The Effects of Two Teaching Methodologies on the Hierarchy of Difficulty of Restrictive Relative Clauses among Taiwanese Tenth Graders

| January 8, 2014

December 2007. Volume 2 Issue 3

The Effects of Two Teaching Methodologies on the Hierarchy
of Difficultyof Restrictive Relative Clauses among
Taiwanese Tenth Graders

Ying-chien Cheng
Lan Yang Institute of Technology, Taiwan

Ying-chien Cheng received her Ed.D. degree from Texas A&M University-Kingsville with a major in Bilingual Education and her M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a specialization in Applied English Linguistics. Recently she works as a Full-time English Associate Professor at Lan-yang Institute of Technology, Tou-cheng, Yi-lan, Taiwan. Her research interests include applied linguistics, second language acquisition, EFL, and bilingual education.

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The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of two different grammar teaching approaches—forms-focused instruction vs. the integration of forms-focused instruction and communicative language teaching—on the learning of English restrictive relative clause construction by one hundred and fifty tenth graders, studying in a private boarding high school in the northeast area of Taiwan. A six-week ‘quasi-experimental’ design and three kinds of grammar tests (a grammaticality completion test, a sentence combining test, and a sentence rearrangement test) were employed in the course of the investigation. The Statistical Package for the Social Science (version 12.0) was used to analyze the quantitative data (significance level was set at .05).
The major findings of this study are as follows. First, the results of the gains from the pre- to the post-test have shown that the syntactic hierarchy of difficulty was OO, SS, followed by SO, and OS, which were consistent with Sheldon’s (1974) Parallel Function Hypothesis (henceforth PFH). Second, research results have indicated no change in the hierarchy of difficulty for students in the experimental group from the pre- to the post-test. The hierarchy of difficulty for the experimental group from easiest to most difficult was OO, SS, SO, and OS. On the post-test, the hierarchy of difficulty for the control group was OO, SS, OS, and SO. OO and SS are the two less marked structures for the two groups of students. The results have also corroborated Sheldon’s (1974) PFH. Based on the findings of this study, several pedagogical implications and recommendations for future study are discussed.

Keywords: forms-focused instruction, communicative language teaching, English restrictive relative clause construction, quasi-experimental design, the syntactic hierarchy of difficult

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Category: 2007