Spoken discourse markers and English language teaching: practices and pedagogies

Jones, Christian (2011) Spoken discourse markers and English language teaching: practices and pedagogies. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis reports on a mixed methods classroom research study carried out at a British university. The study investigates the effectiveness of two different explicit teaching approaches, Illustration – Interaction – Induction (III) and Present – Practice – Produce (PPP) used to teach the same spoken discourse markers to two different groups of Chinese learners at the same level of language competency. It was hypothesised that one explicit teaching approach would be more effective than the other in terms of both short and longer term acquisition and both would be more effective than no teaching when viewed objectively with test data and subjectively by the learners themselves.

Thirty six Chinese learners (fourteen male, twenty two female) at the same level of language proficiency were assigned to three groups, experimental group 1 (III), experimental group 2 (PPP) and group 3 (control). The average age of the learners was twenty two and all were taking a three week pre-sessional in academic English. Each experimental group received ten hours of explicit instruction on the target language. The control group received no instruction on the target language. The III group were taught using activities which presented the language in context and encouraged them to notice features of the target language by sensitising them to differences between spoken and written modes of language and by comparing the target language with their first language. This group were not given any practice of the target language in class. The PPP group were taught using activities which presented the language in context, checked meaning and form and provided them with opportunities to practice in class.

The hypothesis was tested through the use of a free response speaking test used as a pre-test, an immediate post-test and a delayed post-test of eight weeks. The tests were analysed for the amount of target DMs used and learners were rated for interactive ability, discourse management and global achievement. In addition, diaries kept by each learner in the experimental group and focus group interviews were analysed to assess the extent to which this qualitative data supported or added to the quantitative data.

Raw counts of the target DMs and interactive ability, discourse management and global test scores indicated that both experimental groups outperformed the control group in the immediate post-test in terms of the target DMs used but that this was weaker in the delayed test. Raw interactive ability, discourse management and global scores weakened in the immediate post-test but improved in the delayed test, suggesting that the increase in use of target DMs did not have an impact upon these scores. Univariate analysis of the pre- and post-tests, using one-way ANOVAs, indicated statistically significant differences between the experimental PPP group and the control group in terms of a higher mean usage of the target DMs in the immediate post-test, whilst the III group's score did not indicate a statistically significant difference when compared to the PPP and control groups. The analysis of the interactive ability, discourse management and global scores did not demonstrate statistically significant differences between the groups.

The qualitative results were analysed with Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) software and supported some of the findings from the test results. This data demonstrated that both groups felt that instruction on the target language was of value to them and the PPP group found their method to be generally more useful, which tallied with their better performances on the tests. The III group showed more evidence of having noticed aspects of language, such as the difference between the target language and their first language and how these spoken forms differ from written ones, although both groups displayed some metalinguistic awareness. Both groups were generally in favour of practice within the classroom but also expressed some strong doubts about its usefulness and articulated a desire for a different kind of practice to be used in class, based on rehearsal for real world tasks. This suggested the need to re-conceptualise practice within III, PPP or other teaching frameworks.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Carter, R.A.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Discourse markers, English language teaching, methodology
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
ID Code:2260
Deposited By:Christian Jones
Deposited On:14 Mar 2012 09:14
Last Modified:14 Mar 2012 09:16

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