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Identifying Native Language Difficulties Among Foreign Language Learners in College: A "foreign" language learning disabilities?



Identifying Native Language Difficulties Among Foreign Language Learners.

Identifying Native Language Difficulties Among Foreign Language Learners.



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Identifying Native Language Difficulties Among Foreign Language Learners in College: A "foreign" language learning disabilities? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Identifying Native Language Difficulties among Foreign Language Learners in College: A “foreign” language learning disability? Leonard Ganschow, Richard L. Sparks, James Javorsky, Jane Pohlman, & Andrea Bishop-Marbury Presenter: Cindy
  • 2. Outline Introduction I Literature Review II Method III Instruments and Procedures IV Results and Discussion V Summary and Future Directions VI
  • 3. Introduction
    • The authors described studies that at-risk foreign language learners exhibit linguistic coding problems —subtle phonological, syntactic, and/or semantic difficulties—in their native language .
    • This “linguistic coding deficit” hypothesis forms the basis for the purpose of this study:
    • to compare successful and unsuccessful foreign language learners on variable thought to be related to learning a foreign language.
  • 4.
    • Evidence
    • for
    • Foreign Language
    • Learning Disabilities
  • 5. The first reference to a relationship between dyslexia and foreign language learning problems Students with foreign language learning problems were thought to be underachievers. These students had difficulties understanding the language, speaking it, or both. Foreign language learning problems with suspected or identified learning disabilities because of inability to meet the foreign language requirement . There has been only one empirical study on the foreign language learning abilities of Ss with LD . 1960s 1971 1980
  • 6.
    • Dinklage (1971) described three types of unsuccessful foreign language learners:
    1 Students who were unable to “ hear ” the language and had the problems with an oral communication approach to foreign language learning 3 Students who had memory problems for sound and words (which often overlapped with listening difficulties). 2 Students who had difficulties with the written (reading and writing) aspects of the language
  • 7.
    • In Gajar’s (1987) study
    • Subjects : Students with LD and non-LD
    • Tasks : They took the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT), which uses a simulated language to measure aspects of oral and written language.
    • Results :
    • Students with LD exhibited significantly lower performance on all five of the MLAT subtests but especially on Subtest 4, which measures sensitivity to grammatical structure , and
    • Subtest 5, which measures the rote memory aspect of leaning a foreign language.
  • 8.  
  • 9. The Language-Based Nature of Foreign Language Learning Difficulties
    • In examining the nature of foreign language aptitude through factor analysis, John Carroll, the author of MLAT, identified four aspects area, which he called
    • (a) phonetic coding , or the ability to code auditory phonetic material in such a way that this material can be recognized, identified, and remembered over time;
    • (b) grammatical sensitivity , or the ability to handle grammar;
    • (c) inductive language learning ability , or the ability to infer linguistic forms, rules, or patterns from new linguistic content;
    • (d) rote memory for foreign language learning materials, or the capacity to learn a large number of phonetic and grammatical associations.
  • 10.
    • Like Carroll, Pimsleur (1966) developed a test of foreign language aptitude , the Language Aptitude Battery .
    • Pimsleur stated that “ auditory ability ” was measured by sound discrimination and sound-symbol association tests.
    • Auditory ability was perhaps the chief factor that distinguished underachievers from successful language learners (Pimsleur, 1968; Pimsleur et al., 1964).
  • 11. Subtests 1 & 2 of Carroll’s MLAT also measure auditory ability
  • 12.
    • Besides Carroll’s and Pimsleur’s theories, other attempts have been made to predict success in foreign language learning using
    • (1) general cognitive ability,
    • (2) language aptitude (Gardner & Lambert, 1972;
    • Jakobovits, 1970; Pimsleur et al., 1964; Wesche
    • et al., 1982), and
    • (3) attitude/motivation measures, such as high
    • anxiety, low motivation, or negative attitude,
    • are the result of language learning problems
    • (Sparks and Ganschow, 1991).
  • 13. The Language-Based Nature of Native Language Learning Difficulties
    • The presence of oral language and communication deficits associated with LD has been well established in the literature (Myklebust, 1964; Johnson, & Myklebust, 1967; Wiig & Semel, 1976, 1980).
    • The relationship of oral language proficiency to later academic achievement is also well documented, e.g., preschool language impairments may result in later reading, writing, and spelling difficulties (Forrell & Hood, 1985; Lee & Shapero-Fine, 1984; Stark et al., 1984).
  • 14.
    • Besides, the characteristics of children with LD….
    • the deficits in reading comprehension could result from a generalized lack of linguistic awareness (Menyuk & Flood, 1981).
    • difficulties in dealing with the complex syntactic structures of spoken language (Glass & Perna, 1986; Magee & Newcomer, 1978; Newcomer & Magee, 1977; Vogel, 1975; Wiig, Semel, & Crouse, 1973).
    • deficits in written language that appear to persist into adulthood .
  • 15.
    • Poor readers often have deficient listening comprehension skills (Buerger, 1978; Chall, 1983; Curtis, 1980; Smiley, Oakley, Worthen, Campione, & Brown, 1977; Stanovich, Cunningham, & feeman, 1984.)
    • Oftentimes, these language deficits persist and create learning problems in college for students with LD.
  • 16. All of these findings strongly suggest that oral language disorders play a causal role in later reading and writing difficulties associated with LD (Butler, 1988; Liberman, 1982; Liberman & Shankweiler, 1979; Perfetti, 1985; Vellutino, 1979).
  • 17. Linkages between Native and Foreign Language
    • Vellutino and Scanlon (1986) coined the term “ linguistic coding ” to refer to the use of language to code information and, specifically, to the functional use of the phonological, syntactic, and semantic attributes of the language.
  • 18. Poor Readers’ Main Difficulty difficulty in processing structural and formal properties o f spoken and printed words deficit in metalinguistic awareness deficit in awareness of the elements of language Students with reading disorders
  • 19.
    • --> Vellutino and Scanlon stated that, because of these deficiencies, poor readers were more attuned to
    • the meaning (semantics) of the words and sentences
    • than the structural (phonological and syntactic) aspects.
  • 20.
    • These studies provided evidence that
    good readers attend to both meaning and structural components. poor readers attend more to the meaning (semantic) than the structural components (syntax, phonology) of language.
  • 21.
    • A pilot study (Sparks et al., 1989)
    • Subjects : College students who have been identified as having extreme difficulties learning foreign languages .
  • 22. 7 reached the third semester of the language only 1 was able to reach the third semester of the language 3rd semester one made it to the second semester 6 failed 2nd semester none failed 7 failed 1st semester 8 Ss with syntactic or semantic deficits 13 Ss with phonological deficits course failure level
  • 23. --> Specific linguistic coding problems in the students’ native language were especially apparent in the phonological domain. Results : Phonological problems of their native language had the most immediate and severe impact on foreign language learning.
  • 24. Phonological Coding & Reading/Listening
    • Problems with word decoding are significant contributors to variance in reading abilities (Perfetti, 1985; Stanovich, 1986).
    • Phonological processing abilities are strongly linked to later reading achievement (Catts, 1989; Catts & Kamhi, 1986; Gough & Hillinger, 1980; Liberman, 1971, 1982; Liberman & Shankweiler, 1979).
  • 25.
    • Children with reading disabilities are said to have less awareness of and sensitivity to the speech-sound structure of the language (Catts & Kamhi, 1986, 1987; Liberman, 1982).
    • Listening problems are also found in college students with learning disabilities (Morris & Leuenberger, 1990).
  • 26. Research Purpose
    • The purpose of the present study was to determine whether there would be significant differences between successful and unsuccessful (petition) college foreign language learners on test of intelligence , foreign language aptitude , oral and written language , and mathematics .
  • 27. METHOD Subjects 30 juniors and seniors matched by sex and year in college
    • 15 successful foreign language Ss
    • The GPAs ranged from 2.6 to 3.5.
    • SAT/ACTs were converted to
    • percentiles for basis of
    • comparison and ranged from
    • the 45th percentile to the 99th
    • percentile.
    • 15 petition Ss
    • The GPAs ranged from 2.1 to 3.3.
    • SAT/ACTs were ranged from the 1st percentile to 93rd percentile.
  • 28. SAT/ACTs & GPAs
    • As the table indicates, there were no significant differences between groups on SAT/ACTs scores, F (1,22) = 2.00, p = .17; however, there were significant differences on GPAs, F (1,29) = 10.24, p = .003.
  • 29. Instruments and Procedures
    • Instruments used to assess foreign language learners
  • 30.
    • (1) intelligence : WAIS-R;
    • (2) foreign language aptitude : MLAT Long Form,
    • Parts I-V and Short Form, Parts III-V;
    • (3) phonology : Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock (GFW),
    • Sound Blending and Spelling of Sounds subtests;
    • MLAT, Parts I (Number Learning), II (Phonetic Script),
    • and V (Paired Associates); Wide Range Achievement
    • Test-Revised (WRAT-R) Spelling; Woodcock-Johnson
    • Psycho-Educational Battery, Part II (WJPB) Letter-Word
    • Identification and Word Attack subtests;
    • (4) grammar and syntax : MLAT Part IV, Words in
    • sentences; WJPB, Written Language;
    • (5) semantics : that is, vocabulary and reading
    • comprehension: MLAT-Part III, Spelling Clues; WJPB,
    • antonym-Synonyms and Picture Vocabulary subtests.
    • Passage Comprehension subtests;
    • (6) mathematics : WJPB, Mathematics cluster.
  • 31. TOWL-2
    • A 15-minute writing sample , in which the students were asked to take a position in a topic of their choice, was also collected.
    • A scoring method was adapted from the Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL-2) (Hammill & Larsen, 1988) and included measures of
    A T-unit is defined as a main clause plus attached or embedded subordinate clauses (Hunt, 1965, 1970) and provides a gross measure of syntactic complexity .
  • 32.
    • In this study, the 30 writing samples with names removed and errors included were typed onto sheets, which were shuffled and graded independently by the authors. They cross-checked scores for accuracy.
    • This scoring method differs from the TOWL-2, wherein total number of words or errors in a given sample are counted.
  • 33.
    • Procedure:
    • Students were tested individually over several time periods totaling approximately 5 hours.
    • Achievement tests were administered by the authors; intelligence tests were administered by a licensed psychologist.
  • 34. Analysis of Data
    • An ANOVA procedure was used to determine the level of significance of the difference of the difference between successful and unsuccessful foreign language learners on each test and test cluster in the diagnostic battery.
    • Standard scores were used in the analysis of data.
    • A level of .05 was used as the criterion for significance.
    • Bonferroni (Dunn) and Tukey T -tests were performed on variables with unequal numbers of scores (due to the omission of a given test in an individual’s test profile) to confirm the ANOVA results.
    • Measures of Intelligence
    • Table 2 represents a statistical comparison of group means on full-scale intelligence and IQ subscales .
  • 36.
    • Results
    • Results of WAIS-R IQ comparisons showed no differences between the groups on Verbal Performance, and Full-Scale IQ.
    • One subtest: Vocabulary , F (1,29) = 7.29, p = .01, distinguished the groups.
  • 37.
    • The findings on intellectual functioning support earlier studies by Carroll (1958), Pimsleur (Pimsleur, 1968; Pimsleur et al., 1964).
    • Intelligence is not a significant factor in the prediction of success in foreign language classes.
    • The significant difference on the Vocabulary subtest of the WAIS-R lends support to a finding by Lefebvre (1984) that college students identified as LD because of foreign language difficulties scored lower than students with LD referred to the University of Virginia’s Counseling Center for other academic problems.
  • 38. Measures of Foreign Language Aptitude
    • Results
    • Significant differences between the groups were found on the total test and all of the subtests.
    • For both groups, performance on Subtest IV (Words in Sentence) was lower than any of the other subtests.
  • 39. Measure of Academic Performance
    • Results
    • Most petition students have difficulty with tasks involving sounds and sound-symbol relationships in English.
  • 40.
    • As reported under MLAT Part I and II, the measurement of phonological performance, were also significant.
  • 41. Measures of Phonology
    • This finding is consistent with Dinklage’s (1971, 1985) observations of Harvard students, some of whom had difficulty remembering sounds and problems hearing the language .
    • Findings also support factor analyses by Carroll (1962), who identified phonetic coding factors related to success in foreign language, and research by Pimsleur and colleagues (Pimsleur, 1968; Pimsleur et al., 1964), who reported an auditory ability factor .
    • These results are also consistent with the LD literature, which has shown difficulties with phonology to be the basis for variance in reading ability of students with LD (Bradley & Bryant, 1985; Kamhi & Catts, 1989; Wagner & Torgesen, 1987).
  • 42. Grammar & Syntax Significant differences between groups
  • 43. Grammar & Syntax
    • Results showed that scores of petition Ss and successful foreign language learners differed in Spelling and Usage, but not in Punctuation and Capitalization.
  • 44.
    • The findings on T-unit measures are consistent with studies by Vogel (1985) and others (Morris & Crump, 1982), who found that Ss with LD differed significantly in productivity, but not in numbers of word per T-unit.
    • Vogel (1985) suggested that complexity within a T-unit, or “syntactic density” (for example, number of subordinate clauses per T-unit), may be a more important discriminator.
  • 45. Grammar & Syntax
    • Overall findings on measures of grammar and syntax are consistent with….
    • Carroll (1968) identified a “ grammatical sensitivity ” factor related to success in learning a foreign language.
    • Syntactic deficits in written language observed in college students with LD (Blalock, 1981; Gregg, 1983; Vogel, 1985; Vogel & Moran, 1982).
  • 46. Semantics
    • Tests measuring semantics as related to vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension showed no significant differences between groups.
  • 47.
    • These findings support the author’s speculation that the foreign language differences are not at the level of overall semantic understanding , as measured by these instruments.
  • 48. The overall mean of the petition Ss was in the average range.
  • 49. Successful foreign language learners scored in the superior level . The overall mean of the petition Ss was in the average range.
  • 50. Mathematics
    • Overall findings suggested that petition students did not have difficulties with math.
  • 51. Discussion
    • Findings on petition students in this study showed that they differed most from successful foreign language learners at the phonological and syntactic (grammatical) levels in their native language.
    • Petition students performed significantly poorer than successful foreign language learners on tests measuring ability to identify single words in reading , synthesize isolated sounds into meaningful words , and spell words . They also performed more poorly on written language tasks , in terms of grammar and productivity.
  • 52.
    • The findings of the study suggest that, overall, the MLAT , measures the spelling performance, and a writing sample are the best indicators, in that petition Ss’ overall means differed by at least one standard deviation from their cognitive performance on the standardized measures.
  • 53.
    • Limitation of the study : Small sample size because of the difficulties in locating a population of petition students.
    • Based on the finding of this study, the authors suggest that the presence of difficulties with phonological and syntactic skills in one’s native language may be in indicators of potential foreign language difficulties.
  • 55.
    • There are two issues that need further exploration:
    • Further studies should examine specifically the role of verbal memory (Carroll, 1958; Dinklage, 1971), listening comprehension (Ganschow & Sparks, 1986; Morris & Leuenberger, 1990), and oral expression (Pimsleur, Hancock, & Furey, 1977) in foreign language learning.
  • 56.
    • 2. The second issue is the question of ‘how to qualify for a foreign language waiver/course substitution.’ (Ganschow et al., 1989)
  • 57.
    • The authors suggest that questions such as the following be considered:
    • (1) Will phonological and/or syntactic training help foreign language learners as it has children and adults with learning disabilities (Ball & Blachman, 1988; Liberman, 1987; Lundberg, Olofsson, & Wall, 1980)?
    • (2) Should languages that rely less on ability to converse (e.g., Latin) or represent logographic rather than orthographic systems (e.g., Chinese) be considered for students with phonological deficits (Fisher, 1986; Ganschow & Sparks, 1987)?
    • (3) Will further research in second language learning provide a casual link between native and foreign language leaning problem (Sparks & Ganschow, 1991)?
    • (4) What kind of appropriate instruction catered to specific learning needs could fulfill the foreign language requirement?
  • 58. Thank You !