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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation on the language structures in beginning readers compared with the language structures taught for oral proficiency in the teaching of English as a second language in the Philippines. Maminta, Rosario E.

Abstract

The major assumption underlying this investigation was that pupils learning English as a second language read more effectively if beginning reading materials consist of language structures which are taught in the oral language program. It was believed that structures learned in the oral language course would reinforce reading skills and vice versa. Research evidence based on modern linguistic theory has indicated that patterns of form and arrangement of words, not words in isolation alone, contribute to meaning. It has also been shown that comprehension is a function of the degree of similarity between the language structures learned orally and the language structures used in the reading passage. The present study analyzed and compared the language structures in the beginning readers with the language structures which are taught for oral proficiency in the teaching guides for English used in Philippine schools. The T-unit, which is the shortest grammatically independent segment of language, consisting of one independent clause and all subordinate clauses attached to it was the basis of syntactic analysis and measurement. The language samples from the oral language guides and the reading texts were analyzed and compared on two levels. The first-level analysis was concerned with the underlying basic patterns and the length of the T-units as well as other related structural features. The second level analysis determined the kinds and number of constructions produced by sentence-combining transformations. The analysis of data revealed that there was a close similarity between the kinds of basic patterns which occurred in the oral language materials and in the readers. The frequency of occurrence centered around a few commonly used patterns. There were relatively more rare patterns in the reading passages than in the oral language materials. The length of the T-unit in the readers was greater than in the oral language materials. The greater length of the T-unit in the reading texts was due to the greater number of subordinate clauses and non-clausal constructions produced by sentence-combining transformations. The kinds and functions of constructions resulting from sentence-combining transformations which occurred with highest frequencies in the reading texts were similar to those in the oral language materials. But the data also indicated that types of rare constructions occurred more frequently in the reading passages than in the oral language materials. The greater number of sentence-combining transformations reflects greater complexity of language structures in the reading passages compared to the language structures in the oral language materials. This finding suggests that when the Filipino pupil begins to read English, his oral language background seems inadequate to cope with the difficulty level related to the complexity of structures of his reading materials. Further investigations are necessary to provide more useful guidelines for evolving effective reading materials in second language teaching. Suggested follow-up studies in second language classroom situations include comparison of comprehension between commonly used patterns and rare patterns, an investigation to establish a hierarchy of difficulty of the different kinds of sentence-combining transformations, and a quantitative study to determine the relationship of comprehension to the number of transformations in a reading passage.

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