), Slovak (1), and Spanish (1), Turkish (3)

12 Picture Naming Immediate – Timing began as soon as the picture was shown Delayed – Timing began at the onset of a “beep” that was played 3 seconds after the picture appeared 24 pictures of nouns each Frequency bands sampled – , , & ,000 Measures – Accuracy & Reaction Time

13 Vocabulary Knowledge Scale 12 nouns, 12 verbs Four frequency bands: – , , & ,000 Definitions: – 1-9 words; avg. 4.0 words – Only 2,000 most frequent words – Distracter definitions adapted from Vocabulary Levels Test

14 Target word Definitions shown when is selected Textbox to type sentence

15 Elicited Imitation 32 sentences, 16 were grammatically incorrect 8 grammatical structures: – third person singular –s– regular plural nouns – embedded questions– regular past tense – indefinite articles– relative clauses – Modals– verb complements Sentences: 6-11 words, avg. 8.2 Sampled from Erlam (2006)

16 Elicited Imitation Target structure Grammatically correctGrammatically incorrect Embedded questions It’s not clear when the next election will be Everyone wants to know what is the president like Relative clauses It’s wrong to make a promise that you can’t keep. Jobs that people like them pay a lot Verb complements Some universities allow students to travel abroad for a year Expensive restaurants ask their customers to wearing nice clothes

17 Results: Time 1 PN overall accuracy PN immediate RT † VKS EI accuracy LFR *.438*.597***.597*** MLP PTR-.467* AR *.423*.678*** * p <.05; ** p <.01; *** p <.001 † Frequency & ,000 only

18 Results: Time 2 PN overall accuracy PN immediate RT † PN immediate accuracy EI accuracy LFR MLP * PTR *.445*-.058 AR * * * p <.05; ** p <.01; *** p <.001 † Frequency & ,000 only

19 Conclusions from Correlations PN accuracy (breadth) correlates with MLP and PTR, but inconsistently Outlier in the Pretest measures? Easier to find appropriate word (more fluent) EI (grammatical ability) and VKS (depth) correlate with LFR – Building sentence structures EI (grammatical ability) and VKS (depth) correlate with AR – Do students slow down their articulation rate for planning?

20 Gains Time 1 – Time 2: Picture Naming Accuracy Main effect of pre/post Main effect of frequency Interaction - naming type by frequency – Frequency effect only in Immediate Naming: – Naming under time pressure is less accurate

21 Gains Time 1 – Time 2: Picture Naming Reaction Time Main effect of naming type Interaction - naming type by time – Effect of time only in Delayed Naming: – No improvement in lexical retrieval, but in initiation of articulatory processes (cf. Barry et al., 2001)

22 Gains Time 1 – Time 2: Elicited Imitation Main effects time, structure, accuracy Interaction (marginally sign.) structure X accuracy X pretest/posttest

23 Conclusions from Pre/Post-tests Improvement in vocabulary breadth Improvement in initiation of articulatory processes Naming under time pressure is less accurate – Lexical retrieval in speeches also occurs under time pressure Improvement in grammatical ability – Mostly noun plurals, relative clauses, verb complements

24 Hypotheses 1.Greater breadth of vocabulary [PN accuracy] => longer fluent runs; higher phonation/time ratio PTR: yes; MLFR: no 2.Faster lexical retrieval [Imm. PN RT] => shorter pauses No support 3.Greater vocabulary depth [VKS] => longer fluent runs Yes; and higher articulation rate 4.Greater grammatical ability [EI] => longer fluent runs Yes; and higher articulation rate

25 Possible Explanations Curriculum focuses on academic vocabulary acquisition – Our Pictures sample more general vocabulary and highly imageable nouns Recorded monologues are very open-ended – It’s hard to predict what vocabulary and grammatical structures they will use

26 Many thanks to: Co-PIs: Prof. Charles Perfetti, Dr. Laura Halderman Research assistants: Colleen Davis, Mary Lou Vercellotti The students and teachers at the ELI The Robert Henderson Language Media Center Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center Contact: This work was supported in part by the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, which is funded by the National Science Foundation award number SBE

27 Correlations Gains – Gains Gain in PTR with gain in Delayed Picture Naming r =.477, p =.053 n = 17 All other correlations n.s.

28 Extra slides …

29 Elicited Imitation Target structureGrammatically correctGrammatically incorrect Third person singular –s Every good story deserves a long titleThe temperature change a lot every season Embedded questions It’s not clear when the next election will be Everyone wants to know what is the president like Indefinite articlesEveryone likes to live in a big houseEveryone has telephone in their home Modal verbsYou must study for years to speak English well Everyone should to learn a second language Regular plural nouns Policemen arrest many criminals every day Car companies use many machine to build their products Regular past tenseA long time ago, nobody lived in citiesLast month, scientist discover a new moon Relative clausesIt’s wrong to make a promise that you can’t keep Jobs that people like them pay a lot Verb complementsSome universities allow students to travel abroad for a year Expensive restaurants ask their customers to wearing nice clothes

30 Overall Conclusions Vocabulary breadth predicts fluency – At single points in time: MLP and PTR – Gain: only Accuracy on Delayed Naming with PTR Lexical retrieval speed predicts articulation rate – Articulation rate is not a reflection of proceduralization Vocabulary depth predicts fluency – At single points in time: MLFR, AR – Gain: no post-test Implicit Grammar Knowledge predicts fluency measures the most – At single points in time: MLFR, AR – Gain: no significant correlations with temporal measures


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