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An experimental study of two methods of teaching oral French Brighouse, Thomas Joseph


This study is an examination of the effectiveness of a method of teaching French phonics at the junior high school level and its effect in reducing the dangers of using the printed word from the beginning of language study. Fifty-two grade IX students with no previous experience of French were taught a specially written ten week course using the mimicry-memorization method of learning sentence patterns in French. One group, the "two impression" group, studied this material with only oral-auditory stimuli, seeing only the English equivalent of the French they were expected to know. The other group, the "four impression" group, learned the same material by the oral, auditory, visual and kinesthetic stimuli since from the first lesson they saw and copied the French spelling after doing oral auditory drill. Special care was taken in drilling the latter group in the French orthographic system and in its phonetic basis. Students were expected in this way to "overlearn" the unit on French phonics in an attempt to reduce the English-type mispronunciation that could be expected. From the two groups were selected matched pairs using the following criteria for purposes of matching: first, I.Q.; secondly, the current year's grades on the June examinations in English language, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies; and lastly musical aptitude. Groups had equal number of boys and girls. Tests were administered in auditory comprehension, in oral translation from English into French, and in pronunciation of French. A comparison of the means at the end of the ten week course showed a slight difference in favour of the two impression group in auditory comprehension and in favour of the four impression group in oral translation and pronunciation. None of these differences was significant at the 5% level. The analysis of type and number of errors in the pronunciation test showed that those who saw the French had slightly more errors of pronunciation which seemed to be caused by interference from the English orthographic system. There were twice as many errors of this type in the four impression group as in the two impression group. These mistakes represented only six per cent of the total number of mistakes made. It was noted that those who had seen no French spelling still tended to mispronounce some French words in an English way. It is concluded that the overlearning of French phonics appeared to have overcome what disadvantage might be expected to accrue from the teaching of French using the written word from the beginning.

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