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A comparative study of the language achievement of middle school and high school Spanish I students

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A comparative study of the language achievement of middle school and high school Spanish I students
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Verkler, Karen Wolz, 1956-
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Foreign language learning ( jstor )
High school students ( jstor )
High schools ( jstor )
Language ( jstor )
Language acquisition ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Middle schools ( jstor )
Nonnative languages ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Academic achievement ( lcsh )
Classroom environment ( lcsh )
Curriculum and Instruction thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Curriculum and Instruction -- UF
Middle school students -- Attitudes ( lcsh )
Spanish language -- Study and teaching (Secondary) ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1993.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 155-173).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Karen Wolz Verkler.

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A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE LANGUAGE ACHIEVEMENT
OF MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH I STUDENTS













By

KAREN WOLZ VERKLER


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA























This is dedicated to the one(s) I love.













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


This dissertation is the culmination of several years of intensive course work and

research whose completion has been facilitated by the encouragement, advice, and

assistance of many people. I wish to extend thanks to the chair of my doctoral

committee, Dr. Clemens L. Hailman, for his support and unyielding faith in me. I

would like to thank Dr. David Miller for his invaluable assistance and advice on the

design and statistical analysis of this study, his availability and patience, and his words

of encouragement. I also wish to thank Dr. Jeff Hurt for his candid feedback,

willingness to assist me, and his support in the completion of this study. To Dr. Lee

Mullally, I express my deepest appreciation for his friendship, guidance, inspiration,

generosity in giving freely of his time and gift of humor. His educational convictions

have made an impact that will remain with me long after I leave the University of

Florida to resume my professional career.

Special gratitude is also extended to Jo Johnson, Multilingual and Multicultural

Program Assistant, for her wise counsel and friendship. Her optimism and sense of

humor helped to make the frustrating times more bearable.

Thanks are extended to Bernice Schmelz, Collier County Coordinator of Language

Arts, for providing me with background information relative to this study and for

granting me permission to use the Collier County Spanish I Final Exam. I am

iii








appreciative of the county and school administrators and principals who allowed me to

conduct research within their schools. I wish to thank the Spanish teachers and

guidance counselors for their invaluable cooperation and assistance in test

administration and data collection. I am additionally grateful to the teachers for

permitting me to utilize their Spanish I classes in this investigation. Special thanks are

also extended to Sandy Bierkan, Trish Bowman, and Chris Eldredge for the

contribution of their time and expertise in the scoring of the Spanish I exams.

The completion of this dissertation would have been impossible without the love,

support, and sacrifice of some very special individuals. My weekly commute away

from home was facilitated by my brother-in-law, John Verkler, and my dear friend,

Debbie Noxon, who generously provided me with "homes away from home." I am

grateful for the love and pride shown by my daughter, Erin. 1 am also appreciative of

the numerous secretarial tasks that she performed, saving me countless hours

of additional work. Finally, I am most greatly indebted to my husband, Jim Verkler,

whose support, both emotional and financial, encouraged me to take one of the biggest

steps in my professional career--the pursuit of a doctoral degree. His love and faith in

me have been an unending source of motivation in the completion of this degree.















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................. iii

LIST OF TABLES ......... ............................ ix

ABSTRACT .......................................... x

CHAPTERS

1 INTRODUCTION ..................................... 1


Background of the Study .................
The Middle School Concept .............
The Effectiveness of the Middle School ......
Current Second Language Acquisition Theory ..
Middle School Foreign Language Programs ...
The Learning Environments of Middle School and
Spanish I Students ................
Statement of the Problem .................
Significance of the Study .................
Hypotheses ..........................
Definition of Terms ....................
Delimitations ........................
Limitations ..........................
Summary ...........................
Organization of the Dissertation .............


High School.
............



..........


. .
...........

... .. ..


...7
. 9
.12
.17
. 18
.19
.19
. 21
. 23


2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .......................... 24

The Middle School Concept ........................... 25
Middle School Practices ................................ 29
Educators Knowledgeable about and Committed to Transescents ..... 29
Varied Pedagogical Techniques ........................ 30
A Comprehensive Exploratory Program .................... 32
Extensive Advising and Counseling ................... .. 34
Cooperative Planning ............................ 36








Positive School Climate ..............................
Conclusion ..................................
The Effectiveness of the Middle School Concept .................
Early Research Findings: Student Attitudes .................
Early Research Findings: Academic Achievement ............
Later Studies: Comparative Studies ......................
Later Research Studies: Outlier Studies ....................
Sum m ary ......................................
Second Language Acquisition Theory ........................
The Acquisition-Learning Distinction .....................
Natural Order Hypothesis ............................
Monitor Hypothesis ................................
Input Hypothesis ..................................
Caretaker Speech ...............................
The Comprehensible Input Controversy ..................
The Role of Interaction in the Provision of Comprehensible Input ..
Affective Filter Hypothesis ............................
Motivation and Attitudinal Factors .....................
Self-confidence ................................
A nxiety .......... ...........................
Affective Education in Past Second Language Pedagogy .......
Sum mary ......................................
Implementation of Second Language Acquisition Theory in the
Second Language Classroom ...........................
The Natural Approach ..............................
The Total Physical Response ........................
Principles of the Total Physical Response and the Natural Approach


Interactive Language Teaching ....
An Eclectic Approach ..........
Summary ....................


38
39


83
85

87
87
88
91
94


............ .......... 97
....................... 98


3 METHODS AND PROCEDURES ................. ...... 102

Introduction ............ .......................... 102
Setting Selection ................................... 102
Setting Descriptions ........... ...................... 105
High Schools ................................... 105
Middle Schools ...................... ........... 106
Subject Selection ............. . . 108
Subject Description .......... . .. 108
High School ............ ....................... .... 108
M iddle School ....................... ........... 109
Data Collection ....... .... ....... ......... .... 10


. .








Instrumentation ........... ........ .............. 112
The Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire (FLAQ) .......... 113
Spanish I Exam ................................. 113
Reliability of Procedures .............................. 119
Reliabilities of the Multiple-Choice Sections of the Spanish I Exam 119
Interscorer Reliabilities ............................. 119
Procedural Reliability ............................ 124
Scoring Procedures of Student Responses .................... 125
Spanish I Exam ................................. 125
The Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire .............. 126
Experimental Design ................. ... ........... 126
Data Analysis .......................... ......... 128
Summary ...................................... .. 128

4 RESULTS ...................................... 130

Results ........................................ 131
Summary ............................ ........... 138

5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................ 139

Findings ...................................... 139
Discussion .............................. ......... 141
School Affiliation and Posttest Performance ................ 141
School Affiliation and Attitude Toward the Foreign Language
Learning Experience ............................ 142
Pretest .......... ............................. 143
G PA ................... ........... ......... 144
SES ............................ ........... 144
Implications ...................................... 144
Recommendations ................................... 147
Summary ............................ ............ 148

APPENDICES

A FOREIGN LANGUAGE ATTITUDE QUESTIONNAIRE EXCERPTS 151

B SPANISH I EXAM EXCERPTS: PART I LISTENING
COMPREHENSION .............................. 152

C SPANISH I EXAM EXCERPTS: PART m READING
COMPREHENSION ............ .................. 153








D PEARSON CORRELATION COEFFICIENTS OF PREDICTOR AND
CRITERION VARIABLES FOR REGRESSION ANALYSES ..... 154

REFERENCES .......... ................. ............ 155

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........... ..... ............... 174













LIST OF TABLES


Table page

3-1 High School Demographics .... ........................ 106

3-2 Middle School Demographics ............................ 107

3-3 RBANOVA and Variance Components for Holistic Scoring of Oral
Component of Spanish I Exam ........................ 123

3-4 RBANOVA and Variance Components for Holistic Scoring of Writing
Component of Spanish I Exam ................. ... 123

3-5 Generalizability Coefficients ............................ 124

4-1 Means and Standard Deviations for Pretest and Posttest Measures by School 131

4-2 Means and Standard Deviations for GPA, SES, and FLAQ by School .... 132

4-3 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Listening Comprehension ................... 133

4-4 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Writing Skill ........................... 134

4-5 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Reading Comprehension ................... 135

4-6 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Oral Skill ............................ 136

4-7 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Attitude Toward the Foreign Language Learning Experience 137













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE LANGUAGE ACHIEVEMENT OF MIDDLE
SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH I STUDENTS

By

Karen Wolz Verkler

December, 1993

Chairman: Clemens L. Hallman
Major Department: Instruction and Curriculum

Many Florida middle schools offer to eighth graders a year-long Spanish I course

that typically adheres to the same curriculum as that of Spanish I at the high school

level. Foreign language educators have frequently questioned whether middle school

Spanish I students, whose school setting differs greatly from the high school

environment, achieve language proficiency equivalent to that of high school Spanish I

students. This study was conducted to determine the effects of school affiliation on

the level of language competency attained by middle school and high school students.

Competency in all four language skills--listening comprehension, writing, reading

comprehension, and oral--was measured. Possible differences between the two groups

in attitude toward the foreign language learning experience were also examined.

The subjects in this study were 107 middle school eighth graders and 57 high

school ninth graders enrolled in Spanish I classes in four Florida school districts. At

x








the beginning of the school year, all subjects were administered as a pretest a Spanish

I Exam that tested all four language skills. The participating Spanish I teachers were

instructed to conduct their classes as usual for the duration of the school year. At the

end of the school year, all subjects were administered the same Spanish I Exam as a

posttest and the Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire. Student data on

socioeconomic status (SES) and GPA, variables that might influence performance on

the Spanish I posttest exam, were also collected.

To examine the effects of school affiliation, Spanish I Exam pretest score, SES,

and GPA on each of the four language skills and on attitude toward the foreign

language learning experience, multiple linear regression analyses were performed.

The results indicated that there was a significant relationship between school affiliation

and each of the posttest components. Middle school language achievement exceeded

that of the high school in all four language skills. In addition, middle school attitude

toward the foreign language learning experience was significantly more favorable than

that of the high school. Pretest score and GPA, but not SES, were significantly

related to language achievement and attitude.













CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION


Background of the Study

Since the early 1960s, an increasing number of school districts have been

converting their junior high schools, typically composed of seventh through ninth

grades, to the middle school organizational pattern. The middle school structure has

encompassed a variety of grade spans: grades 5-8, 6-8, 5-7, and 6-7. The most

prevalent organization of a middle school has been found to be the sixth-eighth grade

span (Epstein & Maclver, 1990). This reorganization of the junior high to the middle

school structure has constituted one of the most comprehensive attempts at educational

reform in the history of American public education (George & Oldaker, 1985).

Although in theory the junior high school had been initially designed to better

serve pre-adolescents and early adolescents, "a dominant notion had been to move

secondary education down" (Alexander, 1984, p. 17). With its emphasis on

departmentalization, college preparation and graduation requirements, the junior high

has often been described as a watered-down high school. The middle school, on the

contrary, has been proposed to facilitate and lengthen the transition to high school.

Dedicated solely to the immediate needs of the pubescent students as they pass through

this transitional stage of development, the middle school has been given "a status of its

own, rather than a 'junior' classification" (Johnson, 1962, p. 41).

1









The Middle School Concept

The main tenet espoused by middle school philosophy is the need to develop

positive student affect; this goal may be realized by the cultivation of a learning

environment characterized by a sense of cohesiveness and belonging. Schools based

upon middle school philosophy seek to develop small "communities for learning, even

in large schools. The goals for large and small schools alike is to create responsive

environments that provide students with care and support, as well as challenging

programs that will increase their learning" (Epstein, 1990, p. 439).

A climate of belonging and caring can be augmented by advisor-advisee groups,

homeroom periods, or other similar programs (James, 1986), whose primary function

is the provision of affective education. Within these programs, each student has

access to an adult who provides the student with encouragement and counsel. The

advisory program has been found to be extremely beneficial to the students' general

well-being (Burkhardt & Fusco, 1986).

Interdisciplinary teaming, another organizational structure that is unique to the

middle school, has also been developed to encourage a sense of belonging in the

students. A team is an instructional unit of four or five teachers from different

disciplines who share the same students. Teachers of the same team work together to

plan activities that best fulfill the needs of the students within their team. In addition,

the teachers attempt to convey, via integrative and thematic planning and instruction,

the interrelatedness of all course material in order to make it more meaningful to the

students. Thus, the team organization can promote a sense of academic cohesiveness

as well as socioemotional cohesiveness.









The premise upon which the middle school concept is built stresses the need to

assist students in understanding themselves as they undergo the tremendous emotional,

intellectual, and physical changes of pubescence. Due to their great feelings of

insecurity and inadequacy, these students need to experience as much success as

possible (George & Lawrence, 1982). In order to accommodate the students' varied

learning styles, innovative and diverse teaching strategies are of paramount importance

during the middle grades. Becker (1990) has concurred: "It is particularly important

that schools serving the middle grades pay careful attention to the what and the how of

instructional practice, because early adolescents are developing long-term attitudes

toward the role of education in their lives" (p. 450).

Because the middle school has been structured specifically to meet the unique

needs of pubescents, its advocates propose that its students will, in general, develop

better attitudes and as a result, their academic achievement will improve. Since its

implementation in the early 1960s, the middle school has been the subject of much

controversy as to whether these results have indeed been evidenced.


The Effectiveness of the Middle School

The findings of studies conducted within the decade following the implementation

of middle school philosophy are mixed as to whether increases in student attitudes and

academic achievement have been realized as a result of the introduction of the middle

school concept. In some of the earliest studies assessing middle school effectiveness

relative to student attitude (Armstrong, 1975; Brown, 1976; Draud, 1977; Rankin,

1969; Schoo, 1973; Sinclair & Zigarmi, 1977-79; Trauschke, 1970), researchers









ascertained that the middle school structure promotes the development of a more

positive student attitude. Race relations, which contribute to the school climate, have

also been found to benefit from the middle school structure and pedagogy (Damico,

Green, & Bell-Nathaniel, 1982). To the contrary, Wood (1973), Sienkiewicz (1973),

and Nash (1974) found no relationship between school organizational pattern and

student attitude.

The findings of early studies examining the relationship between middle school

practices and student academic achievement are also mixed. Mooney (1970) and

Gaskill (1971) found no significant differences favoring the middle school structure.

Their claims were unsubstantiated by several studies (Moran, 1969; Sinclair &

Zigarmi, 1977-79; Smith, 1975) that indicated that students exposed to middle school

practices demonstrate greater academic improvement than students in schools

espousing a different philosophy.

Much of the later research concerning middle school effectiveness has been

characterized by outlier studies. Outlier studies are studies that locate and scrutinize

those examples that are superior in caliber in order to determine the contributors to

their success. The results of these studies (Dorman, 1983; Levine, Levine, &

Eubanks, 1984; Lipsitz, 1984; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979;

Wayson, DeVoss, Kaeser, Lashley, & Pinnell, 1982) support the practices advocated

by middle school proponents. That is, the characteristics of the exemplary schools

that have been pinpointed as factors contributing to school success are those which

form the core of the middle school concept (George, 1983).










Current Second Language Acquisition Theory

Current second language acquisition theory shares with middle school philosophy

its emphasis on positive affect as a prerequisite to achievement. Second language

instruction, particularly at the elementary and middle school levels, has been

considerably influenced by second language acquisition theorist Krashen (1982).

According to Krashen, one's second language acquisition is facilitated or hindered by

what he terms one's "affective filter." The filter is a mental regulator that prevents or

facilitates the complete utilization of input that acquirers of a language receive for

language acquisition. When students are anxious, hostile, or uncomfortable, their

affective filter goes up. Although students may comprehend what is being said to

them in the target language, they may not absorb it well because of the high affective

filter. They will also tend to seek less input.

Conversely, the more students are "off the defensive" (Stevick, 1976), the better

the acquisition. When students feel nonthreatened, the affective filter is lowered. At

this point, the language acquisition device (LAD) can be activated. According to

Krashen, the language acquisition device is a cognitive entity that allows one to have a

readiness for language acquisition. When the LAD begins functioning, the individual

becomes receptive to second language acquisition.

The lowering of the learner's affective filter can be facilitated by the provision of

comprehensible input within the foreign language class (Krashen, 1982).

Comprehensible input is material that is understandable, even if it is a little beyond

the student's current level of comprehension. This schema is denoted by "i + 1," the








6
"i" being the student's current degree of comprehension and the "1" indicating a level

just a little beyond that stage. The rationale behind the provision of material that is

just beyond the learner's level of comprehension is the need to introduce new stimuli

within a familiar setting. In this fashion, the student does not become bored with the

continuous presentation of previously acquired information. Conversely, the student

will not become intimidated by the sole introduction of vocabulary and expressions

that are far beyond his/her current level of comprehension.

In order for input to be comprehensible, the student must be able to glean

meaning from the context in which it is presented. Input can be rendered more

comprehensible by the accompaniment of visual aids, realia, gestures, mime, and any

other paraverbal, contextual material. Cummins (1981) asserted that language

proficiency can be viewed in terms of the degree of contextual support available for

expressing or comprehending through a language. Context-embedded language, or

contextualized language, is supported by many clues. This type of language involves

the ability to utilize the skills associated with face-to-face interaction; such verbal

exchanges tend to be accompanied by stimuli that provide extralinguistic support to

facilitate an effective response. For beginners in a language program, the presentation

of context-embedded material is recommended in order to facilitate comprehension.

Context-reduced language, or decontextualized language, involves the ability "to

provide a coherent, comprehensible, informationally adequate account without signals

from an interlocutor" (Snow, 1987, p. 4). With increased proficiency in a second

language comes an increase in one's ability to function adequately in a

decontextualized fashion.









Middle School Foreign Language Proerams

The implementation of the middle school concept requires that curricular decisions

be made to best serve the pubescent student. Curricular decisions often involve the

type of foreign language instruction that should be offered at the middle school level

(Kennedy & De Lorenzo, 1985; Sherer & Biemel, 1987). As of present, there has

been no consistency in middle school foreign language offerings. "Since relatively

few programs exist in the middle schools, one finds a wide diversity of program types

and instructional patterns" (Ford & Hassel, 1983, p. 3). Middle school foreign

language courses have run the entire gamut from 6-week-long exploratory "wheel"

courses to year-long courses that follow the State of Florida Department of Education

Level I foreign language curriculum.

Florida has been no exception with regards to the variety of foreign language

courses offered within the middle school curriculum. However, a number of Florida

counties (Alachua, Brevard, Collier, Duval, Polk, St. Johns, Volusia, and others)

have expanded their foreign language curriculum to include a year-long Spanish I

course. This course is an elective that is offered to eighth graders. It has been

designed to follow the same curriculum frameworks as those of the year-long high

school Spanish I course. These frameworks are those that have been established by

the Florida Department of Education for Spanish I, Course No. 0708340.


The Learning Environments of Middle School and High School Spanish I Students

The language achievement of students enrolled in Spanish I was the focus of this

investigation. The two Spanish I groups examined in this study, eighth graders within









a middle school environment and high school ninth graders, differed perhaps to the

greatest degree with respect to their school environment. The philosophies and

organizational patterns of middle schools and high schools are different. High schools

tend to be much larger than middle schools. More often than not, they are

departmentalized, "under a structure highly fractionated horizontally by age group and

vertically by program track. The program revolves around subjects taught by

specialists--another element of fragmentation-and the students 'cover' a succession of

topics each day" (Sizer, 1984, p. 679). The high school is organized in such a way as

to maximize the delivery of the material of the academic disciplines (Alexander &

George, 1981). "Secondary schools ... are content-oriented. The subject matter

holds precedence over the persons who enter our classrooms" (Allen, 1987).

This is contrary to the philosophy of the middle school, which maintains that the

primary goal of education is enhancement of student attitude and self-concept.

Instruction must attend, above all else, to the needs of the learner. The academic

achievement of the middle school student is seen as an inevitable consequence once

these needs have been addressed.

An equivalent goal of "lowering one's affective filter" has been professed by

current second language acquisition theory. Learners demonstrate an increase in

language achievement when they feel comfortable in the instructional setting-when

their affective filters have been lowered and the language acquisition device is

activated (Krashen, 1982).










According to both middle school and second language acquisition theories, the

goal of increased positive student affect can be realized by means of contextualized,

affective, interactive, varied, relevant, cooperative, personalized, and experiential

instructional strategies in which the students are active, contributing participants

(Asher, 1977; Becker, 1990; Brazee, 1987; Curtain & Pesola, 1988; Johnson, 1989;

Kohut, 1976; Krashen, 1982; Krashen & Terrell, 1983; Met, n.d.; Rivers, 1987;

Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981). Since both philosophies espouse foremost the

development of a positive learning environment and advocate similar pedagogy in

realizing this end, this researcher sought to determine what influence, if any, the

simultaneous implementation of both philosophies within the middle school would

have on the language achievement of middle school Spanish I students. The middle

schoolers' achievement was compared to that of ninth grade Spanish I students, who

were exposed to a very different academic environment. Unlike the middle school

setting, the high school environment of the ninth graders was characterized by

departmentalization and a more formalized structure in which the emphasis was on the

delivery of the academic disciplines.


Statement of the Problem

This investigation was conducted to determine the effects of school affiliation on

student language achievement. Language achievement was assessed via measurement

of the four language skills: listening comprehension, writing, reading comprehension,

and oral. These skills were measured by the administration of a Spanish I Exam at










the beginning of the 1992-93 school year as a pretest and again at the end of the

school year as a posttest.

The administration of the pretest was deemed necessary, as some of the students

were Hispanic and demonstrated advanced speaking skills in Spanish. In addition,

some of the middle schools offered Spanish as a wheel course in sixth and/or seventh

grade. Enrollment in this wheel course in earlier grades could have influenced

performance on the Spanish I Exam. Exam results could also have been influenced by

the previous enrollment of a ninth grader in a Spanish I class. One percent of the

ninth graders had, either at the middle school level or at the high school level, been

enrolled in Spanish I the previous year. Thus, the pretest was administered in order

to account for any differences in student language achievement prior to the beginning

of instruction in the Spanish I course. Furthermore, the inclusion of the pretest scores

as one of the independent variables increased the power of the statistical analysis.

Student attitude toward the foreign language learning experience was also

measured, as it has been hypothesized that one's affective filter influences the amount

of input that is comprehended and ultimately, one's level of language attainment

(Krashen, 1982). According to this premise, learners who have a better attitude about

their experiences in their foreign language class tend to possess a lower affective

filter. In turn, their capability for language acquisition is enhanced.

A number of studies have evidenced that student's attitudes are positively related

to second language achievement (Feenstra, 1967; Gardner, 1959, 1978; Gardner &

Lambert, 1959; Lambert, 1961). In an investigation conducted from 1959-1961,








11
Lambert assessed the language achievement of English-speaking Montreal high school

students studying French. The findings indicated a relationship between language

achievement and learner interest in studying French and learner attitude toward

French-Canadians. Lambert (1961, cited in Hancock, 1972), affirmed that:

the learner's ethnocentric tendencies and his attitudes toward the other
group are believed to determine his success in learning a new language.
His motivation to learn is thought to be determined by his attitudes and
by his orientation toward learning a second language. (p. 144)

Other researchers have echoed the sentiments of Lambert (Gardner, 1978;

Mueller, 1971). Mueller, who assessed student attitudes in a basic French course at

the University of Kentucky, concluded that language achievement is influenced by

attitude toward the target language, toward the manner of course instruction, and

toward the people whose language is being taught. Gardner studied students in upper

elementary grades and high school in the interest of determining what factors

contributed to language achievement. His study yielded positive correlations between

aptitudes, attitudes, and achievement in French.

As a relationship between student attitude and language achievement is indicated

by the findings of the above studies, an attitude instrument, the Foreign Language

Attitude Questionnaire, was administered at the end of the Spanish I course to assess

the attitudes of both groups of students. Since it consisted of questions about

experiences in the Spanish class and practices of the Spanish instructor, this instrument

was not administered at the beginning of the course. The questionnaire items would

have been unanswerable at the beginning of the school year.









Measures obtained from the Spanish I Exam and the Foreign Language Attitude

Questionnaire were utilized to address the following research questions:

1. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and listening comprehension?

2. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and writing skill?

3. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and reading comprehension?

4. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and oral skill?

5. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and attitude toward the

foreign language learning experience?


Significance of the Study

As stated earlier, the number of middle schools has continued to grow. In

addition, an increasing number of middle schools have been opting to implement a

year-long Spanish course that adheres to the Florida Department of Education

Curriculum Frameworks for Spanish I, Course No. 0708340. This course is identical

to that offered at the high school level. With the growing number of middle schools

and "with increasing emphasis on longer sequences of foreign-language study ...

adequate articulation of foreign-language courses is one of the first desiderata of

modern curricular reform" (Walsh, 1963, p. 62). More recently, Curtain and Pesola

(1988) have indicated the need for the full participation of foreign language teachers at

all levels in the building of a successful, sequential, well-articulated program.

Successful articulation is necessary in order to encourage and augment the continuous

development of linguistic skills (Fearing & Grittner, 1974; Phillips, 1989).










Articulation, or the smooth, planned, sequential progression from one level of a

foreign language course to another, has received very little attention as an area of

research in foreign language instruction (Ford & Hassel, 1983; Lange, 1988).

Successful articulation would allow a student to achieve the objectives specified within

the curriculum frameworks and to progress smoothly to the next level of instruction

with little difficulty or redundancy.

Middle school students enrolled in Spanish I, if the middle school and high school

Spanish I courses indeed adhere to the same curriculum frameworks, should manifest

language competency comparable to that of Spanish I high school students. Ideally,

the middle school student, upon entering high school, should be able to enter

Spanish I and should be adequately prepared in order to perform well.

Since the middle school Spanish I course was a relatively new course offering at

the time of this study, there was a lack of research concerning the degree of language

competency attained by middle school Spanish I students. The need for such studies

was reflected in comments by leading foreign language advocates whose assistance

was elicited in the search for an appropriate assessment instrument for this study. G.

Valdes (personal communication, September 24, 1991), State of Florida Department

of Education Foreign Language Program Specialist, conveyed an interest in the study.

He stated, "Although there is only one year of age difference in the two groups,

perhaps the school setting may have something to do in terms of achievement."

M. Met (personal communication, November 7, 1991), Foreign Language

Coordinator of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland and author of









numerous articles and books about foreign language instruction, also indicated an

interest in the results of the present investigation. In her letter she expressed the view

that the study would "certainly benefit many. Teachers often debate whether students

in the two settings learn equivalent amounts of foreign language."

Curtain (personal communication, November 20, 1991), Foreign Language

Curriculum Specialist of the Milwaukee Public Schools and author of a variety of

foreign language books and articles, upon receiving a description of the present study,

responded by stating:

I think the subject of your dissertation is a worthy one and very much
needed. Too many school districts equate two years of middle school
foreign language instruction on an alternating day sequence [or one
year of middle school foreign language instruction on a daily basis]
with one year of high school instruction. This ignores the fact that
middle school students are developmentally at a different stage than
high school students and need a more activity-oriented approach.
I would very much appreciate hearing about the results of your
study. I think that it can have valuable implications for the
improvement of foreign language programming throughout the country.

The findings of this study were also of interest to a number of Florida high school

foreign language teachers. They expressed concern regarding whether middle school

students indeed achieve at a level comparable to high school students in Spanish I.

Many of these teachers maintained that middle school philosophy promotes a sense of

playfulness and lack of seriousness on the part of the student, particularly when

enrolled in exploratory classes. Middle school personnel have been accused of

"babying the students too much" (George and Oldaker, 1985).

This sentiment may have stemmed from a misperception of the middle school

tenet that middle schoolers need opportunities for extensive exploration in order to








15
determine where their interests lie. The primary purpose of exploratory courses is to

pique student interest to encourage future in-depth study. Middle school proponents

have stressed that such courses "must allow for exploration without excessive fear of

failure" (George & Lawrence, 1982, p. 153). Because the middle school Spanish I

course has been considered to be exploratory and "non-academic" in nature, high

school foreign language teachers have frequently questioned whether middle school

Spanish I students are able to achieve at a level comparable to that of high school

students who are in a more formalized, structured environment.

Middle school foreign language teachers, also cognizant of the differences between

middle school and high school philosophies, have expressed the desire to assess their

students' achievement in comparison to that of high school Spanish I students. They

have sought to develop successful articulation with the high school foreign language

program. All of the middle school teachers in this study stated that they follow the

same State of Florida curriculum frameworks as do the high school teachers.

However, the researcher determined through observation and discussion with teachers

and curriculum personnel that the pedagogy employed by middle school teachers tends

to differ from that utilized at the high school level. In general, middle school foreign

language teachers, in accordance with middle school philosophy as well as current

second language acquisition theory, appear to utilize a more personalized,

communicative, and affective approach (with much interaction, physical activity,

games, and integrated curriculum) than that employed by high school foreign language

teachers.









In addition to foreign language teachers, principals and district-level foreign

language specialists demonstrated an interest in the results of this study. They

indicated the desire to utilize the study's findings to assess the status of their districts'

middle school Spanish I programs. As Florida continues to suffer massive budget cuts

in education, steps have been taken at the individual school level to decrease

expenditures via the reduction of curriculum offerings. At several middle schools, the

Spanish I course has been targeted for possible future elimination. It was hoped that

the results of the present study would provide some insight as to whether the middle

school course was effectively articulated with the high school Spanish program and

thus positively contributed to continuous language study. Successful articulation

would allow the student, upon entrance into high school, to enroll directly and

perform satisfactorily in Spanish I and ultimately to continue his/her language study

at more advanced levels, if so desired by the student or dictated by graduation

requirements.

In an effort to address some of the above concerns, the School Board of Collier

County in Florida has annually compared, since 1986, the language achievement of its

middle school eighth graders and high school students enrolled in Spanish I courses.

Each year, students have been administered the Spanish I Exam as a final exam and

the scores of both groups have been compared. A composite exam score, which has

been derived by summing the scores attained for each of the listening comprehension,

writing, reading comprehension, and oral sections, has been the score of comparison.

Upon comparing the students' composite exam scores, Collier County has reported

that the middle school students consistently outperform the high school students.









Due to the need for a more systematic evaluation of the degree to which school

affiliation influences language achievement, the present study was conducted.

However, rather than comparing a composite exam score, this researcher compared

the students' scores in each of the four language skills: listening comprehension,

writing, reading comprehension, and oral. Such a procedure would yield more

informative data, as the two groups of students might have exhibited significant

differential achievement in some skills, but not in others.


Hypotheses

Based upon the similarity of the tenets maintained by middle school and second

language acquisition philosophies, it was hypothesized that school affiliation would

influence achievement in all four language skills. Because of the presence within the

middle school setting of both philosophies, both of which stress the development of

positive student affect above all else, it was hypothesized that middle school language

achievement would exceed that of the high school. It was furthermore hypothesized

that school affiliation would also influence attitude toward the foreign language

learning experience: The attitude of the middle school students would be more

positive than that of the high school students.

To examine these hypotheses, a comparative correlational design employing a

multiple linear regression model was developed. To allow for comparison of the data

for statistical significance, the subsequent null hypotheses were submitted:

1. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest

listening comprehension.










2. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest

writing skill.

3. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest

reading comprehension.

4. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest oral

skill.

5. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and attitude

toward the foreign language learning experience.


Definition of Terms

Concrete/contextualized referent refers to "anything that can be seen, heard, felt,

smelled, or touched by the learner that clarifies the meaning of what is said to the

learner" (Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982, p. 276).

Middle schools in this study are defined as schools composed of sixth grade

through eighth grade. Their organizational pattern has been developed specifically to

attend to the cognitive, physical, and socioemotional needs of the transescent.

Rubric refers to descriptive guidelines utilized in holistic assessment. A rubric

typically consists of several paragraphs describing criteria against which a student

performance is to be evaluated.

Second language refers to a language that is learned or acquired after the native

language has been acquired. It can also refer to any additional language that is

acquired by the learner. The term is employed in this manner in this study. In this










context, the terms "second language" and "foreign language" will be used

interchangeably.

Target language denotes the language that is being taught within the foreign

language class.

Wheel courses are exploratory courses that are short-term in nature (less than a

semester in duration). Upon completion of one wheel course, students move into

another wheel course in the exploratory wheel program.


Delimitations

This study was delimited by the boundaries of Brevard County, Duval County, St.

Johns County, and Volusia County, the four Florida school districts that participated

in the present investigation. High school and middle school Spanish teachers had been

sent descriptions of the study and a request for their involvement. Most of the

teachers selected for the study had expressed an interest to be involved in the study.

All of the teachers taught at least one class of Spanish I and were employed at either a

middle school or high school.

The students were eighth graders at the middle school level and ninth graders at

the high school level who were enrolled in Spanish I. The students came from all

socioeconomic levels and diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.


Limitations

Due to the researcher's inability to find an exam in another foreign language that

was comparable to the Spanish I Exam in terms of structure, administration, and








20
objectives to be tested, assessment of achievement in other languages was not possible.

Since Spanish currently has greater practicality in Florida, there may have existed

greater motivation to acquire it than to acquire other languages. As such, caution

must be exercised in attempting to generalize the results of this study to achievement

in other languages.

In addition to achievement in the four language skills, acquisition of cultural

information is specified by the Florida Department of Education Curriculum

Frameworks as a student performance standard for Spanish I. However, knowledge

of cultural material was not assessed by the Spanish I Exam, as this study focused

primarily on student achievement in the four language areas. Hence, inferences

concerning acquisition of cultural knowledge cannot be made based upon the findings

of this investigation.

Finally, the study did not control for differences in self-selection between middle

schoolers and high schoolers relative to enrollment in Spanish I classes. Enrollment in

middle school Spanish I classes tends to be elective; a few students are placed in

Spanish I due to overcrowding in other courses, but most of the students who are in

the course have chosen to take it.

The majority of high school students, however, are not given that option. The

graduation requirements of most high school students dictate two consecutive years of

enrollment in a foreign language. Although the students can choose which foreign

language they wish to study, their enrollment in a language course is a requirement.










The difference between the two groups of students with respect to choice of

enrollment in the Spanish I course could have influenced student language achievement

and/or attitude toward the foreign language experience. However, because self-

selection was not included in the analysis, any differences between the two groups did

not reflect its influence in this study.


Summary

The reorganization of junior high schools into middle schools during the last

quarter of a century has constituted one of the most significant and all-encompassing

reformations in the history of American public education (George & Oldaker, 1985).

The middle school philosophy has developed out of the belief that the junior high

structure has been ineffective in attending to the unique cognitive, biological, and

psychosocial needs of its pubescent population.

In accordance with middle school philosophy, the middle school is characterized

by numerous programs and structures designed solely to foster a positive school

climate--one in which a sense of belonging and caring are in evidence. Improvements

in the school environment have been sought via the implementation of such strategies

as interdisciplinary teaming, advisory groups, integrative and thematic planning and

instruction, experiential activities, and exploration.

Since its inception, the middle school has been the subject of much controversy as

to its effectiveness in attending to the needs of the pubescent student. Early studies

comparing the attitudes and academic achievement of junior high students and middle

school students yielded mixed results. Later studies also produced conflicting results;









however, the bulk of the findings tend to favor the middle school structure and

pedagogy over the traditional structure and practices of the junior high setting.

In outlier studies, middle schools exhibiting positive student attitudes and high

academic achievement were scrutinized in order to ascertain the factors that

contributed to their success. It was found that these schools were characterized by

advisory groups, interdisciplinary teaming, and thematic and integrative pedagogy,

attributes that form the core of middle school philosophy.

Implementation of middle school philosophy has dictated that curricular changes

be made to address the needs of the pubescent student. Middle school foreign

language programs have been increasingly affected by these curricular changes.

Although a great variety of foreign language programs currently exist at the middle

school level, an increasing number of schools have been attempting to implement a

Spanish I course. Like the high school Spanish I course, this course adheres to the

Florida Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks for Spanish I, Course No.

0708340.

Second language acquisition theory has currently been having a considerable effect

on pedagogical practices in elementary and middle school foreign language programs.

Second language acquisition theorist Krashen (1982) has asserted that one's language

acquisition is largely influenced by two factors--the degree of comprehensible input to

which the student is exposed and the degree of comfort/discomfort experienced during

this exposure. The latter variable has been addressed in Krashen's affective filter

hypothesis, in which it has been proposed that language acquisition is greatly

influenced by "the strength of the affective filter, or the degree to which the acquirer








is 'open' to the input" (p. 9). Feelings of discomfort, whether they be physical or

psychological, can trigger a rising of the affective filter, making the student less

receptive to second language acquisition. Conversely, positive feelings can enhance

language acquisition, as they can lower the affective filter.

Middle school philosophy and current theory concerning second language

acquisition posit similar perspectives with regard to the considerable influence of

affect on student achievement. Since both philosophies profess similar tenets and base

their entire pedagogy upon the affect-achievement relationship, the researcher was

interested in ascertaining what influence, if any, the simultaneous implementation of

both philosophies within the middle school would have on the language achievement

of middle school Spanish I students. The researcher examined the effect of school

affiliation on student language proficiency and on attitude toward the foreign language

learning experience. Since the Spanish I course is a relatively new curriculum

offering at the middle school level, there has been a dearth of research in this area.

This study was conducted in an attempt to provide empirical data in order to address

the above concern.


Organization of the Dissertation

A review of the literature pertinent to the study is presented in Chapter 2.

Chapter 3 is a discussion of the methodology, experimental design, and analysis

procedures of the study. The findings of the investigation and statistical analyses are

delineated in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 consists of a discussion of the results, implications

of the findings, and recommendations for further research.













CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE


The literature review is divided into three sections. The first section is a

presentation of research and literature pertinent to the middle school concept and the

effectiveness of the implementation of the middle school philosophy within middle

schools. The subsequent section discusses current second language acquisition theory

and methodological practices that are founded upon such theory. The final segment of

this chapter explains the manner in which current middle school pedagogy and second

language acquisition methodology may work together to influence language

achievement in a middle school foreign language class. In general, the literature

review is organized to address the following questions:

1. What constitutes the middle school concept?

2. What administrative, structural, and methodological practices would be

indicative of the implementation of the middle school concept within a middle

school?

3. How effective has the implementation of the middle school concept been?

4. What views are professed by current second language acquisition theory?

5. What pedagogical practices within foreign language classes are founded upon

current second language theory?










6. What is the relationship between middle school practices and

practices based upon prevailing second language theory?

7. How is middle schoolers' language achievement influenced by the relationship

between middle school methodology and practices founded upon current

second language theory?


The Middle School Concept

A glance down a middle school hall during a change of classes will provide an

observer with all of the necessary evidence of the vast variety of shapes, sizes, and

maturity levels that characterize this age group. Middle school students range in

development from elementary-sized children to youth that are quite mature in

appearance. Their behavior runs the gamut from hitting, running, and shoving, to

maturely and purposefully ambling down the hall toward their destination.

These students are in a developmental stage termed "transescence" by Eichorn

(1966). Transescence refers to the "stage of development that begins prior to the

onset of puberty and extends through early adolescence" (George & Lawrence, 1982,

p. 2). This period is characterized by its extreme social, biological, and cognitive

changes.

Socially, transescents are greatly influenced by peer pressure and tend to form

cliques to release emotional pressures (George & Lawrence, 1982). They seek

independence, particularly from authority figures. In their search for independence

and their own niche, there is a need for much exploration, experimentation, and

variation in their experiences.










Physically, there is much variation among the students. There are voice changes,

a maturation of the sex glands, rapid, but often uneven physical growth, periods of

high energy succeeded by exhaustion, and frequent lack of coordination due to the

students' unfamiliarity with their changing bodies.

There are also accompanying, though not necessarily simultaneous, intellectual

changes in the transescent. During these years, the individual usually progresses from

Piaget's concrete stage of development of the elementary years to the formal (or

abstract) stage of thought (Lefrancois, 1984). The student thus becomes more capable

of experimentation with diverse ideas. The formation of concepts is now possible.

The student also progresses from very egocentric thought to a more sociocentric

perspective. Thus, since the students are at varied stages of intellectual development,

instructional methods must be extremely diverse to meet the needs and capabilities of

all of the students.

In the late 1950s, the concept of the middle school developed out of the need to

better serve this unique population of students. The actual implementation of practices

based upon the middle school concept commenced in 1963 (Kindred, Wolotkiewicz,

Mickelson, & Coplein, 1981). The junior high school had been found to be

unsatisfactory to fulfill the needs of the transescents (Alexander, 1984; Calhoun,

1983; Johnson, 1962; Lounsbury & Vars, 1978). It was determined that the junior

high school replicated, to a large degree, the programs and practices of the senior high

school. "It tended to assume a senior high school posture in teaching procedures and

curriculum" (Lounsbury & Vars, 1978, p. 20). Calhoun (1983) concurred that the








27
junior high school had traditionally been organized in a manner similar to that of the

senior high school, which stresses a subject-oriented approach to instruction. This

emphasis differs from the student-centered instruction of the middle school.

The goal of the middle school is ultimately to facilitate the transescent's transition

from elementary to high school. The middle school is viewed as performing a critical

role in one's education, as it is generally during this period that a student decides to

continue or discontinue his/her education (Becker, 1990). Because the profound

social, physical, and intellectual changes that are occurring within these middle years

so greatly influence the student's self-concept and ultimately one's academic

achievement (Lerner, 1986), the middle school curriculum must focus on all of these

developmental areas in order to create a successful learning environment. Lounsbury

and Vars (1978) delineated the following curricular guidelines:

1. Every student should have access to at least one adult who knows and
cares for him personally, and who is responsible for helping him to
deal with the problems of growing up.
2. Every student should have the opportunity to deal directly with the
problems, both personal and social that surround him.
3. Every student should have the opportunity to progress at his own rate
through a continuous, nongraded sequence of learning experiences in
those areas of the curriculum that have a genuine sequential organization.
4. Every student should have access to a rich variety of exploratory
experiences, both required and elective. (pp. 41-42)

Stronge and Jones (1991) also stressed a number of characteristics of the middle

school concept that focus on attending to the various needs of the transescent. They

listed the need for a secure instructional environment that is conducive to learning, an

emphasis on educating the whole child, and the provision of opportunities for student

success. Kohut (1988) asserted that programs should be designed to create an










environment of approval and counsel to facilitate student self-understanding. The

curriculum should assist the student in tackling his/her major developmental task of

adolescence--the development of a sense of identity (Hillman, 1991).

McDonough (1991) further elaborated upon the need to address within the middle

school curriculum the student's self-identification and the integration of his or her

experiences with the environment. She stressed that the curriculum should seek to

assist one in understanding one's function in society, deriving meaning from one's

own experiences and those of others, more fully understanding one's relationships

with others, and striving "for self-actualization within a personal and global context"

(pp. 32-33).

There are a number of practices that are advocated to provide an instructional

climate by which the above goals may be realized. The practices that are actually

implemented by specific middle schools vary depending upon the beliefs, actual

facilities, financial resources, and practicality within the school community.

However, a task force commissioned by the National Middle School Association

(1982) determined that the following characteristics are indicative of a "true" middle

school:

1. Educators knowledgeable about and committed to transescents

2. A balanced curriculum based on transescent needs

3. A range of organizational arrangements

4. Varied pedagogical techniques

5. A comprehensive exploratory program










6. Extensive advising and counseling

7. Continuous progress for students

8. Evaluation procedures compatible with early adolescent needs

9. Cooperative planning

10. Positive school environment.

Several of the above characteristics are discussed in greater detail in the ensuing

section of this literature review. The selection of the practices to be discussed was

made based upon their implementation within all of the middle schools in this study.


Middle School Practices


Educators Knowledgeable About and Committed to Transescents

Middle school faculties vary in their educational background and certification to a

greater degree than faculties at any other level of education (Epstein & MacIver,

1990). Some educators possess secondary certification, which generally comprises

grades 7-12 or the equivalent. Other teachers are certified in elementary education.

Still others possess K-12 certification.

The middle school faculty must be composed of instructors familiar with the

special needs and characteristics of this intermediate age group. Although middle

school methods courses within teacher education programs have been sparse,

universities are increasingly adding middle school certification courses to their

curriculum offerings. In addition, a number of teachers are being given the

opportunity to add middle school certification to their educator's licenses through










college courses or workshops that are designed to increase teacher competencies in

working with young adolescents. As of 1988, 22 states had special certification or

endorsements for instructors teaching at the middle school level (Children's Defense

Fund).


Varied Pedagogical Techniques

Since this age group is functioning at a variety of intellectual capacities, the

middle school teacher must employ numerous teaching strategies in order to provide

opportunities for success for the majority of the students. The curriculum requires

personalized, hands-on, experiential and interactive exercises, formal instruction,

thematic instruction, and countless other modes of instruction (Becker, 1990; Brazee,

1987; Johnson, 1989; Kohut, 1976). In addition, the middle school curriculum is

based upon the developmental capabilities of each child. Individualized, self-paced

activities allow for individual student mastery without the traditional competition with

peers. Unipacs, "individualized learning packages for student self-directed study

requiring the use of a multi-media resource center or laboratory" (Kohut, 1976,

p. 8) can be of much value in individualized, self-paced instruction.

Cooperative learning, the arrangement of classrooms to allow students to work

with each other in small, interdependent groups (Kagan, 1985), has also been

increasing in popularity as a instructional technique in middle schools. Jones (1990)

has asserted that cooperative learning is a developmentally appropriate and effective

pedagogical practice for middle grade students. Research has found pairwork to offer

the best balance of on-task behavior, highest percent of student time spent in








31
communicative use of a second language, and the best ratio of teacher talk to student

talk (Bejarano, 1987; Cohen, 1986; Cummins, 1981; Kagan, 1985; McGroarty, 1989;

Nerenz & Knop, 1982; Swain, 1985).

Parker (1985) and Tyrrell (1990) have also found that when students participate in

cooperative learning, their acquisition of course material improves, their problem-

solving skills are augmented, their socialization skills are enhanced, and they exhibit a

more favorable attitude toward school. Cooperative learning has gained additional

support from Nederhood (1986), who assessed the effects of teachers' use of

cooperative learning on the achievement and attitudinal outcomes of seventh graders.

Measures of achievement and attitude indicated a significant, positive correlation

between an instructor's use of cooperative learning techniques and student classroom

participation, scholastic expectations, number of friends, and self-esteem.

Groupwork provides for an increased amount of active learning on the part of the

students, better management of academic heterogeneity, preparation for students to

cooperate and learn the internalization of norms, and an improvement in interracial

relationships (Kagan, 1985; Slavin, 1990). Students also learn to assume new roles

within the group-secretary, monitor, time keeper, and the like. Because of the non-

traditional nature of this type of instruction, a modification in expectations for student

competence is in order. Competence is viewed instead as improvement in

performance over time. Moreover, the traditional authoritarian role of the teacher is

to be relinquished in favor of the role of facilitator of learning.










Cooperative learning requires that there exists positive social interdependence

between the students (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). The learners depend upon one

another in order to accomplish the specified task. The interdependence is one of equal

status in which each student feels nonthreatened and valued. The students are

provided with the opportunity to engage in face-to-face interaction in which they may

discuss the topic of interest without distraction. Each individual is held accountable to

the group as a group member.

At the termination of each cooperative learning activity, the students are afforded

the opportunity to analyze the dynamics of the group (Kagan, 1985). Johnson and

Johnson (1991) have stressed that effective group processing focuses both on the

members' contributions to each other's learning and to the maintenance of effective

working relationships among group members. During this group processing, the

students must be allowed to voice their opinions regarding the dynamics of the group

and to advance any suggestions for modifications that may enhance group efficacy in

the future.


A Comprehensive Exploratory Program

An exploratory program is one of the essential elements of a "true" middle school

(Brazee, 1987; Davis, 1987; Lounsbury, 1991; Schneider, 1986; Steffans, 1991). In

fact, Lounsbury (1991) went so far as to emphatically state: "The concept of

exploration is ... central to and universal in the mission of the middle level school"

(p. 61). According to Steffans (1991), the exploratory curriculum is invaluable during

the middle years as it addresses three primary characteristics of the middle school








33

philosophy: (a) it serves to fulfill the cognitive, physical, and socioemotional needs of

the adolescent, (b) it provides numerous opportunities for experimentation and

creativity, and (c) it facilitates the development of a positive self-concept. She

elaborated: "Developing a student's self concept is a key mission of the middle

school philosophy, and the exploratory program allows the emerging adolescent the

opportunity to develop a positive image of himself/herself" (p. 30).

The exploratory program, because of heterogeneous grouping practices, provides

the opportunity for students of varied abilities to work together and learn from one

other. The numerous hands-on, personalized, and interactive activities that tend to

characterize exploratory courses permit the sharing of skills in a social environment.

Such exercises can greatly augment the students' cooperative and collaborative

learning strategies (Jones, 1990; Kagan, 1985).

The exploratory curriculum is generally composed of a number of special interest

courses that can range in duration from a few weeks to a year. Typical exploratory

courses are art, industrial arts, home economics, business, music, band, and foreign

languages.

According to the middle school philosophy, exploratory options need to be

numerous and of relatively short duration in order to allow the students to experience

many different areas of interest as well as to accommodate their rapidly changing

interests (Alexander & George, 1981). Theoretically, the exploratory courses should

consist of practical, hands-on experiences (Davis, 1987). Such activities present the

students with a more accurate portrayal of the types of skills and situations to be

encountered in different fields of interest at the secondary level.









The exploratory curriculum, as well as the entire middle school curriculum,

requires personalization of instructional content in order to demonstrate its relevance

to the student (McDonough, 1991). The middle schoolers' awareness of a topic's

significance to their own lives will facilitate the acquisition, understanding, and

retention of that particular issue (Johnson, 1989).

Middle school advocates (Brazee, 1987; Compton, 1984; Melton, 1984;

Schneider, 1986) have stressed that exploration must be an important component of

nonexploratory courses (such as the typical "academic" courses-math, science,

English, and social studies) as well. Such exploration can be attained through a

diversity of teaching strategies--cooperative learning, interdisciplinary thematic units,

problem-solving activities, and hands-on activities. Students provided with these

opportunities will see more interrelated aspects of the different curricular areas than

those who have little opportunity for exploration (Schneider, 1986).


Extensive Advising and Counseling

Middle school administrators often wrestle with the dilemma of how to create the

right balance of courses that provide intellectual stimulation and those that provide

emotional and social support (Epstein & Maclver, 1990). Moving from a one-teacher

elementary school experience to a middle school in which one has six or more

teachers daily, the middle school student can feel overwhelmed and isolated. If

students experience a sense of alienation, they are more apt to experience adjustment

problems (Lipsitz, 1984). These problems can manifest themselves in poor academic

performance and/or withdrawal from school functions (Epstein & Maclver, 1990).










It has been found that the early adolescent is increasingly becoming at risk

(Lipsitz, 1984; Presseisen, 1983). Seventh graders are increasingly becoming victims

of school violence. The abuse of drugs and juvenile crime escalate during this

developmental period. In addition, the rate of initial admission into mental hospitals

is increasing more dramatically for this age group than for any other age group

(Lipsitz, 1984). Such statistics underscore the need to address the socioemotional

needs of these transescents.

Middle schools are seeking to create a more caring atmosphere by developing

responsive support systems. As of 1990, about 66% of all schools that include

seventh grade had instituted a homeroom or group advisory program (Epstein &

MacIver, 1990). Termed homeroom, advisor-advisee, or homebase, these programs

facilitate the reduction of the alienation and anonymity felt by many students,

especially in larger schools (Cawelti, 1988).

In theory, the membership of an advisory group is small, averaging 20-24

students. The group's performance is facilitated by a teacher or some other adult with

whom the students feel comfortable. The ambience is informal, intimate, and

accepting. The group usually convenes daily to address concerns of relevance to the

students. The topics are addressed by means of discussions, dramatizations,

simulations, debates, and games. These activities serve to encourage a sense of group

cohesiveness as well as the development of individuality in each member (George,

1984). Such advisory group exercises led by a caring adult have been found to have a

significant effect on other facets of the school climate and on student academic








36
achievement (Epstein and Maclver, 1990). "When children have adults around them

who are responsive to their problems and with whom they can share success, the

environment of the school is much more inviting to success" (Burkhardt & Fusco,

1986, p. 27).


Cooperative Planning

Cooperative planning typically necessitates the formation of interdisciplinary teams

to facilitate the planning of lessons. An interdisciplinary team most commonly refers

to the grouping of academic teachers (one teacher each from the disciplines of

language arts, math, science, and social studies) in a common area with the same

students and planning period. One of the functions of this arrangement is the

encouragement of integrative and thematic planning and instruction. Integrative

planning and instruction serve to demonstrate the interrelatedness of all course

material in order to increase its meaningfulness to the students (Curtain & Pesola,

1988).

The interdisciplinary team, considered by many (Alexander & George, 1981;

Epstein & Maclver, 1990; George, 1984; Lounsbury, 1991; McEwin & Clay, 1983)

to be the key organizational component of the middle school, also functions to

encourage a sense of belonging in the students. The goal of the team concept is to

create small community units with which the students can identify (Carnegie Council

on Adolescent Development, 1990; Epstein, 1990; Epstein & Maclver, 1990; Lipsitz,

1984). The team structure allows the students and teachers to develop close








37
relationships with each other and among themselves. The team or house, according to

Lipsitz (1984):

minimizes size, personalizes the environment, increases communication
among students and teachers, and reduces tension. The schools have all
reduced the influence of subject-oriented departments in order to empower
multidisciplinary teams. They have guaranteed teachers common planning
periods so that every student is known predictably by a team of teachers
who have time to consult with one another about his or her academic
progress and general well-being. (p. 194)

As a result of teaming, students' motivation to learn has been found to increase

and attitudes toward school have been more favorable (Maclver, 1990). Gamsky

(1970), who compared the academic achievement and attitudinal disposition of

students taught via interdisciplinary teaming or traditional instruction, concluded that

student attitude towards instructors, motivation in learning, and sense of independence

are positively influenced by interdisciplinary teaming.

George (1984) affirmed that group membership in which one is an active

participant is one of the primary determinants in the improvement of school

effectiveness and scholastic achievement. He continued: "Institutions function

far more effectively when they are organized so that the individuals within them feel

known and cared about, and when they see themselves as important members of an

important group" (p. 54).

Team teachers, because they share the same students, are afforded increased

opportunities for the recognition and solution of student problems. In addition, their

common planning period provides collaboration time relative to instructional goals,

student progress, and the implementation of ideas. Because they are each drawing on








38
each other's unique expertise, the team teachers' ability to develop strategies to foster

student success is enhanced.

The cooperation and support permitted by the team structure encourages feelings

of camaraderie, not only among the teachers, but among the students as well (Arhar,

1990; Erb, 1987; Maclver, 1990). The students observe their team teachers working

together to determine the best instructional strategy for each member of their team.

By being privy to this cooperative activity on the part of their instructors, the students

can benefit socially as well as academically. Their teachers' behavior serves as a

model of the social and employability skills that ultimately need to be developed in the

transescents.


Positive School Climate

According to middle school philosophy, the development of a positive

psychosocial environment is made possible when teachers and students regard

themselves as members of the same team, striving together to attain common goals.

The establishment of a positive climate is the basic tenet of the middle school concept,

as affirmed by George & Oldaker (1985): "Insofar as the middle school is concerned,

... all of the factors that [lead] to the 'ethos of caring' characteristic of ...

successful schools are part and parcel of today's middle school concept" (p. 8).

Middle school advocates (Alexander & George, 1981; Epstein & Maclver, 1990;

George, 1984; National Middle School Association, 1982) have maintained that the

middle school characteristics described above are all contributors to the development

of a positive school climate. A positive school climate is one which is caring,









accepting, and student-oriented. It is one which attempts to reduce anonymity and

alienation. It has been found that there exists a close relationship between one's

socioemotional needs, as attended to within a positive school climate, and one's

academic achievement (Davis, 1987). Thus, a school climate which addresses one's

socioemotional needs should ultimately facilitate one's scholastic attainment.


Conclusion

There are numerous components that are indicative of the actual implementation of

the middle school concept within a school bearing the label "middle school."

However, all features cannot be found at all middle schools. The degree of

implementation of middle school characteristics varies from institution to institution.

Although there existed some variation in the middle school components in the schools

examined within this study, there were numerous features that were present at all of

the schools. Consequently, these were the attributes that were discussed in detail in

the previous section of this literature review.

The subsequent section describes research that has been conducted to determine

the relative effectiveness of the implementation of the middle school concept.


The Effectiveness of the Middle School Concept

Since its implementation, the middle school concept has been the subject of much

controversy as to whether or not it has truly accomplished that which it theoretically

set out to achieve. The findings of studies conducted shortly after the initial

implementation of the middle school concept are mixed as to whether increases in










student self-concept and academic achievement have been realized as a result of this

new philosophy. However, the results of more recent studies appear to support the

implementation of the middle school concept.


Early Research Findings: Student Attitudes

The bulk of the early research conducted to assess the effectiveness of the middle

school concept has been largely comparative in nature. It has focused on the

comparison of middle-level students in middle schools with those in junior high and/or

elementary schools. Rankin (1969) investigated the changes in attitudes of students in

a school system that, after operating under a junior high school arrangement, had been

converted to a middle school structure in 1967. Analysis of the results of attitudinal

measures yielded evidence that the middle school organizational pattern facilitates the

development of a healthier student attitude.

Trauschke (1970), after assessing the attitudes of students in middle school,

elementary school, and junior high school settings, also concluded that middle school

organization and curriculum enhance student attitudes. Within each grade level of

middle school, the students felt more positive toward themselves, their peers, their

instructors, and their school than did students in the other two school structures. The

findings of Schoo (1973), who evaluated the attitudes of students in 16 middle schools

and 15 junior high schools, also indicated that attitudes toward school are significantly

more favorable within a middle school setting than within the junior high organization.










Wood (1973) and Nash (1974) also conducted studies in an effort to assess

whether differences existed between students' attitudes toward school, peers, school

personnel, and instruction on the basis of school setting--middle school or junior high.

Contrary to Rankin (1969), Trauschke (1970), and Schoo (1973), however, they found

that school setting does not yield significant differences in student attitude.

Sienkiewicz (1973) sought to determine the relationship between implementation

of middle school practices and student scores on a standardized attitudinal scale. A

number of Michigan middle schools were identified as having developed positive

attitudes among their students. Sienkiewicz administered a student attitude

questionnaire and observed the schools to assess the degree of actual implementation

of middle school practices. He found no significant differences in student attitude

between students in schools that had implemented middle school practices and those

that had not.

An investigation by Armstrong (1975) produced results contrary to those of Wood

(1973), Sienkiewicz (1973), and Nash (1974). An assessment of students' perceptions

of their academic environment by the administration of the Elementary School

Environment Survey indicated that students at schools that had implemented the

middle school concept expressed more positive views regarding their school setting.

In addition, they perceived their educational experience as being more humanistic,

resourceful, and autonomous. It was concluded that there exists a strong direct

relationship between the degree to which the "true" middle school practices are

implemented and a positive academic climate, as perceived by the student population.









Armstrong's conclusions were unsupported by Routt (1975), who conducted a

comparative study in which he evaluated the attitudes of sixth graders within a middle

school setting and sixth graders within an elementary school environment. The results

of a student attitudinal questionnaire indicated that no significant differences existed

between the two groups of sixth graders.

The results of a study conducted by Brown (1976) did not corroborate those of

Routt (1975). He measured student progress during the initial three years of the

implementation of the middle school concept in a school in Allegheny County,

Pennsylvania. The implementation was being gradually and systematically conducted.

As each stage was being introduced, its influence was assessed by student interviews

at the end of each school year, teacher and parent surveys, and the administration of

the Student Opinion Survey. Eighty percent of the student population indicated "that

the middle school did provide them with a meaningful learning program and that it

was a place where they felt comfortable in getting acquainted with previously

unknown students" (p. 8). Faculty and staff also demonstrated an improvement in

attitudes as each stage was initiated. Brown surmised that the instructional climate for

both students and school personnel is favorably affected by the introduction of the

middle school concept.

A study by Draud (1977) confirmed the relationship between school organization

and teacher and student attitudes toward school. In a study investigating the effect of

the organizational structure of middle schools and junior high schools on student

attitudes, Draud determined that middle school students' attitudes were significantly









more positive than those of junior high pupils. The attitudinal scores, which were

obtained through the administration of the National Study of School Evaluation

Opinion Inventory, were particularly notable for factors associated with student-

teacher affiliations, student participation in school functions, and student perception of

the school climate.

The results of the preceding study were substantiated by the findings of an inquiry

undertaken by Sinclair and Zigarmi (1977-79). They were interested in assessing

whether attitudes toward school climate and instructors would be influenced by the

changing structural patterns of a mid-Western junior high school. The treatment and

control groups were drawn from the student population within the same building.

When the school opened in 1974, it was structured departmentally. Two years later,

experimentation with interdisciplinary teaming occurred with the creation of one

eighth grade team consisting of four teachers, one from each academic discipline.

This eighth grade team constituted the treatment group and a nonteamed eighth grade

group comprised the control group. It was found that perceptions of school climate of

students who were part of an interdisciplinary team were significantly more favorable

than those of nonteam students, as evidenced by the scores on the Perceptions of

School Environment Scale.


Early Research Findings: Academic Achievement

In addition to assessing the influence of the implementation of middle school

practices upon student attitudes, early research also sought to determine its effect on

student scholastic achievement. Scholastic achievement of sixth grade students was










assessed in a study by Moran in 1969. Half of the students were exposed to middle

school practices while the other half were instructed via traditional junior high

methodology (similar to the departmentalization and subject-oriented curriculum of the

high school). All students were administered a battery of achievement tests. It was

concluded that students exposed to middle school methodology demonstrate greater

improvement in the academic disciplines.

Moran's findings were disclaimed the subsequent year by Mooney (1970), who

utilized the same students as did Trauschke (1970) in a concurrent study. Mooney

compared the achievement of students in middle school (defined as grades five through

eight) with that of fifth and sixth graders in elementary school and seventh and eighth

graders in junior high school (which consisted of grades seven through nine). He

sought to determine whether school organization was correlated with scholastic

performance. Scores on the Stanford Achievement Test indicated that middle

schoolers' scholastic achievement was comparable to that of the other two groups.

Gaskill (1971), who assessed the academic achievement of students in four middle

schools and two traditional junior high schools, also found no significant differences in

favor of the middle school structure.

The findings of Mooney (1970) and Gaskill (1971) were refuted by Smith (1975),

who did find differences in academic achievement between students in a middle school

setting and those in a traditional junior high school setting. Smith evaluated the

academic achievement of students in two junior high schools in Canton, Ohio. One

school had been restructured in order to incorporate the middle school concept with its









interdisciplinary teams, child-centered curriculum, and advisory groups. The other

school was departmentalized, subject-oriented, and nonthematic in instructional

strategy. It was found that students in the restructured school attained significantly

higher scores in reading and science on the SRA Achievement Series than students in

the departmentalized school.


Later Studies: Comparative Studies

The effect of school structure on interracial relationships and attitudes among

students was investigated in a study conducted by Damico et al. (1982). They

observed student interaction and assessed student attitudes in six different middle

schools within one school district. All schools were comparable with the exception of

their structures. Two of the schools consisted of interdisciplinary teams and advisory

groups. The four other schools were departmentalized and offered no advisory

programs. It was found by means of attitudinal questionnaires and observations that,

in the schools with interdisciplinary teaming, interracial relationships were

significantly greater in number. Moreover, students in team-organized schools

exhibited a more favorable attitude toward school than students in nonteamed schools.

Arhar (1990) also examined the relationship between interdisciplinary teaming and

student interrelationships. She evaluated by means of the Social Bonding Scale from

the Wisconsin Youth Survey the social bonding of seventh graders in teamed and

nonteamed middle schools. She concluded that the students' bonding to their peers,

their teachers, and their school were all significantly positively affected by teaming.









Support for the middle school structure was also indicated by Scott (1988), who

conducted a 6-year longitudinal study of a middle school to determine the effect of

middle school configuration on student achievement. The school had operated under a

junior high school format for three years, after which conversion to the middle school

structure had been implemented. An analysis of scores from the Comprehensive Test

of Basic Skills substantiated the hypothesis that student academic achievement would

be significantly higher in a middle school setting.

However, Scott's findings were unsubstantiated by Doran (1989), who also

studied a former junior high school that had undergone middle school conversion.

Two attitudinal questionnaires were completed by the student population. Academic

achievement was determined via analysis of standardized achievement and aptitude test

scores. A significant increase in academic performance was not found. However, an

analysis of the questionnaire responses did indicate a significant improvement in the

students' perceptions of the school climate subsequent to the implementation of middle

school practices.


Later Research Studies: Outlier Studies

The comparative studies of early middle school research have given way to outlier

studies, which constitute a large segment of later research. These studies have

focused on pinpointing the most successful middle schools and then determining the

factors contributing to their success.

A study by Rutter and his associates was one such outlier study. In 1979, Rutter

et al. conducted a 4-year investigation of 12 junior high schools in inner-city London.









Some of the schools were found to be highly successful, while others were not.

Rutter was interested in identifying the variables that contributed to the schools'

differential success rate. Success was denoted by measures of attendance rates, school

decorum, behavior outside of school, parental satisfaction, academic achievement

scores on standardized tests, and school reputation of excellence.

The two primary factors affecting the success or failure rate of the school

appeared to be the emphasis on scholastic achievement and the psychosocial climate of

the school. Rutter concluded that the greatest difference between the schools was each

school's effectiveness in addressing the social issues involved in learning. What is

significant about this study is that, although the study occurred within junior high

schools, those schools that yielded high success rates were those that were student-

oriented. Their primary concern was the provision of an "ethos of caring" (George &

Oldaker, 1985), which was demonstrated via interdisciplinary teaming, advisory

programs, and other such structures to attend to the psychosocial needs of the student

population. Although found within junior high schools, such characteristics form the

foundation of the middle school concept (George, 1983).

In an outlier study conducted by the Phi Delta Kappa Commission on Discipline

(Wayson et al., 1982), over 500 schools that had been identified as exhibiting

exemplary student behavior were located. Through questionnaire responses it was

ascertained that the school characteristics that effected good behavior are those that are

fundamental to middle school philosophy. Among the attributes listed were the

fostering of a sense of belonging in the students, the provision of advisor-advisee

programs, and the interaction of students and teachers in the resolution of conflicts.








48
Researchers at the Center for Early Adolescence in Carrboro, N.C. investigated a

number of schools that had been identified as being superior in addressing the

developmental needs of transescents (Dorman, 1983; Lipsitz, 1984). Four of these

schools were selected for further study, as all four institutions evidenced an increase in

academic achievement. The researchers' scrutiny yielded middle school practices that

were shared by all four schools. The most outstanding feature was "their willingness

and ability to adapt all school practices to the individual differences in intellectual,

biological, and social maturation of their students" (Lipsitz, 1984, p. 167). Each of

these schools sought to establish a positive academic climate. The entire school

curriculum was built upon an awareness of and a commitment to the adolescent's

developmental stages and characteristics.

The organizational pattern of each school was such that individual homebases or

interdisciplinary teams had been established in order to encourage a sense of

community and belonging. The team organization and greater emphasis on the

individual learner have been found to yield improved academic achievement (George

& Oldaker, 1985). The research team also concluded that personal development is

enhanced by the increased student-teacher contact time afforded by the teaming

structure. Teaming has been found to alleviate the sense of alienation and anonymity

experienced by many young adolescents (Carnegie Council on Adolescent

Development, 1989; Epstein & Maclver, 1990; Johnston & Markle, 1986;

Merenbloom, 1986).

The above findings were duplicated in an outlier study that examined the

characteristics of inner-city intermediate schools (Levine et al., 1984). Schools in










Brooklyn, Watts, the Bronx, and Detroit were identified as exhibiting higher than

average scholastic achievement. Scrutiny of the schools' attributes indicated that all of

the schools had undergone radical structural reorganization in order to create a more

personalized environment. Central to the reorganization procedure was the

development of interdisciplinary teams, advisory programs, and other such

components whose primary purpose was to attend to the socioemotional needs of the

adolescents.


Summary

Although the literature provides mixed reviews concerning the effectiveness of the

implementation of the middle school concept, the bulk of recent research tends to be

supportive. Overall, the findings of most of the studies appear to indicate that student

achievement, attitude, and general well-being are enhanced by the middle school

structure.

The tenets espoused by middle school proponents bear a semblance to those

advocated by current second language acquisition theorists. Hence, the following

section of this literature review is dedicated to the principles and practices proposed by

current second language acquisition theory.


Second Language Acquisition Theory

Second language instruction, particularly at the elementary and middle school

levels, has been considerably influenced by Krashen's second language acquisition

theory. Krashen (1982), who has proposed that second language acquisition resembles








50
first language acquisition, has maintained that second language acquisition conditions

must thus emulate the conditions under which one's native tongue was acquired. It

has been his belief that this provision will facilitate acquisition of a second language.

Five hypotheses form the core of Krashen's second language acquisition theory:

(a) the acquisition-learning distinction hypothesis, (b) the natural order hypothesis,

(c) the monitor hypothesis, (d) the input hypothesis, and (e) the affective filter

hypothesis. Nevertheless, extensive discussion of the hypotheses in this paper has

been limited to the acquisition-learning distinction, the input, and the affective filter

hypotheses as they bear more relevance to the study at hand. Because of the

interrelatedness of all five hypotheses, the remaining two hypotheses will be reviewed,

but discussion will be cursory.


The Acquisition-Leaming Distinction

The first hypothesis addresses the distinction between language learning and

language acquisition. Adults, according to Krashen (1982), develop proficiency in a

second language by means of two diverse and unrelated processes.

One means by which individuals develop linguistic competence is via acquisition,

a process that parallels native language acquisition in children. Acquisition (also

termed implicit earning, informal learning, or natural leaning) refers to the

subconscious absorption of language by immersion in a highly contextualized linguistic

environment. The goal of the instructional setting is communication, not the

internalization of the rules of the language. The language acquirer does not receive

overt, formal instruction in the structure of the language and frequently is incognizant










of the rule governing a particular grammatical expression. The accuracy or

inaccuracy of the expression is merely sensed by the learner due to its repeated usage

in a communicative setting.

Contrary to acquisition, learning a second language results from a conscious effort

to learn rules in a formalized, highly-structured instructional situation. Learning (or

pit or frmal learning) can also be described as learning about a language

whereby one receives explicit information about the operation of language structures.

According to Krashen, the learning and acquisition processes function

independently. Furthermore, Krashen has contended that what is "learned" via

conscious, deliberate language study is unavailable for initiating utterances in the

second language. McLaughlin (1979) has taken exception to the acquisition-learning

distinction. He has maintained that this distinction does not account for the actual

cognitive processing that occurs in language development. He has proposed that

becoming proficient in a second language requires two different types of processing:

controlled processing and automatic processing. When an individual is initially

learning new material, he/she is consciously attempting to learn the material. The

process activates a temporary series of nodes in short-term memory. Such processing

requires the active attention of the learner. Learning, McLaughlin has argued,

constitutes the transfer of material from short-term to long-term memory. Since

controlled processes regulate the flow of information into long-term memory, they

underlie all learning.










Once information is learned via repetitive usage of the same sequence of

processing operations, the processing becomes automatic. Automatic processing

requires the activation of a permanent sequence of nodes in long-term memory in

response to a particular input configuration. This activation occurs without the

conscious effort of the learner. Once information has been transferred to long-term

memory and can be secured via automatic processing, its suppression or alteration is

difficult.

McLaughlin has thus viewed language development as the transfer of information

from short-term memory to long-term memory. As he has believed that learners can

and do utilize what they consciously learn in order to produce verbalizations, he has

thus called for the reversal of the acquisition-learning hypothesis. His contention is

that conscious learning of rules and structures must occur prior to communicative

language usage. This conscious learning then serves to contribute ultimately to greater

fluency in language production.


Natural Order Hypothesis

The natural order hypothesis claims that grammatical structures are acquired in a

certain developmental sequence regardless of what is being taught in the formal

instructional setting. This sequence is predetermined and follows a similar progression

in both child and adult acquirers of a second language. The implications for

instruction are that explicit grammar instruction can be for naught if the learner has

not as yet attained the developmental level to acquire the particular grammatical










structure being taught. Krashen has thus recommended the exclusion of explicit

grammar instruction in second language classes.

There are a number of studies that lend credibility to the natural order hypothesis.

Brown (1973) conducted a longitudinal investigation of morpheme production of

children acquiring English as a first language. Transcriptions of the spontaneous

discourse between the children and their mothers (and periodically others) within their

homes were the primary data of the study. Brown examined the children's mean

length of utterance (MLU), which he claimed is "an excellent simple index of

grammatical development because almost every new kind of knowledge increases

length" (p. 53). A particular morpheme was considered to be acquired when it

occurred in 90% or more of a child's speech samples. Brown determined that

children tended to acquire grammatical morphemes, the smallest meaning-bearing

linguistic unit, in a particular sequence.

De Villiers and de Villiers (1973) performed a cross-sectional analysis of Brown's

study with 21 English-speaking children from ages 16 months to 40 months. Speech

samples of the children were selected from two 1 1/2-hour play periods and mean

length of utterance was computed for each child. It was determined that the order of

acquisition of grammatical morphemes correlated very highly with that found in

Brown's longitudinal study.

Dulay and Burt (1974, 1975) conducted a cross-sectional investigation of native

Chinese- and Spanish-speaking children acquiring English as a second language.

Utilizing several different methods of speech analysis, they assessed the children's








54
acquisition order for 11 English functors-"the little function words that have at best a

minor role in conveying the meaning of a sentence: noun and verb inflections,

articles, auxiliaries, copulas and prepositions" (1974, p. 38). They found that the

children demonstrated a "natural order" in the acquisition of functors, regardless of

their native language. Although the children's order of second language acquisition

differed from the acquisition order of their native language, separate groups of second

language acquirers yielded significant similarities in their order of acquisition of the

functors.


Monitor Hypothesis

According to the monitor hypothesis, acquisition and learning serve two very

different functions in second language proficiency. "Normally, acquisition 'initiates'

our utterances in a second language and is responsible for our fluency. Learning has

only one function, and that is as a Monitor, or editor" (Krashen, 1982, p. 15). The

Monitor, as it is concerned with the correct application of grammatical rules and

structures, makes adjustments in our verbalizations.

Krashen (1982) has asserted that the following conditions must be present in order

to utilize the Monitor efficiently and effectively:

(i) Time. In order to think about and use conscious rules effectively, a
second language performer needs to have sufficient time. For most people,
normal conversation does not allow enough time to think about and use rules.
The over-use of rules in conversation can lead to trouble, i.e., a hesitant
style of talking and inattention to what the conversational partner is saying.

(ii) Focus on form. To use the Monitor effectively, time is not enough.
The performer must also be focused on form, or thinking about correctness
(Dulay and Burt, 1978). Even when we have time, we may be so involved
in what we are saying that we do not attend to how we are saying it.









(iii) Know the rule. This may be a very formidable requirement.
Linguistics has taught us that the structure of language is extremely
complex, and they claim to have described only a fragment of the best
known languages. We can be sure that our students are exposed only
to a small part of the total grammar of the language, and we know that
even the best students do not learn every rule they are exposed to.
(p. 16)

Krashen has recommended discretion in utilizing the Monitor. If there is

extensive and/or inappropriate employment of the Monitor, communication

interference or breakdown can occur. Excessive Monitor use can result "in the rise in

rank of items that are 'late-acquired' in the natural order, items that the performer has

learned but not acquired" (Krashen, 1982, p. 18). Minimal usage of the Monitor is

advised, as this premature use of later-learned grammatical items runs contrary to the

natural progression of language acquisition proposed in the natural order hypothesis.


Inut Hypothesis

Until recently, comphensible int was not within the repertoire of second
or foreign language teachers. However, with the publication of The Natural
Appach (Krashen & Terrell, 1983), this term became synonymous with what
was considered the goal of effective language instruction. (Pica, 1991, p. 399)

Comprehensible input, according to Krashen (1985b), is "the true and only

causative variable in second language acquisition" (p. 60). Comprehensible input is

information that is understandable, even if it is a little beyond the student's current

level of comprehension. The term understandable assumes a specific meaning in

Krashen's second language acquisition theory. In this context, the term implies that

the language acquirer's focus is on the meaning and not the structure of the

communication.










Krashen has espoused the view that a language is acquired by the reception and

processing of a message composed of structures that are a little beyond one's current

level of understanding. This schema is denoted by i l, the i representing the

student's current level of competence and the 1 symbolizing a level just a little beyond

that stage. Acquisition is thus facilitated by the progressive introduction of novel

information, always cushioned within previously-acquired language and/or

paralinguistic stimuli. In this manner, the student does not experience boredom by the

repeated presentation of previously-acquired information. In addition, the student will

not become intimidated by the introduction of isolated terminology that is far beyond

his/her current level of understanding.

In the same vein, it is not required that the input be finely tuned to the acquirer's

current level of linguistic competence. In attempting to communicate with the

language acquirer, the target language speaker "casts a net of structure" (Krashen &

Terrell, 1983) around the acquirer's i; that is, the message may contain input that falls

below, at, or above the acquirer's proficiency level. It has been found (Krashen,

1980) that in natural linguistic situations, the breadth of the net cast is inherently

appropriate for each unique communicative context. A net of limited size might

consist solely of familiar expressions, thus prohibiting progress to a higher level of

language development. "A wider net might contain too much noise, too much

language that is not understood by the child, for optimum acquisition" (Krashen,

1980, p. 11). A roughly-tuned net assures the consistent provision of i + 1.










In order for i + 1 to be comprehensible, the student must be able to garner

meaning from contextual cues. Accompanying input by visuals, realia, gestures, and

any other extralinguistic, contextual stimuli can render it more comprehensible.

Cummins (1981) hypothesized that language competency can be perceived in terms of

the degree of contextual support necessary for expressing or comprehending through a

language. Context-embedded language, or contextualized language, is reinforced by

numerous clues. Contextualized language requires the manipulation of the abilities

associated with face-to-face interaction--the monitoring of one's linguistic partner in

order to react appropriately (Snow, 1987). Examples of contextualized language

activities are physical response activities, demonstrations and descriptions, simple

games, map skills, the execution of simple directions, art projects, musical exercises,

and physical education exercises. Such activities are particularly recommended for

beginners in a language program, as they facilitate comprehension (Cummins, 1981).

Context-reduced, or decontextualized language, requires the ability to "provide a

coherent, comprehensible, informationally adequate account without signals from an

interlocutor" (Snow, 1987, p. 4). Context-reduced activities are telephone

conversations, writing lists, notes, recipes, and directions without diagrams, and the

completion of forms. Decontextualized activities can be introduced with increasing

frequency as language students gain in competency.

The importance of context in the facilitation of input comprehension has been

validated by a number of studies (Ausubel, 1968; Bransford & Johnson, 1972;

Hudson, 1982; Mueller, 1980; Omaggio, 1979, 1986). Mueller (1980) examined the









influence of visual organizers on the listening comprehension of students in college-

level German classes. Visual organizers are pictures, diagrams, and the like that are

presented with input in order to assist the student in the formulation of a mental

representation of the topic at hand. Evaluation of listening comprehension consisted

of a written free-recall synopsis in English by the students of a German passage that

had been presented orally. One group of students had been shown a visual before

hearing the passage, another group had viewed a visual after hearing the passage, and

a third group had been provided no visual. It was found that listening comprehension

was greatest for students who had viewed the visual prior to the presentation of the

passage. This finding was particularly enhanced for those students at lower

proficiency levels.

Omaggio (1979) conducted an intricate study in which the effects of "pictorial

contexts" on the comprehension of passages in both introductory college French and in

the students' native language (English) were examined. The two independent

variables that were manipulated were "pictorial contextual organizers" and the type of

text that was provided. Six different levels of the contextual organizer were

introduced:

(1) no visual organizer was provided
(2) a single-object drawing depicting the title of the story to be read was
provided prior to exposure to the test
(3) a contextual picture was provided prior to reading depicting action from
the beginning of the story
(4) a contextual picture depicting action from the middle of the story was
provided prior to reading
(5) a contextual picture depicting action from the end of the story was
provided prior to reading
(6) all three contextual visuals were provided simultaneously prior to
reading. (Omaggio, 1986, pp. 105-106)










There were three experimental conditions for the type of text that was presented to

the students. The subjects were either provided with no textual material (they were

thus forced to glean meaning solely from the pictorial contexts), a 650-word text

written in French, or the same text written in English. The students indicated their

comprehension of the material via the composition in English of a summary of the

passage and the completion of a 20-item multiple-choice/true-false test in English on

the passage.

Omaggio found no significant differences in the performance of the students

reading the text in English, regardless of the pictorial contextual condition with which

they were presented. However, significant differences in reading comprehension were

found for those students who read the same text in French. As noted by Omaggio

(1986):

The pictorial contexts used as advance organizers had a significant effect:
those subjects who had the picture depicting action from the beginning of
the story were at a significant advantage over all the others in the French
textual conditions .... The advantage of having pictures with the French
text must have been due to the fact that they served as an advance organizer
or script activator, allowing students to retrieve a relevant schema from
their cognitive structure to aid in the comprehension process. (p. 106)

Hudson (1982) also examined the effects of advance organizers on reading

comprehension. The students in his study were ESL (English as a Second Language)

students who were randomly assigned to three experimental groups. In one group, the

students read a passage, were administered a test on the passage, read the passage

again, and were re-administered the test. In the second group, a vocabulary list was

presented to the students prior to reading the passage and being tested. The third








60

group viewed pictures relevant to the passage's theme and were requested to speculate

about its content prior to reading it and taking the test. The performance of the third

group was found to be significantly superior to that of the other two groups,

substantiating previous findings that reading comprehension is greatly heightened via

the provision of pictorial contextual support.

The enhancement of listening comprehension by the accompaniment of contextual

stimuli has also been supported by a number of studies conducted by Bransford and

Johnson (1972). In this series of studies, the students were presented orally with an

ambiguously-written prose passage, after which they were to indicate their degree of

comprehension of the passage (by rating the difficulty of the passage on a 7-point

Likert-style scale) and their recollection of factual information within the passage.

The students were randomly assigned to one of five groups. The No-Context

Group received no visual stimuli while listening to the passage. The Context-Before

Group viewed an appropriate visual prior to hearing the passage. A thematically-

correct picture was presented to the Context-After Group following the passage.

Before hearing the passage, the Partial-Context Group was shown a picture in which

the objects had been reorganized. The No-Context (2) Group received no pictorial

support, but listened to the passage twice.

The group that viewed the pictorial support prior to hearing the passage was found

to significantly outscore the other groups. Students in this group produced

comprehension and recall scores that were significantly higher than those produced by

students in the other four groups; their scores were more than double those of any of










the other students. Bransford and Johnson surmised that comprehension was

augmented via the provision of background information, as it would allow the students

to tap into their mental schema and organize the novel input. The new input was

rendered more comprehensible by the background information (Krashen, 1982).

Omaggio (1986) concurred: "For material to be meaningful, it must be clearly

relatable to existing knowledge that the learner already has.... [Educators need] to

provide 'advance organizers' devices that activate relevant background knowledge -

to facilitate the learning and retention of new material" (pp. 96-97).

Review of the literature continued to yield evidence in support of paralinguistic

stimuli as a factor in the comprehensibility of input. Anderson, Reynolds, Schallert,

and Goetz (1977), Johnson (1981, 1982), and Ribovich (1979) all conducted studies in

which students were tested on their comprehension of passages containing familiar

material and passages dealing with unfamiliar topics. The significant findings indicate

that text familiarity, rather than lexical or grammatical structure, is a primary factor in

the facilitation of comprehension.

Caretaker speech

Although comprehension can be enhanced by pictorial contextual stimuli and topic

familiarity, Krashen (1985a) has proposed that caretaker speech can serve the same

purpose. Caretaker speech (also termed mothers, foreigner talk, or teacher talk) is

simplified speech. It resembles the type of speech employed when parents speak to

their children--from infancy on. It is composed of syntactically simple sentences,

relates to the "here and now," and tends to be accompanied by many actions, gestures,









facial expressions, and other extralinguistic stimuli for the facilitation of

comprehension. It is roughly-tuned to the child's present degree of linguistic

proficiency and tends to become increasingly complex as the child matures

linguistically. The relative lack of complexity of caretaker speech is probably not

resultant of any conscious act on the part of the speaker to formally teach the language

to the child. The speaker is merely motivated to modify his/her utterances for the

sole purpose of facilitating the child's comprehension of the communication (Cross,

1977; Hatch, 1983; Krashen, 1982; Wong-Fillmore, 1985).

Hatch (1983) expressed an interest in the nature of discourse between speakers and

learners of a language, regardless of whether it was the learners' first or second

language. She noted that the modifications made by the speakers to facilitate learner

comprehension of first as well as second languages were comparable. The alterations

in utterances were identical to those characteristic of Krashen's caretaker speech.

Wong-Fillmore (1985) described the speech adjustments recorded by Hatch:

They [the speakers] speak more slowly, enunciate more clearly, make greater
use of concrete references than of abstract ones, and use shorter and less
complex sentences than they might otherwise. They also make greater use of
repetitions and rephrasings than usual, and they accompany their speech with
gestures and demonstrations that give learners some extra-linguistic cues to
aid in their understanding of what is being said. (p. 33)

As the child matures linguistically, the complexity of the caretaker speech

increases. However, the correlation between the two variables is not precise. The

correlation coefficient between input complexity and the child's level of proficiency

tends to be positive, but is not very high (Brown, R., 1977; Cross, 1977; Krashen,

1985a; Newport, Gleitman, & Gleitman, 1977).








63
Cross (1977) investigated the complexity of input directed at children between the

ages of 19 and 32 months who had been identified as rapid language acquirers. The

speech data were hour-long audio- and video-taped recordings of spontaneous mother-

child discourse. Supplemental data consisted of written notations of phonetic and

contextual information recorded by Cross or her assistant concurrent with each taping.

Cross found some indication of 'rough' syntactic tuning of speech to the child's

level of comprehension. The caretaker speech input correlated with the child's output

(r=.56, p<.05) and with the child's level of understanding (r=.75, p<.01). Cross

concluded that:

The syntax of mothers, even to rapidly developing children, is not uniformly
pitched just a step ahead of the child in either linguistic or psycholinguistic
complexity. Some utterances are pitched at the child's level, some even below
this, and others are considerably in advance of what the children themselves
can say. (p. 180)

The significance of this study is that the children had apparently been subjected to

much comprehensible input. According to Cross, 72% of the input dealt referred to

the "here and now," 55% constituted a reaction to a child's previous utterance, 6%

consisted of one-word verbalizations, 8% related to "simple stock phrases," and 2%

was indecipherable. She also noted that there appeared to be much authentic

communication and comprehensible input between the children and adults: The

children and the mothers were found to be almost equal contributors to the

conversations. As noted by Cross, "If children acquire the form of language through

the process of comprehension, then the mothers of rapidly acquiring children seem to

make it easy for them to do so" (pp. 171-172).










Cross's finding that caretaker speech is roughly-tuned to the learner's level of

understanding, but that it is comprehensible, is congruent with the second corollary of

Krashen's input hypothesis. This corollary states that the child's next grammatical

rule need not be included in every verbalization or every linguistic exchange. Given a

sufficient degree of comprehensible input, the learner will automatically receive

exposure to the necessary grammatical structures (Krashen, 1982).

The comprehensible input controversy

Few, if any, studies dispute the instrumental role played by comprehensible input

in second language acquisition. What continues to be a topic of controversy,

however, is Krashen's assertion that "comprehensible input is the true and only

causative variable in second language acquisition" (Krashen, 1985b, p. 60). Krashen

has maintained that, in the initial stage of acquisition, provision must be made for a

period of silence during which no speech production is required of the acquirer. The

silent period, he has posited, approximates the linguistic environment to which the

child was exposed during first language acquisition. During this stage, the child is

developing linguistic proficiency via the absorption of comprehensible input. The

child is provided with comprehensible input in the form of caretaker speech, visuals,

gestures, and a myriad of other extralinguistic stimuli. Actual speech production in

the second language may not surface for a number of months. "Speaking ability

emerges on its own after enough competence has been developed by listening and

understanding" (Krashen, 1982, p. 27).










Krashen's viewpoint has been shared by Straight (1985), who has maintained that

successful linguistic proficiency is effected by instruction initially focused at the

development of the receptive skills (e.g., listening and reading comprehension) to the

exclusion of training in speech production. He has asserted that "full productive

language ability develops ... as a virtually automatic by-product of the development

of fluent comprehension processes through exposure to high-quality input presented in

comprehensible contexts" (p. 38).

The superlative and almost exclusive role in second language acquisition attributed

by Krashen to comprehensible input has been the topic of much controversy (Long,

1981; Rivers, 1986, 1987; Van Patten, 1987; White, 1987). Van Patten contended

that what is problematic with the input hypothesis is the dubious value that Krashen

places on grammar instruction, forced speech production, and error correction, all of

which are strategies that have been employed for years by the great majority of

foreign language instructors.

Van Patten also disputed Krashen's assertion that comprehensible input plays a

more substantial role in the process of acquisition than in the process of earning a

language. Dismissing Krashen's learning-acquisition distinction, he supported the

theory of McLaughlin (1979) that language acquisition is essentially a transfer of

information from short-term memory to long-term memory storage. According to

McLaughlin, new input calls for the controlled processing of short-term memory; the

learner's conscious awareness is required. Repeated presentation of the input will

render the cognitive processing of this input automatic, as the information will have

been transferred to long-term memory.








66
Van Patten (1987) and White (1987) took exception to Krashen's lack of provision

for incomprehensible input in his theory. White, in particular, argued that entirely

comprehensible input does not provide enough examples of structural patterns to allow

a student to formulate a complete schema of the new language. She contended that

Krashen's input hypothesis:

runs into a number of difficulties, largely because of its lack of precision:
where comprehensible input is interpreted as simplified input, one is in danger
of providing less than adequate input to the acquirer. With its emphasis on
meaning and extra-linguistic factors as crucial, the hypothesis neglects the
role of system-internal changes [internally-driven aspects of grammar
development], fails to consider cases where the input does not help at all, and
underestimates the problem of the acquisition of form. (p. 108)

Although Swain (1985) has not contested the importance of comprehensible input

in language acquisition, she has stressed the additional need to provide the students

opportunities to produce comprehensible output. Output affords the students

meaningful utilization of their linguistic skills. Swain has indicated a further benefit

of comprehensible output: As learners strive to produce messages in which their own

communicative intentions are encoded, their ability to formulate a mental

configuration of the language is enhanced.

The role of interaction in the provision of comprehensible input

Long (1985) maintained that the provision of a silent period during the initial

stages of second language instruction is unwarranted, as it does not approximate actual

first language acquisition. He contended that first language acquisition develops by

means of communicative exchanges between the language speaker (usually the parent)

and the infant. The interchanges, which commence at birth, need not be verbal, but










may consist of facial expressions, tactile responses, and the like. Long's thesis, in

essence, was that one does not acquire a language solely by being the recipient of

input. In order to acquire the language, learners must be active discourse partners

who negotiate the quality and quantity of input to which they are exposed.

A similar stance was posited by Schlesinger (1977), Carroll, Tanenhaus, and

Bever (1978), and Rivers (1987), who asserted that intensive listening alone probably

will not effect fluent and coherent production of language. They differentiated

between the skills necessary for listening comprehension and those required for speech

production. Listening comprehension requires knowledge of the communicative

context and attentiveness to the rhythm of the speaker's utterances. Reliance on

semantic cues for inference of meaning is a significant factor in listening

comprehension.

The production of speech, on the contrary, originates with the speaker. The

speaker controls the discourse by selecting the level of complexity of the linguistic

components of the message. Some grammatical accuracy is necessary on the part of

the speaker in order to maintain coherent communication, whereas listeners

circumvent much of the syntax in favor of semantic factors. "This is the fundamental

difference between listening and speaking. Because of this difference, neither alone

can lead to the other in some incidental, subconscious, unfocused way" (Rivers, 1987,

p. 8).

Numerous foreign language proponents (Cortese, 1987; Rivers, 1986, 1987;

Stern, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981; Wells, 1981) have concurred that interaction










between individuals is imperative for the development of linguistic proficiency. Its

inherent value in second language acquisition is underscored by the following passage

by Rivers (1987):

Interaction involves not just expression of one's own ideas but comprehension
of those of others. The participants work out interpretations of meaning
through this interaction, which is always understood in a context, physical or
experiential, with nonverbal cues adding aspects of meaning beyond the verbal.
All of these factors should be present as students learn to communicate:
listening to others, talking with others, negotiating meaning in a shared
context. (p. 4)

Neu (1991) asserted that "interaction, whether in the ideal situation with a native

speaker of the target language, or with another learner of the target language, is the

essential component [of language acquisition]" (p. 428). Strong (1983), who

examined the socialization patterns and second language acquisition of Spanish-

speaking kindergartners, found that acquisition was significantly enhanced by one's

"talkativeness and responsiveness" (e.g., one's active utilization of the language).

Bissex (1981) maintained that:

children learn to talk by interacting with an environment that provides rich
information about language; they learn by speaking, being spoken to, asking
questions and listening to speech. .. children learn to talk by talking
in an environment that is full of talk. (p. 786)

Rivers (1986) concurred wholeheartedly that students must be simultaneously

involved in the comprehension and expression of a meaningful message in order to

achieve fluency in the language:

Students ... achieve facility in using a language when their attention
is focused on conveying and receiving authentic messages messages that
contain information of interest to speaker and listener in a situation of
importance to both that is, through interaction ... interaction between
people who have something to share. (p. 2)








69
An important component of interactive teaching is the negotiation of meaning, an

interactive communicative process by which input can be rendered comprehensible

(Gass & Varonis, 1985; Long, 1985; Long & Porter, 1985; Pica, Young, & Doughty,

1987; Rivers, 1992; Savignon, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981; Swain, 1985).

Negotiation of meaning refers to the give and take in the form of linguistic

modifications, circumlocutions, repetitions, and nonverbal exchange between

interlocutors in order to facilitate comprehension. Gass and Varonis (1985) described

negotiations of meaning as "side sequences that are crucial to the success of the

discourse because they let participants maintain as well as possible equal footing in the

conversation" (p. 151). A side sequence denotes a break from the natural flow of the

communication (Jefferson, 1972). Equal footing refers to the ability of each

conversational partner to respond appropriately to the last verbalization of the other

partner. "When one or both interlocutors have 'slipped,' there is a need to regain

their place in a conversation and negotiation takes place" (Gass & Varonis, p. 151).

Thus, although input is a necessary factor in the acquisition of a language, it is

sufficient only when accompanied by the negotiation of meaning (Gass & Varonis,

1985; Long, 1983; Pica et al., 1987; Porter, 1986; Strong, 1983).

Negotiated interaction has been found to enhance the comprehension of input

(Long, 1983; Pica et al., 1987; Swain, 1985). Pica et al. (1987) examined the

comprehension of language learners who were exposed to messages at different

linguistic levels. One group of learners, after hearing instructions to complete a task,

received the opportunity to solicit clarification of the directions. Another group heard









a linguistically simpler version of the instructions, but was given no opportunity for

clarification. It was found that the comprehension of the group afforded the

opportunity for negotiation (clarification of instructions) was significantly superior to

that of the group lacking this opportunity.

Long (1983) examined the comprehension of students grouped to perform different

types of group tasks. Some of the tasks were two-way tasks which required

interactive participation by both members of the pair. Other tasks were characterized

as one-way tasks which demanded active involvement of only one member of the pair.

Long concluded that the students in the interactive groups generated a greater degree

of comprehensible input, which ultimately resulted in greater language acquisition.

The roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in the development

of communicative competence in English-speaking children learning French as a

second language were evaluated in a study conducted by Swain (1985). Several

different constituents of communicative competence, (grammatical, discourse, and

sociolinguistic competence), were subjected to rigorous assessment by means of

interviews, film recounts, multiple-choice tests, and composition of narratives, letters,

and notes. The children's communicative competence was found to be facilitated

through discourse exchanges in which negotiations of meaning occurred. The

conversational exchanges, Swain posited, derive from comprehensible output:

Comprehensible output... is a necessary mechanism of acquisition
independent of the role of comprehensible input. Its role is, at minimum,
to provide opportunities for contextualized, meaningful use, to test out
hypotheses about the target language, and to move the learner from a
purely semantic analysis of the language to a syntactic analysis of it.
(p. 252)










As the above second language theorists have acknowledged, there is a legitimate

place for comprehensible input in second language acquisition. However, they have

contested its exclusive role as proposed by Krashen (1982). They have submitted that

modifications be made in his theory to accommodate the necessary and equally valid

role of incomprehensible input (Van Patten, 1987; White, 1987), comprehensible

output (Swain, 1985), interaction (Bissex, 1981; Carroll et al., 1978; Cortese, 1987;

Long, 1985; Neu, 1991; Rivers, 1986, 1987, 1992; Schlesinger, 1977; Stern, 1983;

Strong, 1983; Wells, 1981), and negotiation of meaning (Gass & Varonis, 1985;

Long, 1983; Long & Porter, 1985; Met, n.d.; Pica et al., 1987; Porter, 1986;

Savignon, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981) in language development.


Affective Filter Hypothesis

Krashen's affective filter hypothesis addresses the role of affective factors in the

development of linguistic competence. The notion of an affective filter that can

interfere with language acquisition was initially posited by Dulay and Burt (1977),

who hypothesized the presence of a "socio-affective filter."

Krashen has maintained that one's affective filter expedites or inhibits second

language acquisition. The affective filter is a conceptual entity that obstructs or

augments the complete utilization of input received by the language acquirer for

language acquisition. Hostility, anxiety, and other feelings of discomfort heighten the

level of the affective filter. Although input received by the language student may be

comprehensible, it may not be absorbed well because of the hindering influence of the










high affective filter. The input will not strike "deeply," (Stevick, 1976) and hence,

will not be retained.

Conversely, the more the students are "off the defensive" (Stevick, 1976), the

greater will be the degree of acquisition. The affective filter is lowered when the

linguistic setting is nonthreatening. The lowering of the affective filter triggers the

activation of the language acquisition device (LAD). The LAD, denoted "the mental

organ devoted to language" (Chomsky, 1975; Krashen, 1985a), affords one a

readiness for language acquisition. When the LAD is activated, the language acquirer

becomes receptive to input. The input will, in the terminology of Stevick (1976),

strike "deeper."

Stevick made frequent reference to the concept of "depth." He proposed that all

authentic communication lies below a hypothetical line. Beneath the parameters of

this line can be found emotional and cognitive associations with our basic necessities,

our most vivid memories, and our goals and ambitions. The lowest boundary of this

dimension extends far beyond our conscious perception. In order for input to strike

deeply and permeate this boundary, "we must relate at least a part of the meaning

and structure [of the input] to meanings and structures that are already in our long-

term memory" (p. 35).

Stevick also alluded to language students being "off the defensive." He made a

distinction between defensive learning and receptive learning and their importance in

second language acquisition. Defensive learning is analogous to the transmission

(Barnes, 1976; Wells, 1982) or banking (Freire, 1973, 1983) pedagogical model. In










this model, the instructor functions as one who imparts knowledge to a passive

audience. All interaction is initiated and regulated by the instructor. Stevick (1976)

provided a metaphorical explanation of defensive learning:

The teacher [is] seen as hurling darts at the student. If a dart
strikes an unprotected area (that is, if the learner makes a mistake in
speaking or understanding), the experience is painful. What the learner
tries to do, therefore, is to see to it that there are as few chinks as
possible in his armor. .... The teacher is an adversary against
whom the learner may defend himself in a number of ways. (p. 110)

In an environment characterized by defensive learning, student attention is focused

on the protection of oneself from feelings of discomfort-embarrassment, hostility,

anxiety, humiliation, and the like. As the bulk of one's cognitive energy is devoted

towards one's self-defense and self-preservation, one's receptivity to input is nil

(Krashen, 1982; Stevick, 1976). The affective filter is very high. Such an

environment is viewed as a hindrance to second language acquisition, as teacher-

dominated and -controlled classrooms cannot, by their nature, permit the volume of

linguistic exchange essential to language acquisition (Rivers, 1987).

Receptive learning, on the contrary, results in the lowering of the affective filter.

Consequently, students are off the defensive. Stevick (1976) likened receptive

learning to "what happens to seed that has been sown in good soil" (p. 111).

According to Stevick, the goals of language instruction are fluency, comprehension,

and acquisition of vocabulary (the yield of the crop). The means by which to attain

those goals are the content of the instructional resources (the seed), methodology and

instructional aids (the machinery), the unique, innate characteristics of the students










(the richness of the soil), and the extraneous variables that are beyond one's control

(the weather).

Stevick continued his thesis, affirming the additional need to attend to the "the

boulder and the weeds-ego-defense reactions of withdrawal and aggression" (p. 112)

of the learners. In order to promote receptive learning, instructors must possess an

awareness of these defense mechanisms both in themselves and in their charges and

the rationale behind their existence. For input to strike more deeply, threats to the

student's psyche must be diminished by the establishment of a non-threatening climate;

once one is off the defensive, one's receptivity to input is greatly enhanced (Stevick,

1976). Rivers (1987) concurred: "Once students feel appreciated and valued, they

are anxious to show what they can do, to propose and participate in activities" (p. 10).

Studies have indicated the existence of various affective factors that correlate with

successful second language acquisition (Bialystok & Frohlich, 1977; Brown, H.,

1977; Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982; Dunkel, 1947; Gardner & Lambert, 1972;

Gardner, Smythe, Clement, & Gliksman, 1976; Heyde, 1977; Krashen, 1981;

Naiman, Frohlich, Stem, & Todesco, 1978; Oiler, Hudson, & Liu, 1977; Wittenbom,

Larsen, & Mogil, 1945). These affective variables can be generally categorized as

follows:

(1) Motivation land attitudinal factors. Performers with high motivation
generally do better in second language acquisition ....
(2) Self-confidence. Performers with self-confidence and a good self-image
tend to do better in second language acquisition.
(3) Aniday. Low anxiety appears to be conducive to second language
acquisition, whether measured as personal or classroom anxiety. (p. 31,
Krashen, 1982)










Motivation and attitudinal factors

Attitudinal factors are pertinent to second language acquisition in that they

influence one's affective filter (Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1981). "The 'right'

attitudinal factors produce two effects: they encourage useful input for language

acquisition and they allow the acquirer to be 'open' to this input so it can be utilized

for acquisition" (Krashen, 1981, p. 5).

Moreover, a learner's "motivation to learn is thought to be determined by his

attitudes and by his orientation toward learning a second language" (Lambert, 1961,

cited in Hancock, 1972). Gardner and Lambert (1972) made a distinction between

integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. They maintained that integrative

motivation is indicative of "a willingness or a desire to be like representative members

of the other language community, and to become associated, at least vicariously, with

that other community" (p. 14). An integratively-motivated individual seeks to acquire

or learn a language primarily out of interest and pure enjoyment. Stevick (1976)

contended that one who is integratively motivated will feel non-threatened by speakers

of the target language and hence will be more susceptible to receptive learning (i.e.,

acquisition).

Instrumental motivation reflects one's aspiration to attain linguistic competency for

purely utilitarian purposes, as in the enhancement of one's employability skills

(Gardner & Lambert, 1972). It has been found that students demonstrating integrative

motivation are characterized by a lower affective filter than that of instrumentally-

motivated students. Integratively-motivated students have been found to exhibit










significantly greater linguistic proficiency than their instrumentally-motivated

counterparts (Gardner, 1959; Gardner & Lambert, 1959; Gardner et al., 1976).

Gardner and Lambert (1959), in an effort to determine the comparative

importance of linguistic aptitude and specific motivational variables in second

language acquisition, examined the language achievement of 75 eleventh-grade high

school students in a French class in Montreal. The students completed a battery of

tests measuring verbal intelligence, linguistic aptitude, and an assortment of attitudinal

and motivational variables. Analysis of the intercorrelations between these measures

yielded two factors significantly related to language acquisition: linguistic aptitude and

a motivational variable. A significant positive correlation between the motivational

orientation index and language achievement indicated that integrative motivation was a

greater predictor of achievement in French than instrumental motivation. These

findings were replicated by Gardner (1959), who extended the study to include 83

tenth graders enrolled in French.

The importance of integrative motivation in language acquisition was again

validated in a similar study by Gardner et al. (1976). Assessment of the performance

of students in grades seven through 11 enrolled in French in Montreal found

integrative motivation to be a better predictor of competency in French than

instrumental motivation. The results also indicated that integrative motivation

influences classroom behavior. Integratively-motivated students offered to answer

questions more frequently, provided a greater degree of correct responses, and

received more teacher praise than non-integratively motivated students.








77
The role of integrative motivation in second language acquisition has been refuted

by a number of studies (Strong, 1984; Svanes, 1987). Strong examined the

relationship between integrative motivation and second language acquisition of

Spanish-speaking kindergartners. Integrative motivation measures were secured by

determining children's preferences in the selection of friends, playmates, and

workmates. Scores were derived on the basis of the children's tendencies to select

members of the target language community. Analysis of spontaneous utterances, from

which were attained measures of syntax, vocabulary acquisition, and pronunciation,

indicated the level of the children's communicative English competency. Statistical

analyses yielded no evidence supportive of the claim that second language acquisition

is enhanced by an integrative orientation towards members of the second language

community.

Strong's findings were corroborated by Svanes (1987), who studied foreign adults

learning Norwegian as a second language. Interested in assessing their motives in

studying Norwegian, he administered to the students a Likert-format questionnaire

consisting of 20 statements expressing reasons for their interest in learning Norwegian.

The students were to indicate on a 5-point scale the degree of importance of each

reason relative to their own motives. Their proficiency in Norwegian was measured

by means of the Level Two Norwegian examination, which includes essay, listening

comprehension, reading comprehension, cloze test, and oral proficiency components.

Contrary to Gardner and Lambert's (1959) contention that integrative motivation

is a more influential factor in language acquisition than instrumental motivation,









Svanes determined that no correlation exists between integrative motivation and

language acquisition. He did acknowledge, though, that the bulk of his research

involved highly-motivated university students. He speculated that integrative

motivation may be relatively insignificant to university students, who are already well-

motivated.

The influence of student attitude toward the foreign language class and instructor

on language achievement has also been the focus of empirical studies (Bialystok &

Frohlich, 1977; Naiman et al., 1978; Richard-Amato, 1987). The effects of learning

environment on the language achievement of ninth and tenth graders in French classes

in Toronto was investigated by Bialystok and Frohlich (1977). The four variables

selected for examination were language aptitude, attitude and motivation, field

independence, and use of learning strategies. These factors were measured via the

Modern Language Aptitude Test, Gardner and Smythe's National Test Battery for

attitude and motivation, the Hidden Figures Test for field independence, and a

learning style questionnaire developed by the researchers. The International

Educational Achievement Test of French was employed to assess language

competency. A significant finding of the study was that attitude, constituted by

integrative orientation, motivational intensity, and evaluation of the learning situation,

is primary in predicting language competency.

Naimon et al. (1978) continued the assessment of the language acquisition of

students studying French as a second language in Toronto. Interviews conducted with

the students on a one-on-one basis provided a measure of the students' general










attitude, which was rated on a 5-point scale. General attitude was defined as one's

perception of the learning environment and one's general feelings about learning the

language in this particular instructional situation. The students were also administered

an extensive battery of tests: the International Educational Achievement Test of

French, the Imitation Task to measure productive competence, and cognitive-style and

personality tests. Observations of student classroom behavior and teacher interviews

provided supplemental information about the students. An analysis of the results

indicated that general attitude did indeed significantly correlate with a verbal French

test (r=.42, < .01) and a listening comprehension test in French (r=.48, p<.01).

Richard-Amato (1987) investigated the influence of attitudes toward oneself,

toward the target language and target language community (particularly peers of the

students), toward the instructor, and toward the classroom environment on language

acquisition. She determined that all of the above variables were influential to some

degree in one's language acquisition. "The affective domain includes several variables

that can either enhance second language acquisition or hinder it, depending upon

whether they are positive or negative, the degree to which they are present, and the

combinations in which we find them" (p. 54).

Self-confidence

In addition to motivational variables, self-confidence has also been found to

influence language acquisition (Brown, H.D., 1977; Dulay et al., 1982; Heyde,

1977). Dulay et al. (1982) hypothesized that a self-confident individual would possess








80
a lower affective filter and hence, be more receptive to input. Consequently, language

acquisition would be enhanced. They elaborated:

Self-confident people have the advantage of not fearing rejection as much as
those with high anxiety levels and are therefore more likely to put themselves
in learning situations and to do so repeatedly. They are thrown into less
personal turmoil when they make mistakes than those who are more self-
conscious. This probably enhances subconscious language learning because
they are more able to take in and process what they hear at any given moment.
To use our terms, the filter of the self-confident person is a larger screen.
(p. 75)

Congruent with this viewpoint is that expressed by H. Brown (1977):

Presumably, the person with high self-esteem is able to reach out beyond
himself more freely, to be less inhibited, and because of his ego strength,
to make the necessary mistakes involved in language learning with less
threat to his ego. (p. 352)

The relationship between self-esteem and the oral production of ESL (English as a

Second Language) students at the University of Michigan was examined by Heyde

(1977). Self-esteem measures were obtained by the administration of a version of the

Sherwood Self Concept Inventory and by students' evaluations of their own worth on

a self-esteem scale. Oral production estimates were acquired by means of instructor

ratings and student self-ratings. The findings indicated a high positive correlation

between self-concept and acquisition of verbal communicative skills.

The relationship between self-esteem and language proficiency was also

investigated by Oiler et al. (1977), who studied ESL students whose native language

was Chinese. The students completed self-evaluations and a cloze test. A cloze test

assesses reading comprehension skills. Students are provided with a passage in which

every nth word is omitted. This type of test, which requires careful attention to








81

grammatical structures, "provides an interesting and thought-provoking exercise which

trains the student to look carefully at all structural clues and to range around within a

semantic field for related concepts" (Rivers, Azevedo, & Heflin, Jr., 1989, p. 261).

In the study conducted by Oiler et al., the students' performance on the cloze test

was found to be associated with their self-perceptions. Students who described

themselves as "democratic, broad-minded, and calm" and those who characterized

themselves as "kind, friendly, not business-like, considerate, and helpful" attained

significantly higher scores on the cloze test than students who employed negatively-

connotive adjectives in self-descriptions. The researchers concluded that a direct

correlation exists between self-concept and language achievement, in that "the more

positive S's self-concept, the higher S's achievement in ESL" (p. 14).

Anxiety

In addition to self-confidence, anxiety has also been found to correlate with

language proficiency (Carroll, 1963; Dunkel, 1947; Ely, 1986; Gardner, et al., 1976;

Krashen, 1981; Naiman et al., 1978; Wittenborn et al., 1945). Wittenborn et al.

(1945), who studied college students in French and Spanish classes, administered an

extensive questionnaire consisting of items from three categories: personal or

emotional factors, knowledge of content, and study techniques. Scores in these three

areas were correlated with final examination and course grades. One of the major

findings of the study was that low achievers are characterized by high anxiety and low

self-confidence. Conversely, high achievers exhibit lower levels of anxiety and a

greater degree of self-confidence.








82

The effect of personality variables on language achievement was further examined

by Dunkel (1947). Students entering the University of Chicago in 1946-47 were

administered the Rorschach test and a full battery of entrance examinations, which

included the ACE Psychological Examination and a foreign language placement test.

A Latin test given at the end of the first year measured their language achievement.

Upon analysis of intercorrelations, Dunkel concluded that low achievers are

characterized by feelings of "emotionality, inner conflict, and anxiety."

Carroll (1963) investigated the relationship between test anxiety and language

proficiency attained in intensive foreign language classes primarily under governmental

auspices, such as those in the Air Force or at the Foreign Service Institute. The

results indicated a small negative correlation (r=-.20), signifying that as test anxiety

increases, there is a tendency for language competency to decrease. Gardner et al.

(1976), who examined the linguistic performances of students studying French in

grades seven through 11 in Montreal, found that classroom anxiety is associated with

both communicative skills and grades in French.

Naimon et al. (1978), whose study was previously discussed in greater detail,

assessed the language achievement of students enrolled in French in grades eight

through 12 in Toronto. They concluded that fear of rejection, anxiety, and similar

feelings of discomfort are associated with course failure. In addition, a composite

variable identified as "overall classroom personality" was found to correlate with

performance on an imitation test (t=0.36, p<.01) and with achievement on a test of

listening comprehension (Q=0.38, p<.01). Overall classroom personality was










denoted by one's eagerness to respond, one's reaction to being called upon without

solicitation, and one's embarrassment in speaking French.

Ely (1986) assessed the degree to which classroom discomfort, willingness to take

risks, involvement in classroom activities, and motivation mediate success in second

language classes. The students, who were university students enrolled in first year

Spanish courses, completed a questionnaire consisting of items indicative of "language

class discomfort, language class risktaking, language class sociability, strength of

motivation, attitude toward the language class, and concern for grade." "Classroom

participation was operationalized as the number of times a student asked or answered a

question or provided information in Spanish without being individually nominated to

do so" (p. 13).

The students' linguistic aptitude was measured by the Short Form of the Modern

Language Aptitude Test. Their oral fluency and oral accuracy were measured via a

story-telling exercise. "Written correctness" was indicated by the numerical score on

the standard final written exam. Ely ascertained that a strong correlation exists

between classroom participation and willingness to take risks. He concluded that

"before some students can be expected to take linguistic risks, they must be made to

feel more psychologically comfortable and safe in their learning environment" (p. 23).

Affective education in past second language pedagogy

As the above studies substantiate, the affective domain plays a significant role in

second language acquisition. Grittner (1990) concurred, alluding to the confluent

education movement of the 1970s. Although it never developed into a full-fledged

movement, the confluent education movement emphasized a philosophy that forms the








84

core of present-day second language acquisition theory. Proponents bid "students to

examine, explore, and express their feelings as a basis for learning a foreign

language" (p. 29).

Pedagogical strategies of confluent education included student-oriented games,

interviews, simulations, debates, and the like. The students, who were encouraged to

share their own perspectives on issues, were active participants in classroom exercises.

The student-centeredness of this philosophy is reflected below in a summarization of

its goals by Galyean (1976):

1. Use of student output as the basis for language practice. This personal
content may be either cognitive (ideas, thoughts, theories) or affective
(feelings, interests, values, concerns, images).
2. High levels of student interaction and conversation.
3. The exploration of feelings and the sharing of personal affective content.
4. Awareness of "here and now" events both within an individual and within
the class. (p. 202)

Studies have yielded evidence in support of confluent education in second

language acquisition (Galyean, 1977; Jarvis & Hatfield, 1971; Savignon, 1972;

Schulz, 1977). The studies by Savignon (1972), Jarvis and Hatfield (1971), and

Schulz (1977) were all comparative studies in which one group of students was taught

via confluent education methodology and another group was exposed to traditional

textual referent instruction. There was a consensus of results among the studies: The

confluently-instructed students attained significantly higher scores on tests of oral and

written communicative competence than students taught via traditional, text-based

instruction.








85

Additional benefits of confluent education were discerned in studies conducted by

Galyean (1977). One investigation assessed the linguistic skills of university students

in a Level One French class, while the linguistic capabilities of junior and senior high

school French and Spanish students were examined in a latter study. Both studies

indicated that not only did confluently-taught students achieve significantly higher

scores on oral and written communicative competence tests, they also showed "greater

growth in self-identification, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and attitudes

toward the class" (Galyean, 1979).

Curran's (1976) counseling-learning approach, another technique that never

attained great popularity but which has influenced current second language

methodology, also stressed the inextricable relationship between affect and language

acquisition. This approach was "based on the principle that eliminating emotional

blocks to learning [an inference could be made to Krashen's affective filter] is a key

factor in language acquisition" (Grittner, 1990, p. 29). The counseling-learning

technique emulated an actual group counseling session, in that students were seated in

supportive circles and were assisted by a teacher translator in expressing their concerns

to each other. Of utmost importance was the provision of a supportive and positive

climate. Once such an environment was established, second language acquisition

would naturally ensue (Curran, 1976).


Summary

Second language acquisition theory has thus been influenced by perspectives from

diverse disciplines-linguistics, education, sociology, and psychology. Although some










tenets of the theory are issues of contention, such as Krashen's silent period and the

learning-acquisition distinction, the general conclusion underlying the preponderance

of research is that second language acquisition is greatly facilitated by exposure to

comprehensible input in a nonthreatening linguistic environment. As Krashen (1982)

has maintained:

The true causative variables in second language acquisition derive from the
input hypothesis and the affective filter the amount of comprehensible inut
the acquirer receives and understands, and the strength of the affective filter,
or the degree to which the acquirer is 'open' to the input. (p. 9)

The addition of an interaction variable to the input-affective filter equation has

been proposed by numerous researchers (Bissex, 1981; Cortese, 1987; Neu, 1991;

Rivers, 1983, 1986; Stern, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981; Strong, 1983; Wells,

1981). Although he has hailed the superior role of comprehensible input, Krashen

(1985a) has conceded that comprehensible output and interaction can also benefit

acquisition, as they serve to elicit comprehensible input from one's conversational

partner.

Neu (1991), who has examined the roles of input, interaction, and attitudes and

motivation on second language acquisition, has maintained that input and interaction

are covert catalysts for positive motivation and attitudes. Expressed in the following

passage is a view that has been shared by many of the researchers cited above:

Adequate and appropriate input and interaction are necessary components
for maintaining a positive attitude and high motivation. Sustaining a
positive attitude and increasing or maintaining motivation leads to SLA
[second language acquisition], which in turn encourages learners to pursue
adequate and appropriate input and interaction. (Neu, pp. 427-428)










In conclusion, current second language acquisition theory maintains that the

inextricable influences of attitude, motivation, input, and interaction on language

acquisition must be considered in the design and implementation of second language

instruction.


Implementation of Second Language Acquisition Theory
in the Second Language Classroom


The Natural Approach

The manifestation of second language acquisition theory as proposed by Krashen

(1982) can be found in its purest form in the Natural Approach, an instructional

method initially posited by Terrell (1977). This approach has since been heavily

influenced by and articulated with second language theory as evidenced by the

collaboration of Krashen and Terrell on The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition

in the Classroom (1983). This publication "has had especially widespread appeal

because, among other things, it reflects both second and foreign language teaching

concerns emanating from the backgrounds of its authors" (Pica, 1991, p. 399).

The Natural Approach (Krashen & Terrell, 1983) seeks to "bind" messages with

semantic associations in order to facilitate comprehension and retention of a

communication. This goal is accomplished by accompanying the message with

physical responses, visual aids, active student participation, and other paralinguistic

activities in a meaningful context. Repeated pairing of the message and contextual

stimuli strengthens the association, or bond, between the two. The concept of

"binding" has been aptly illustrated by Carroll (1974) in the following passage:










The general principle would be that a meaning that is richly endowed
with concrete situational content is more likely to be learned and
attached to the corresponding pattern than one that is abstract or
endowed with little situational content. (p. 136)

The Total Physical Resonse

Physical responses and active student participation in the Natural Approach

frequently assume the form of the Total Physical Response (TPR), which requires the

students' physical involvement in the execution of commands uttered in the target

language. Asher (1966, 1969, 1977), who developed TPR, advocated that second

language acquisition be founded upon a model of first language acquisition processes.

Moreover, he stressed the importance of the right hemisphere of the brain in language

development. He professed that infants receive some of their first stimuli in the form

of parental commands. However, because the right hemisphere of the brain is

incapable of speech production, infants indicate their comprehension of the input by

kinetic reaction to the stimuli. He emphasized that left brain activities (inclusive of

speech) can commence only when the right hemisphere has been sufficiently activated

via physical movement.

Asher has supported the trace theory of memory, which holds that memory

associations are formed between input and their meanings. The more deeply that

memory associations are traced into the learner's memory banks via repetitive

meaningful activities, the more acutely they are acquired-hence, retention is

facilitated.

Asher has also postulated some hypotheses that concur with those of Krashen. His

bio-program hypothesis proposes that listening comprehension skills develop prior to








89

readiness for speech production. According to Asher, children develop listening skills

by their physical response to verbalizations typically given in the form of parental

directives. Speech production naturally emerges following a period of listening

comprehension and can be expected only when children develop a readiness to speak.

Asher's brain lateralization hypothesis recommends that the right hemisphere be

initially tapped in second language instruction. The Total Physical Response, as it

requires the student to physically respond to imperatives supplied by the instructor, is

founded upon this hypothesis. Asher's final hypothesis, the stress-reduction

hypothesis, proposes that stress reduction in the learner will occur as long as

consideration is given to the student's bio-program for language development. That

is, the lowering of one's affective filter will be realized if instruction is coordinated

with the natural sequence of language acquisition as dictated by the student's bio-

program (Krashen, 1982).

The Total Physical Response consists of the physical execution of commands

given by the instructor. The students remain silent in the early stages of performing

the commands, but eventually initiate their own commands when they have developed

a readiness for speech production. The directives are meticulously sequenced in order

to introduce only three or four new expressions at a time. They progress from simple

requests to lexically and syntactically more complex imperatives.

The effectiveness of TPR in facilitating second language acquisition has been the

topic of research spanning a period of two decades (Asher, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1972;

Asher, Kusudo, & de la Torre, 1974; Swaffer & Woodruff, 1978; Wolfe & Jones,




Full Text
9
According to both middle school and second language acquisition theories, the
goal of increased positive student affect can be realized by means of contextualized,
affective, interactive, varied, relevant, cooperative, personalized, and experiential
instructional strategies in which the students are active, contributing participants
(Asher, 1977; Becker, 1990; Brazee, 1987; Curtain & Pesla, 1988; Johnson, 1989;
Kohut, 1976; Krashen, 1982; Krashen & Terrell, 1983; Met, n.d.; Rivers, 1987;
Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981). Since both philosophies espouse foremost the
development of a positive learning environment and advocate similar pedagogy in
realizing this end, this researcher sought to determine what influence, if any, the
simultaneous implementation of both philosophies within the middle school would
have on the language achievement of middle school Spanish I students. The middle
schoolers achievement was compared to that of ninth grade Spanish I students, who
were exposed to a very different academic environment. Unlike the middle school
setting, the high school environment of the ninth graders was characterized by
departmentalization and a more formalized structure in which the emphasis was on the
delivery of the academic disciplines.
Statement of the Problem
This investigation was conducted to determine the effects of school affiliation on
student language achievement. Language achievement was assessed via measurement
of the four language skills: listening comprehension, writing, reading comprehension,
and oral. These skills were measured by the administration of a Spanish I Exam at


43
more positive than those of junior high pupils. The attitudinal scores, which were
obtained through the administration of the National Study of School Evaluation
Opinion Inventory, were particularly notable for factors associated with student-
teacher affiliations, student participation in school functions, and student perception of
the school climate.
The results of the preceding study were substantiated by the findings of an inquiry
undertaken by Sinclair and Zigarmi (1977-79). They were interested in assessing
whether attitudes toward school climate and instructors would be influenced by the
changing structural patterns of a mid-Western junior high school. The treatment and
control groups were drawn from the student population within the same building.
When the school opened in 1974, it was structured departmentally. Two years later,
experimentation with interdisciplinary teaming occurred with the creation of one
eighth grade team consisting of four teachers, one from each academic discipline.
This eighth grade team constituted the treatment group and a nonteamed eighth grade
group comprised the control group. It was found that perceptions of school climate of
students who were part of an interdisciplinary team were significantly more favorable
than those of nonteam students, as evidenced by the scores on the Perceptions of
School Environment Scale.
Early Research Findings; Academic Achigyemern
In addition to assessing the influence of the implementation of middle school
practices upon student attitudes, early research also sought to determine its effect on
student scholastic achievement. Scholastic achievement of sixth grade students was


42
Armstrongs conclusions were unsupported by Routt (1975), who conducted a
comparative study in which he evaluated the attitudes of sixth graders within a middle
school setting and sixth graders within an elementary school environment. The results
of a student attitudinal questionnaire indicated that no significant differences existed
between the two groups of sixth graders.
The results of a study conducted by Brown (1976) did not corroborate those of
Routt (1975). He measured student progress during the initial three years of the
implementation of the middle school concept in a school in Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania. The implementation was being gradually and systematically conducted.
As each stage was being introduced, its influence was assessed by student interviews
at the end of each school year, teacher and parent surveys, and the administration of
the Student Opinion Survey. Eighty percent of the student population indicated "that
the middle school did provide them with a meaningful learning program and that it
was a place where they felt comfortable in getting acquainted with previously
unknown students" (p. 8). Faculty and staff also demonstrated an improvement in
attitudes as each stage was initiated. Brown surmised that the instructional climate for
both students and school personnel is favorably affected by the introduction of the
middle school concept.
A study by Draud (1977) confirmed the relationship between school organization
and teacher and student attitudes toward school. In a study investigating the effect of
the organizational structure of middle schools and junior high schools on student
attitudes, Draud determined that middle school students attitudes were significantly


117
analysis had been conducted annually utilizing student response data acquired from the
administration of the Spanish I Final Exam each year. The committee had convened
annually to review that years item analysis and then to amend, delete, or add new
items to the item bank as necessary. All Spanish I teachers had been encouraged to
review the draft of the examination early in the spring of each year and make
recommendations for amendments.
The test development process ultimately yielded the Spanish I Final Exam that is
currently in use in Collier County. It is administered annually to all eighth graders
and high school students enrolled in Spanish 1. Private school students who have
completed Spanish I in eighth grade and who anticipate entering public high school
must also pass this examination in order to receive high school credit.
Permission to reproduce and utilize the Spanish I Final Exam was requested by
the researcher and granted by Schmelz. As it served as both a pretest and posttest in
this study, the Spanish I Final Exam was retitled Spanish I Exam. It assessed all four
language skills.
The listening comprehension and reading comprehension components were of
multiple-choice format. The listening comprehension section required that the
students, as a class, listen to sentences or short paragraphs on an audiocassette tape in
order to choose the correct answer (see Appendix B for excerpts). In the reading
comprehension segment, the students selected sentence completions, appropriate
grammatical structures, and responses to written questions (see Appendix C for
excerpts). They indicated their responses on an NCS answer sheet.


145
foreign language instructional experience than that exhibited by students at the high
school level.
In light of the findings of the study, it appears that middle school students not
only achieve at a level exceeding that of high school students; they also evidence more
favorable attitudes while doing so. This increase in positive affect in turn facilitates
further second language acquisition (Bialystok & Frohlich, 1977; Dulay & Burt, 1977;
Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982; Krashen, 1981; Stevick, 1976). The results indicate
that the implementation of both middle school and second language acquisition
philosophies within the middle school setting creates a learning environment conducive
to enhanced second language acquisition and attitude.
The key to the implications of this study lies in the instructional objective-that is,
desired level of proficiency--of the middle school foreign language program, as
dictated by administrative policy and conviction. If the educational goal is simply to
introduce learners to a foreign language and culture in order to pique student
curiosity, then a wheel or semester-long program would be in order.
However, if increased proficiency (with fluency ideally being the end result) is the
instructional objective, then the findings of this study favor the commencement of
serious second language instruction (i.e., Spanish I) at the middle school level instead
of delaying it until high school. The increased proficiency attained within the middle
school setting should allow the student, upon entrance into high school, to enroll
directly and perform successfully in Spanish II and ultimately to continue language
study at increasingly advanced levels.


29
6. Extensive advising and counseling
7. Continuous progress for students
8. Evaluation procedures compatible with early adolescent needs
9. Cooperative planning
10. Positive school environment.
Several of the above characteristics are discussed in greater detail in the ensuing
section of this literature review. The selection of the practices to be discussed was
made based upon their implementation within all of the middle schools in this study.
Middle School Practices
Educators Knowledgeable About and Committed to Transescents
Middle school faculties vary in their educational background and certification to a
greater degree than faculties at any other level of education (Epstein & Maclver,
1990). Some educators possess secondary certification, which generally comprises
grades 7-12 or the equivalent. Other teachers are certified in elementary education.
Still others possess K-12 certification.
The middle school faculty must be composed of instructors familiar with the
special needs and characteristics of this intermediate age group. Although middle
school methods courses within teacher education programs have been sparse,
universities are increasingly adding middle school certification courses to their
curriculum offerings. In addition, a number of teachers are being given the
opportunity to add middle school certification to their educators licenses through


APPENDIX D
PEARSON CORRELATION COEFFICIENTS OF PREDICTOR AND
CRITERION VARIABLES FOR REGRESSION ANALYSES
PRlist
PRwrit
PRread
PRoral
Plist
Pwrit
Pread
Poral
GPA
SES FLAQ
School
-.30
-.26
-.25
-.20
-.45
-.38
-.55
-.39
-.37
.01
-.30
PRlist
--
.55
.57
.59
.57
.57
.49
.51
.13
.16
.20
PRwrit
--
.49
.61
.38
.50
.48
.44
.06
.17
.08
PRread
--
.54
.39
.48
.43
.47
.21
.01
.15
PRoral
--
.42
.46
.38
.44
.13
.21
.00
Plist
-
.62
.64
.44
.42
.03
.35
Pwrit
--
.79
.61
.44
.10
.53
Pread
--
.66
.51
.08
.53
Poral
-
.28
.15
.45
GPA
--
-.09
.37
SES
-
.06
Notes. The correlation coefficients denote zero-order correlations.
School and SES are dummy variables. School is coded 0 for middle school and 1 for high
school. SES is coded 0 for high SES and 1 for low SES.
The prefixes PR and P before each component of the Spanish I Exam indicate Pretest and
Posttest, respectively. For example, PRlist denotes Pretest listening comprehension.
154


99
recently become popularized in the area of second-language education (Knerr &
James, 1991, p. 55).
The middle school goal of effecting a positive school climate coincides with the
second language aspiration of lowering the affective filter. Both goals reflect the
significance of affect in the acquisition of instructional content. Middle school
educators seek to cultivate a positive environment by the development of a student-
centered curriculum that attends to the cognitive, biological, and socioemotional needs
of the student. The creation of a nonthreatening atmosphere is also facilitated within
middle schools by the implementation of advisement and counseling programs such as
homerooms and advisor-advisee groups (Alexander & George, 1981; Burkhardt &
Fusco, 1986; Epstein & MacIver, 1990; James, 1986; Maclver, 1990; Swick &
Gatewood, 1978). In addition, instructional procedures based upon interactive,
relevant, student-oriented activities that require substantial learner involvement have
been found to be significant contributors to a positive school climate (Becker, 1990;
Brazee, 1987; Johnson, 1989; Kohut, 1976).
In second language classes, the affective filter can similarly be lowered by
engaging students in meaningful, personalized, contextualized and riveting
communicative exercises in which the students are active participants (Asher, 1977,
1982; Gaarder, 1967; Galyean, 1976, 1977, 1979; Krashen, 1982; Krashen & Terrell,
1983; Moskowitz, 1981; Rivers, 1987; Savignon, 1983; Schulz & Bartz, 1975;
Synder & DeSelms, 1982; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981). "Through meaningful
personal involvement, both linguistic and communicative competence are strengthened


138
GPA was found to be significantly related to attitude toward the foreign language
learning experience (I = 4.07, df = 162, p< .01). At test on the relationship
between SES and attitude, however, did not yield significance (I = 1.34, df = 162,
p> .05).
Summary
The results of the regression analyses indicated many statistically significant
relationships. There was a significant relationship between school affiliation and each
of the criterion variables: posttest listening comprehension, posttest writing skill,
posttest reading comprehension, posttest oral skill, and attitude toward the foreign
language learning experience. Adjusted mean score for middle school students on
each criterion variable was significantly greater than that for high school students.
Pretest scores for each section of the Spanish I Exam were found to be a reliable
predictor of performance on the corresponding section of the posttest. Finally, the
results indicated that GPA was positively related to scores on the FLAQ and scores on
each posttest measure.


63
Cross (1977) investigated the complexity of input directed at children between the
ages of 19 and 32 months who had been identified as rapid language acquirers. The
speech data were hour-long audio- and video-taped recordings of spontaneous mother-
child discourse. Supplemental data consisted of written notations of phonetic and
contextual information recorded by Cross or her assistant concurrent with each taping.
Cross found some indication of rough syntactic tuning of speech to the childs
level of comprehension. The caretaker speech input correlated with the childs output
(l=.56, p< .05) and with the childs level of understanding (£=.75, p< .01). Cross
concluded that:
The syntax of mothers, even to rapidly developing children, is not uniformly
pitched just a step ahead of the child in either linguistic or psycholinguistic
complexity. Some utterances are pitched at the childs level, some even below
this, and others are considerably in advance of what the children themselves
can say. (p. 180)
The significance of this study is that the children had apparently been subjected to
much comprehensible input. According to Cross, 72% of the input dealt referred to
the "here and now, 55% constituted a reaction to a childs previous utterance, 6%
consisted of one-word verbalizations, 8% related to "simple stock phrases," and 2%
was indecipherable. She also noted that there appeared to be much authentic
communication and comprehensible input between the children and adults: The
children and the mothers were found to be almost equal contributors to the
conversations. As noted by Cross, "If children acquire the form of language through
the process of comprehension, then the mothers of rapidly acquiring children seem to
make it easy for them to do so" (pp. 171-172).


74
(the richness of the soil), and the extraneous variables that are beyond ones control
(the weather).
Stevick continued his thesis, affirming the additional need to attend to the "the
boulder and the weeds-ego-defense reactions of withdrawal and aggression" (p. 112)
of the learners. In order to promote receptive learning, instructors must possess an
awareness of these defense mechanisms both in themselves and in their charges and
the rationale behind their existence. For input to strike more deeply, threats to the
students psyche must be diminished by the establishment of a non-threatening climate;
once one is off the defensive, ones receptivity to input is greatly enhanced (Stevick,
1976). Rivers (1987) concurred: "Once students feel appreciated and valued, they
are anxious to show what they can do, to propose and participate in activities" (p. 10).
Studies have indicated the existence of various affective factors that correlate with
successful second language acquisition (Bialystok & Frohlich, 1977; Brown, H.,
1977; Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982; Dunkel, 1947; Gardner & Lambert, 1972;
Gardner, Smythe, Clement, & Gliksman, 1976; Heyde, 1977; Krashen, 1981;
Naiman, Frohlich, Stem, & Todesco, 1978; Oiler, Hudson, Sc Liu, 1977; Wittenbom,
Larsen, & Mogil, 1945). These affective variables can be generally categorized as
follows:
(1) Motivation [and attitudinal factors]. Performers with high motivation
generally do better in second language acquisition. . .
(2) Self-confidence. Performers with self-confidence and a good self-image
tend to do better in second language acquisition.
(3) Anxiety. Low anxiety appears to be conducive to second language
acquisition, whether measured as personal or classroom anxiety, (p. 31,
Krashen, 1982)


REFERENCES
Agresti, A., & Agresti, B.F. (1979). Statistical methods for the social sciences
San Francisco, CA: Dellen Publishing Company.
Alexander, W.M. (1984). The middle school emerges and flourishes. In J. H.
Lounsbury (Ed.), Perspectives: Middle school education. 1964-1984 (pp. 14-29).
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Alexander, W.M.,& George, P.S. (1981). The exemplary middle school. New
York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Allen, E.D. (1987). The teacher as catalyst: Motivation in the classroom. In F.M.
(Ed.), Smdent-mMvatiQn and the foreign language teacher (pp. 1-10).
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Anderson, R., Reynolds, R., Schallert, D., & Goetz, E. (1977). Frameworks for
comprehending discourse. American Educational Journal. 14, 367-381.
Arhar, J. M. (1990). Interdisciplinary teaming as a school intervention to increase
the social bonding of middle level students. In J.L. Irvin (Ed.), Research in
middle level education (pp. 1-10). Columbus, OH: National Middle School
Association.
Armstrong, S.J. (1975). Selected Ohio middle schools: An analysis of students1
perceptions of the educational environment (Doctoral dissertation, Bowling
Green State University, Bowling Green, OH). Dissertation Abstracts
International, 4884A.
Asher, J. (1965). The strategy of total physical response: An application to learning
Russian. International Review of Applied Linguistics. 3, 292-299.
Asher, J. (1966). The learning strategy of the total physical response: A review.
Modern Language Journal. 5Q, 79-84.
Asher, J. (1969). The total physical response approach to second language learning.
Modern Language Journal, 53, 3-17.
155


125
accents vary, this procedure, if followed in the present study, would have created an
opportunity for the confounding of results. Hence, in order to minimize any effect
that teacher accent might have had on the students comprehension of the auditory
stimuli, a single Spanish speaker was audiotaped reading the stimulus phrases. This
tape was copied and distributed with the Spanish I Exam to be utilized during the
administration of the listening comprehension section.
Scoring Procedures of Student Responses
In an attempt to minimize potential evaluator bias, the student responses to the
instruments were not scored by the teachers who administered the testing instruments.
The responses were retrieved by the researcher and delivered elsewhere for
assessment, as described below.
Spanish I Exam
The NCS answer sheets for the listening comprehension and reading
comprehension sections were delivered for scoring to the University of Florida Office
of Instructional Resources-Scanning Services. To attain a student score for each
component, the number of correct responses within each section was tallied. Each
correct response was worth one point.
Student responses to the writing and oral components of the exam were distributed
to the same evaluators that had participated in the determination of interscorer
reliabilities. Holistic assessment was accomplished during work sessions over the
course of two days. A score was computed for each component, each of which was


CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
The purpose of this investigation was to examine whether the philosophical and
structural differences in school setting influenced the level of language competency
attained by middle school eighth graders and high school ninth graders enrolled in
Spanish I classes. Competency in all four language skills-listening comprehension,
reading comprehension, speaking, and writingwas measured. Possible differences
between the two groups in attitude toward their foreign language learning experience
were also assessed. Also included in the data analysis as independent variables were
student pretest scores, SES, and GPA, variables that might have influenced
performance on the assessment measures. All variables were quantitative variables,
except for school affiliation and SES, which were dummy variables. School affiliation
was coded 0 for middle school and 1 for high school. SES was coded 0 for high SES
and 1 for low SES.
To test the hypotheses proposed in Chapters 1 and 3, a comparative correlational
design employing a multiple regression analysis model was utilized. Examination of
the residual plots for each regression indicated that all assumptions had been met. The
correlation coefficients on which the regression analyses were based can be found in
Appendix D.
130


40
student self-concept and academic achievement have been realized as a result of this
new philosophy. However, the results of more recent studies appear to support the
implementation of the middle school concept.
Early Research Findings: Student Attitudes
The bulk of the early research conducted to assess the effectiveness of the middle
school concept has been largely comparative in nature. It has focused on the
comparison of middle-level students in middle schools with those in junior high and/or
elementary schools. Rankin (1969) investigated the changes in attitudes of students in
a school system that, after operating under a junior high school arrangement, had been
converted to a middle school structure in 1967. Analysis of the results of attitudinal
measures yielded evidence that the middle school organizational pattern facilitates the
development of a healthier student attitude.
Trauschke (1970), after assessing the attitudes of students in middle school,
elementary school, and junior high school settings, also concluded that middle school
organization and curriculum enhance student attitudes. Within each grade level of
middle school, the students felt more positive toward themselves, their peers, their
instructors, and their school than did students in the other two school structures. The
findings of Schoo (1973), who evaluated the attitudes of students in 16 middle schools
and 15 junior high schools, also indicated that attitudes toward school are significantly
more favorable within a middle school setting than within the junior high organization.


78
Svanes determined that no correlation exists between integrative motivation and
language acquisition. He did acknowledge, though, that the bulk of his research
involved highly-motivated university students. He speculated that integrative
motivation may be relatively insignificant to university students, who are already well-
motivated.
The influence of student attitude toward the foreign language class and instructor
on language achievement has also been the focus of empirical studies (Bialystok &
Frohlich, 1977; Naiman et al., 1978; Richard-Amato, 1987). The effects of learning
environment on the language achievement of ninth and tenth graders in French classes
in Toronto was investigated by Bialystok and Frohlich (1977). The four variables
selected for examination were language aptitude, attitude and motivation, field
independence, and use of learning strategies. These factors were measured via the
Modern Language Aptitude Test, Gardner and Smythes National Test Battery for
attitude and motivation, the Hidden Figures Test for field independence, and a
learning style questionnaire developed by the researchers. The International
Educational Achievement Test of French was employed to assess language
competency. A significant finding of the study was that attitude, constituted by
integrative orientation, motivational intensity, and evaluation of the learning situation,
is primary in predicting language competency.
Naimon et al. (1978) continued the assessment of the language acquisition of
students studying French as a second language in Toronto. Interviews conducted with
the students on a one-on-one basis provided a measure of the students general


76
significantly greater linguistic proficiency than their instrumentally-motivated
counterparts (Gardner, 1959; Gardner & Lambert, 1959; Gardner et al., 1976).
Gardner and Lambert (1959), in an effort to determine the comparative
importance of linguistic aptitude and specific motivational variables in second
language acquisition, examined the language achievement of 75 eleventh-grade high
school students in a French class in Montreal. The students completed a battery of
tests measuring verbal intelligence, linguistic aptitude, and an assortment of attitudinal
and motivational variables. Analysis of the intercorrelations between these measures
yielded two factors significantly related to language acquisition: linguistic aptitude and
a motivational variable. A significant positive correlation between the motivational
orientation index and language achievement indicated that integrative motivation was a
greater predictor of achievement in French than instrumental motivation. These
findings were replicated by Gardner (1959), who extended the study to include 83
tenth graders enrolled in French.
The importance of integrative motivation in language acquisition was again
validated in a similar study by Gardner et al. (1976). Assessment of the performance
of students in grades seven through 11 enrolled in French in Montreal found
integrative motivation to be a better predictor of competency in French than
instrumental motivation. The results also indicated that integrative motivation
influences classroom behavior. Integratively-motivated students offered to answer
questions more frequently, provided a greater degree of correct responses, and
received more teacher praise than non-integratively motivated students.


165
Lemer, B. (1986). Student self-esteem and academic excellence. The Education
Digest. 52 (1), 32-35.
Levine, D.E., Levine, R.F., & Eubanks, E. (1984). Characteristics of effective
inner-city intermediate schools. Phi Delta Kappan. 65, 707-711.
Lipsitz, J. (1984). Successful schools for young adolescents. New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction Books.
Long, M. (1981). Input, interaction, and second language acquisition. In H. Winitz
(Ed.), Native and foreign language acquisition (pp. 259-278). New York: New
York Academy of Sciences.
Long, M. (1983). Linguistic and conversational adjustments to nonnative speakers.
Studies in second language acquisition. 5, 177-193.
Long, M. (1985). Input and second language acquisition theory. In S. Gass &
Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 377-393). Rowley,
MA: Newbury House.
Long, M., & Porter, P. (1985). Group work, interlanguage talk, and second
language acquisition. TESOL Quarterly. 12, 207-27.
Lounsbury, J. (1991). As I see it. Columbus, OH: National Middle School
Association.
Lounsbury, J., & Vars, G.E. (1978). A curriculum for the middle School years.
New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.
MacIver, D.J. (1990). Meeting the needs of young adolescents: Advisory groups,
interdisciplinary teaching teams, and school transition programs. Phi Delta
Kappa. 71, 458-464.
McDonough, L. (1991). Middle level curriculum: The search for self & social
meaning. Middle School Journal, 22 (2), 29-35.
McEwin, K.C., & Clay, R. (1983). Middle level education in the United States: A
national comparative study of practices and programs of middle and junior high
schools. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University.
McGroarty, M. (1989). The benefits of cooperative learning arrangements in second
language instruction. NABE Journal. 12 (2), 127-143.
McLaughlin, B. (1979). The Monitor Model: Some methodological considerations.
Language Learning. 28 (2), 309-32.


144
GPA
The findings of the data analysis indicated that GPA was positively related to both
language achievement and attitude toward the foreign language learning experience.
This was to be expected, as students who are successful scholastically tend to perform
well in the majority of their courses, including foreign language.
SES
The multiple linear regression analysis did not substantiate the influence of
socioeconomic status on language proficiency and on attitude toward the foreign
language learning experience. Coleman et al. (1965) contended that "socioeconomic
factors bear a strong relation to academic achievement" (p. 21). The results were not
supportive of such a relationship. The absence of an SES effect may have been due to
the relatively small percentage of low SES students enrolled in Spanish I classes: Low
SES students constituted only five percent of the middle school students and five
percent of the high school students.
Implications
The results of this investigation provide important implications for educational
administrators and foreign language educators. School affiliation did have a
differential effect on second language achievement and on attitude toward the foreign
language learning experience. The level of achievement demonstrated by middle
school students in all four language areas was superior to that of high school students.
Furthermore, middle schoolers possessed a more favorable attitude relative to their


49
Brooklyn, Watts, the Bronx, and Detroit were identified as exhibiting higher than
average scholastic achievement. Scrutiny of the schools attributes indicated that all of
the schools had undergone radical structural reorganization in order to create a more
personalized environment. Central to the reorganization procedure was the
development of interdisciplinary teams, advisory programs, and other such
components whose primary purpose was to attend to the socioemotional needs of the
adolescents.
Summary
Although the literature provides mixed reviews concerning the effectiveness of the
implementation of the middle school concept, the bulk of recent research tends to be
supportive. Overall, the findings of most of the studies appear to indicate that student
achievement, attitude, and general well-being are enhanced by the middle school
structure.
The tenets espoused by middle school proponents bear a semblance to those
advocated by current second language acquisition theorists. Hence, the following
section of this literature review is dedicated to the principles and practices proposed by
current second language acquisition theory.
Second, Language Acquisition Theory
Second language instruction, particularly at the elementary and middle school
levels, has been considerably influenced by Krashens second language acquisition
theory. Krashen (1982), who has proposed that second language acquisition resembles


19
context, the terms "second language" and "foreign language" will be used
interchangeably.
Target language denotes the language that is being taught within the foreign
language class.
Wheel courses are exploratory courses that are short-term in nature (less than a
semester in duration). Upon completion of one wheel course, students move into
another wheel course in the exploratory wheel program.
Delimitations
This study was delimited by the boundaries of Brevard County, Duval County, St.
Johns County, and Volusia County, the four Florida school districts that participated
in the present investigation. High school and middle school Spanish teachers had been
sent descriptions of the study and a request for their involvement. Most of the
teachers selected for the study had expressed an interest to be involved in the study.
All of the teachers taught at least one class of Spanish I and were employed at either a
middle school or high school.
The students were eighth graders at the middle school level and ninth graders at
the high school level who were enrolled in Spanish I. The students came from all
socioeconomic levels and diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Limitations
Due to the researchers inability to find an exam in another foreign language that
was comparable to the Spanish I Exam in terms of structure, administration, and


APPENDIX C
SPANISH I EXAM EXCERPTS
PART III READING COMPREHENSION
CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE WORD OR PHRASE TO COMPLETE EACH
SENTENCE.
Qu tienes?
A. Juana B. gordo
est el mercado?
A. Cul B. Adonde
Mi amigo en una gran ciudad.
A. vivo B. viven C. vives D. vive
Nosotros estudiando para el examen de espaol,
A. estn B, estamos C. ests D. estoy
C. una bolsa
C. Dnde
READ THE PARAGRAPHS AND ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.
Julio Iglesias es espaol, pero tiene millones de admiradores por todo el mundo.
Muchas personas, jvenes y viejas, compran sus discos. Era (he was) jugador de ftbol
en un equipo profesional. Despus de tener un accidente de carro, no puede jugar ms.
Entonces empieza a cantar y tocar la guitarra en el hospital.
Ahora Julio, guapo, simptico y divertido, es el cantante hispnico ms popular de
todos los tiempos y gana mucho dinero.
A quines les gusta la msica de Julio?
A. solamente a los jvenes
B. solamente a los espaoles
C. a todas las personas
153


18
2. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest
writing skill.
3. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest
reading comprehension.
4. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest oral
skill.
5. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and attitude
toward the foreign language learning experience.
Definition of Terms
Concrete/contextualized referent refers to "anything that can be seen, heard, felt,
smelled, or touched by the learner that clarifies the meaning of what is said to the
learner" (Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982, p. 276).
Middle schools in this study are defined as schools composed of sixth grade
through eighth grade. Their organizational pattern has been developed specifically to
attend to the cognitive, physical, and socioemotional needs of the transescent.
Rubric refers to descriptive guidelines utilized in holistic assessment. A rubric
typically consists of several paragraphs describing criteria against which a student
performance is to be evaluated.
Second language refers to a language that is learned or acquired after the native
language has been acquired. It can also refer to any additional language that is
acquired by the learner. The term is employed in this manner in this study. In this


136
significant relationship was found between SES and posttest reading comprehension
0= 1.93, df = 162, p>.05).
Hypothesis 4: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest oral skill.
The computed | statistic for the relationship between school affiliation and posttest
oral skill was 1(162) = -3.68, which was significant at the .01 level (see Table 4-6).
The null hypothesis was rejected. The parameter estimate of -1.79 indicated that the
mean score for high school students on the posttest oral section, controlling for the
other predictor variables, was 1.79 points less than that for middle school students.
Table 4-6
Oral Skill
Source
df
Parameter Estimate
Standard Error
1
School
1
-1.79
0.49
-3.68**
Oral Pretest
1
0.35
0.07
5.17**
GPA
1
0.74
0.37
2.02*
SES
1
1.40
1.01
1.38
Note. The overall test of significance was F = 18.40 with df = 4,159.
*p< .05. **p< .01.
As can also be noted in Table 4-6, pretest oral skill and GPA were each found to
be significantly related to posttest oral skill (1162><01 = 5.17 and t162 05 = 2.02,


172
Swick, K., & Gatewood, T. (1978). Developing a learning climate which is both
affective and accountable. Middle School Journal. 2, 10-11.
Terrell, T. (1977). A natural approach to second language acquisition and learning.
Modern Language Journal. 61, 325-337.
Terrell, T. (1982). The natural approach to language teaching: An update. Modem
Language Journal. 66, 121-132.
Trauschke, E.M., Jr. (1970). An evaluation of a middle school by a comparison of
the achievement, attitudes and self-concept of students in a middle school with
students in other school organizations (Doctoral dissertation, University of
Florida). Dissertation Abstracts International, 22, 107A.
Tyrrell, R. (1990). What teachers say about cooperative learning. Middle School
Journal. 21 (3), 16-19.
VanPatten, B. (1987). On babies and bathwater: Input in foreign language learning.
Modem Language Journal, 21 (2), 156-165.
Walsh, D. (1963). Articulation in the teaching of foreign languages. In Curricular
change in the foreign languages: 1963 colloquium on curricular change
(pp. 62-67). Princeton, NJ: College Entrance Examination Board.
Wayson, W.W., DeVoss, G.G. Kaeser, S.C., Lashley, T., Pinnell, S.S., & the Phi
Delta Kappa Commission on Discipline (1982). Handbook for developing schools
with good discipline. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa.
Wells, G. (1981). Learning through interaction: The study of language
development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wells, G. (1982). Language, learning, and education. Bristol: Centre for the Study
of Language and Communication, University of Bristol.
White, L. (1987). Against comprehensible input: The input hypothesis and the
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163
James, M. (1986). Advisor-advisee programs: Why, what and how. Columbus,
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Jarvis, G.A., & Hatfield, W.N. (1971). The practice variable: An experiment.
Foreign Language Annals. 4, 401-410.
Jefferson, G. (1972). Side sequences. In D. Sudnow (Ed.), Studies in social
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JeKenta, A.W., & Fearing, P. (1976). Current trends in curriculum: Elementary
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Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, R. T. (1991). Learning together and alone-
Cooperative. competitive and individualistic learning (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs,
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Johnson, J. (1989). Using the traditional curriculum to help students understand the
world. Middle School Journal, 21 (1), 50-51.
Johnson, M., Jr. (1962). School in the middle-junior high school: Educations
problem child. Saturday Review. 45, 40-42.
Johnson, P. (1981). Effects on reading comprehension of language complexity and
cultural background. TESOL Quarterly. 15. 169-181.
Johnson, P. (1982). Effects on reading comprehension of building background
knowledge. TESOL Quarterly. 16, 503-516.
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Bacon, Inc.


72
high affective filter. The input will not strike "deeply," (Stevick, 1976) and hence,
will not be retained.
Conversely, the more the students are "off the defensive" (Stevick, 1976), the
greater will be the degree of acquisition. The affective filter is lowered when the
linguistic setting is nonthreatening. The towering of the affective filter triggers the
activation of the language acquisition device (LAD). The LAD, denoted "the mental
organ devoted to language" (Chomsky, 1975; Krashen, 1985a), affords one a
readiness for language acquisition. When the LAD is activated, the language acquirer
becomes receptive to input. The input will, in the terminology of Stevick (1976),
strike "deeper."
Stevick made frequent reference to the concept of "depth." He proposed that all
authentic communication lies below a hypothetical line. Beneath the parameters of
this line can be found emotional and cognitive associations with our basic necessities,
our most vivid memories, and our goals and ambitions. The lowest boundary of this
dimension extends far beyond our conscious perception. In order for input to strike
deeply and permeate this boundary, "we must . relate at least a part of the meaning
and structure [of the input) to meanings and structures that are already in our long
term memory" (p. 35).
Stevick also alluded to language students being "off the defensive." He made a
distinction between defensive learning and receptive learning and their importance in
second language acquisition. Defensive learning is analogous to the transmission
(Barnes, 1976; Wells, 1982) or banking (Freire, 1973, 1983) pedagogical model. In


169
Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., Ouston, J., & Smith, A. (1979). Fifteen
thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.
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Schoo, P.H. (1973, March 25-29). The optimum setting for the early adolescent:
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Meeting, Chicago, IL (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 086 907)
Schrag, P. (1970). End of the impossible dream. Saturday Review. 51 (38), 68-70.
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languages. Modem Language Journal, 61, 94-101.
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Company.
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school employing traditional and middle school concepts (Doctoral dissertation,
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1267A.
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Shavelson, R.J., & Webb, N.M. (1991). Generalizability theory-A primer.
Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.


54
acquisition order for 11 English functors-"the little function words that have at best a
minor role in conveying the meaning of a sentence: noun and verb inflections,
articles, auxiliaries, copulas and prepositions" (1974, p. 38). They found that the
children demonstrated a "natural order" in the acquisition of functors, regardless of
their native language. Although the childrens order of second language acquisition
differed from the acquisition order of their native language, separate groups of second
language acquirers yielded significant similarities in their order of acquisition of the
functors.
Monitor Hypothesis
According to the monitor hypothesis, acquisition and learning serve two very
different functions in second language proficiency. "Normally, acquisition initiates
our utterances in a second language and is responsible for our fluency. Learning has
only one function, and that is as a Monitor, or editor" (Krashen, 1982, p. 15). The
Monitor, as it is concerned with the correct application of grammatical rules and
structures, makes adjustments in our verbalizations.
Krashen (1982) has asserted that the following conditions must be present in order
to utilize the Monitor efficiently and effectively:
(i) Time. In order to think about and use conscious rules effectively, a
second language performer needs to have sufficient time. For most people,
normal conversation does not allow enough time to think about and use rules.
The over-use of rules in conversation can lead to trouble, i.e., a hesitant
style of talking and inattention to what the conversational partner is saying.
(ii) Focus on form. To use the Monitor effectively, time is not enough.
The performer must also be focussed on form, or thinking about correctness
(Ehilay and Burt, 1978). Even when we have time, we may be so involved
in what we are saying that we do not attend to how we are saying it.


95
Rivers (1992) has stressed the need for interactive language instruction and
learning in second and foreign language classes in order to promote effective language
acquisition. She has proposed ten guidelines by which interactive instruction/leaming
can be realized:
1. Responsibility for student progress belongs with the student. Student
motivation must emerge from within; the flame can be fanned, but the fire
must be ignited from within.
2. Pedagogical methodology and curriculum must be developed in accordance
with student needs and aspirations. Interactive instruction calls for a diversity
of teaching strategies and curriculum designs.
3. The communication of meaningful messages is the focus of all instructional
strategies.
4. Classrooms must reflect consideration and respect for one another, allowing
for the development of a non-threatening instructional climate. MTo stimulate
the interaction that leads to communication via language, both teachers and
students must work toward a nonthreatening atmosphere of cooperative
learning" (p. 379). The classroom should become, according to Crtese
(1987), "a sense of place . where people feel that they belong, that they
are accepted, and where, therefore, they are not under any kind of threat"
(p. 37).
5. Underlying language use is a mental schema of the way in which language
operates. Development of this schema occurs via the performance of


122
1. Analyses of variance for repeated measures (RBANOVAs) were run for the
holistic scoring of the oral and writing components of the Spanish I Exam. The
results from the RBANOVAs, as summarized in Tables 3-3 and 3-4, were then
utilized in the calculation of variance components for the rating, subject, and residual
terms (rating x subject interaction plus random error).
2. Generalizability theory (G theory) "distinguishes between decisions based on
the relative standing or ranking of individuals (relative interpretations) and decisions
based on the absolute level of their scores (absolute interpretations)" (Shavelson &
Webb, 1991, p. 84). As the scoring of the Spanish I Exam oral and writing
components was norm-referenced, absolute interpretations were not of consideration in
this study. Of interest were relative decisions, which are made under the assumption
that all variance components that affect the relative status of subjects contribute to
error. Interactions between each facet (or source of measurement error) and subject
constitute the variance components. Hence, the variance component for each residual
(or rating x subject interaction plus random error) term in Tables 3-3 and 3-4 was
utilized in the computation of generalizability indices.
The generalizability coefficients were computed via the generalizability formula:
+ ^res^'r)- The generalizability coefficients for one, two, and three raters
for the holistic scoring of the oral and writing components of the Spanish 1 Exam are
summarized in Table 3-5.


81
grammatical structures, "provides an interesting and thought-provoking exercise which
trains the student to look carefully at all structural clues and to range around within a
semantic field for related concepts" (Rivers, Azevedo, & Heflin, Jr., 1989, p. 261).
In the study conducted by Oiler et al., the students performance on the cloze test
was found to be associated with their self-perceptions. Students who described
themselves as "democratic, broad-minded, and calm" and those who characterized
themselves as "kind, friendly, not business-like, considerate, and helpful" attained
significantly higher scores on the cloze test than students who employed negatively-
connotive adjectives in self-descriptions. The researchers concluded that a direct
correlation exists between self-concept and language achievement, in that "the more
positive Ss self-concept, the higher Ss achievement in ESL" (p. 14).
Anxiety
In addition to self-confidence, anxiety has also been found to correlate with
language proficiency (Carroll, 1963; Dunkel, 1947; Ely, 1986; Gardner, etal., 1976;
Krashen, 1981; Naiman et al., 1978; Wittenbom et al., 1945). Wittenbom et al.
(1945), who studied college students in French and Spanish classes, administered an
extensive questionnaire consisting of items from three categories: personal or
emotional factors, knowledge of content, and study techniques. Scores in these three
areas were correlated with final examination and course grades. One of the major
findings of the study was that low achievers are characterized by high anxiety and low
self-confidence. Conversely, high achievers exhibit lower levels of anxiety and a
greater degree of self-confidence.


45
interdisciplinary teams, child-centered curriculum, and advisory groups. The other
school was departmentalized, subject-oriented, and nonthematic in instructional
strategy. It was found that students in the restructured school attained significantly
higher scores in reading and science on the SRA Achievement Series than students in
the departmentalized school.
Uter Studies: Comparative Studies
The effect of school structure on interracial relationships and attitudes among
students was investigated in a study conducted by Damico et al. (1982). They
observed student interaction and assessed student attitudes in six different middle
schools within one school district. All schools were comparable with the exception of
their structures. Two of the schools consisted of interdisciplinary teams and advisory
groups. The four other schools were departmentalized and offered no advisory
programs. It was found by means of attitudinal questionnaires and observations that,
in the schools with interdisciplinary teaming, interracial relationships were
significantly greater in number. Moreover, students in team-organized schools
exhibited a more favorable attitude toward school than students in nonteamed schools.
Arhar (1990) also examined the relationship between interdisciplinary teaming and
student interrelationships. She evaluated by means of the Social Bonding Scale from
the Wisconsin Youth Survey the social bonding of seventh graders in teamed and
nonteamed middle schools. She concluded that the students bonding to their peers,
their teachers, and their school were all significantly positively affected by teaming.


85
Additional benefits of confluent education were discerned in studies conducted by
Galyean (1977). One investigation assessed the linguistic skills of university students
in a Level One French class, while the linguistic capabilities of junior and senior high
school French and Spanish students were examined in a latter study. Both studies
indicated that not only did confluently-taught students achieve significantly higher
scores on oral and written communicative competence tests, they also showed "greater
growth in self-identification, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and attitudes
toward the class" (Galyean, 1979).
Currans (1976) counseling-learning approach, another technique that never
attained great popularity but which has influenced current second language
methodology, also stressed the inextricable relationship between affect and language
acquisition. This approach was "based on the principle that eliminating emotional
blocks to learning |an inference could be made to Krashens affective filter] is a key
factor in language acquisition" (Grittner, 1990, p. 29). The counseling-learning
technique emulated an actual group counseling session, in that students were seated in
supportive circles and were assisted by a teacher translator in expressing their concerns
to each other. Of utmost importance was the provision of a supportive and positive
climate. Once such an environment was established, second language acquisition
would naturally ensue (Curran, 1976).
Summary
Second language acquisition theory has thus been influenced by perspectives from
diverse disciplineslinguistics, education, sociology, and psychology. Although some


69
An important component of interactive teaching is the negotiation of meaning, an
interactive communicative process by which input can be rendered comprehensible
(Gass & Varonis, 1985; Long, 1985; Long & Porter, 1985; Pica, Young, & Doughty,
1987; Rivers, 1992; Savignon, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981; Swain, 1985).
Negotiation of meaning refers to the give and take in the form of linguistic
modifications, circumlocutions, repetitions, and nonverbal exchange between
interlocutors in order to facilitate comprehension. Gass and Varonis (1985) described
negotiations of meaning as "side sequences that are crucial to the success of the
discourse because they let participants maintain as well as possible equal footing in the
conversation" (p. 151). A side sequence denotes a break from the natural flow of the
communication (Jefferson, 1972). Equal footing refers to the ability of each
conversational partner to respond appropriately to the last verbalization of the other
partner. "When one or both interlocutors have slipped/ there is a need to regain
their place in a conversation and negotiation takes place (Gass & Varonis, p. 151).
Thus, although input is a necessary factor in the acquisition of a language, it is
sufficient only when accompanied by the negotiation of meaning (Gass & Varonis,
1985; Long, 1983; Pica et al., 1987; Porter, 1986; Strong, 1983).
Negotiated interaction has been found to enhance the comprehension of input
(Long, 1983; Pica et al., 1987; Swain, 1985). Pica et al. (1987) examined the
comprehension of language learners who were exposed to messages at different
linguistic levels. One group of learners, after hearing instructions to complete a task,
received the opportunity to solicit clarification of the directions. Another group heard


32
Cooperative learning requires that there exists positive social interdependence
between the students (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). The learners depend upon one
another in order to accomplish the specified task. The interdependence is one of equal
status in which each student feels nonthreatened and valued. The students are
provided with the opportunity to engage in face-to-face interaction in which they may
discuss the topic of interest without distraction. Each individual is held accountable to
the group as a group member.
At the termination of each cooperative learning activity, the students are afforded
the opportunity to analyze the dynamics of the group (Kagan, 1985). Johnson and
Johnson (1991) have stressed that effective group processing focuses both on the
members contributions to each others learning and to the maintenance of effective
working relationships among group members. During this group processing, the
students must be allowed to voice their opinions regarding the dynamics of the group
and to advance any suggestions for modifications that may enhance group efficacy in
the future.
A Comprehensive Exploratory Program
An exploratory program is one of the essential elements of a "true" middle school
(Brazee, 1987; Davis, 1987; Lounsbury, 1991; Schneider, 1986; Steffans, 1991). In
fact, Lounsbury (1991) went so far as to emphatically state; "The concept of
exploration is . central to and universal in the mission of the middle level school"
(p. 61). According to Steffans (1991), the exploratory curriculum is invaluable during
the middle years as it addresses three primary characteristics of the middle school


105
the school and only one Spanish I class. In the few schools where there existed two
Spanish I classes, the class was selected randomly.
Setting Descriptions
In an attempt to attain demographics about the schools and their student
populations, a brief survey was sent to each participating teacher, department head,
and/or guidance department. The survey requested information relative to the schools
socioeconomic status, student body composition, student enrollment, and school
structure (i.e., departmentalization, interdisciplinary teaming, other). An additional
section, to be completed solely by middle school teachers, inquired about the number
of years that Spanish I had been offered within the school curriculum, the status of
Spanish I as an elective, the prerequisites for enrollment in Spanish I, and the
existence of a homeroom period, advisor-advisee program, or any other analogous
program within the school. The data secured from the surveys is summarized in
Tables 3-1 and 3-2.
High Schools
Five Florida high schools in the counties of Brevard, Duval, St. Johns, and
Volusia were included in the study. The schools and Spanish I classes were selected
for inclusion on the basis of a willingness expressed by the Spanish I teachers to
participate in the study. The schools were also chosen because the participating
middle schools fed into those particular high schools. The demographics of the high
schools are presented in Table 3-1.


126
worth 16 points. In an effort to curtail possible evaluator bias, any information
identifying school affiliation was eliminated from the student response sheets prior to
their distribution to the raters.
The Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire
The raters also calculated the scores for each student on the Foreign Language
Attitude Questionnaire. Computation was effected by the summation of values
selected as responses to the 13 items of the questionnaire. Sums at the high extreme
of the scale (within the 78-91 range) were indicative of a very positive attitude; lower
sums represented a less favorable stance.
Experimental Design
The present study was a comparative correlational design employing a multiple
linear regression analysis model. A multiple linear regression analysis model is
indicated when there exist several predictor variables that might, either individually or
in combination, have an effect on a criterion variable (Agresti & Agresti, 1979; Borg
& Gall, 1989). The requirements for this model are as follows:
1. There is one dependent (or criterion) variable and two or more
independent (or predictor) variables.
2. All variables are continuous. [Note by Shavelson (p. 605): MRA
[Multiple regression analysis] is not restricted to the
continuous-variable case. One or more independent variables
can be nominal.]
3. The minimal sample size needed to provide adequate estimates
of the regression coefficients is something like 50 cases,
and a general rule of thumb is that there should be at least
about 10 times as many cases (subjects) as independent
variables. (Shavelson, 1988, p. 593)


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Cfmens L. Hallman; Chairman
Professor of Instruction and
Curriculum
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Lee J.^iullally )
Associate Professor of
Instruction and Curriculum
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Instruction and Curriculum
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
% twM
M. David Miller
Associate Professor of
Foundations of Education


100
as well as student self-esteem, and they in turn encourage greater meaningful, personal
involvement in the language learning process (Snyder & DeSelms, 1982, p. 3).
Lowering the affective filter can also be expedited by the minimization of overt
error correction of student utterances. Numerous second language proponents (Curtain
& Pesla, 1988; Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982; Krashen, 1981, 1982, 1985a;
Krashen & Terrell, 1983; Met, n.d.; Rivers, 1987) maintain that all student input,
whether accurate or fraught with error, be encouraged and accepted--without adverse
ramifications. With little fear of embarrassment or humiliation, students are more apt
to be "off the defensive"; as a result, their receptivity to input is greatly enhanced
(Stevick, 1976). Attitudinal considerations are accorded greater priority than language
considerations: "If the affective filter is up, no matter how beautifully the input is
sequenced, no matter how meaningful and communicative the exercise is intended to
be, little or no acquisition will take place" (Krashen, 1981, p. 110).
As middle school and second language acquisition philosophies profess similar
tenets, the question has been raised regarding what influence the dual presence of both
philosophies within the middle school setting might have on the language achievement
of middle school Spanish I students. JeKenta and Fearing communicated a similar
speculation in 1976: "In the language learning situation itself the middle school
concept can promote a better integration of language proficiency (use) with language
competency (understanding)" (p. 154). However, they expressed regret that, at that
time, few studies had addressed the development of linguistic competency within
middle school foreign programs. A review of the literature at the time of this study


110
the credit at the middle school level is determined by the policy of each Florida school
district.
The four counties represented in this study did not award the unit to middle school
students who completed the Spanish I course. Instead, upon completion of the course
at the end of eighth grade, the students had the option of directly enrolling in the
successive Spanish 11 course or re-enrolling in the Spanish I course when in high
school.
Data, Collection
During the week of pre-planning of the 1992-93 school year, the teachers were
contacted to determine the number of students enrolled in their participating Spanish I
classes and to finalize testing dates for the administration of the Spanish I Exam
pretest at the beginning of the 1992-93 school year. In an effort to maintain test
security, the test materials were sealed in a box and delivered to each participating
teacher the day prior to test administration.
Test administration required two class periods. Upon completion of testing, the
test materials were resealed in the box and retrieved by the researcher.
The above procedures were repeated in the spring of 1993, when the Spanish I
Exam was given as a posttest/final exam. However, in addition to completing the
exam, the students were requested to indicate their attitudes about their experiences in
their Spanish I class over the course of the 1992-93 school year. Their attitudes were
assessed by their responses to items on the Likert-style Foreign Language Attitude
Questionnaire. For the purposes of statistical analysis, the students were required to


55
(iii) Know the rule. This may be a very formidable requirement.
Linguistics has taught us that the structure of language is extremely
complex, and they claim to have described only a fragment of the best
known languages. We can be sure that our students are exposed only
to a small part of the total grammar of the language, and we know that
even the best students do not learn every rule they are exposed to.
(P- 16)
Krashen has recommended discretion in utilizing the Monitor. If there is
extensive and/or inappropriate employment of the Monitor, communication
interference or breakdown can occur. Excessive Monitor use can result "in the rise in
rank of items that are late-acquired in the natural order, items that the performer has
learned but not acquired" (Krashen, 1982, p. 18). Minimal usage of the Monitor is
advised, as this premature use of later-learned grammatical items runs contrary to the
natural progression of language acquisition proposed in the natural order hypothesis.
Input Hypothesis
Until recently, comprehensible input was not within the repertoire of second
or foreign language teachers. However, with the publication of The Natural
Approach (Krashen & Terrell, 1983), this term became synonymous with what
was considered the goal of effective language instruction. (Pica, 1991, p. 399)
Comprehensible input, according to Krashen (1985b), is "the true and only
causative variable in second language acquisition" (p. 60). Comprehensible input is
information that is understandable, even if it is a little beyond the students current
level of comprehension. The term understandable assumes a specific meaning in
Krashens second language acquisition theory. In this context, the term implies that
the language acquirers focus is on the meaning and not the structure of the
communication.


164
Knerr, J.L., & James, C.J. (1991). Partner work and small-group work for
cooperative and communicative learning. In L. Strasheim (Ed.), Focus on the
foreign language learner: Priorities and strategies (pp. 54-68). Lincolnwood, IL:
National Textbook Company.
Kohut, S., Jr. (1976). The middle school: A bridge between elementary and
secondary schools. Washington, DC: National Education Association of the
United States.
Kohut, S., Jr. (1988). The middle school: Bridge between elementary and high
schools. Washington, DC: National Education Association of the United States.
Krashen, S. (1980). The theoretical and practical relevance of simple codes in
second language acquisition. In R. Scarcella & S. Krashen (Eds.), Research in
second language acquisition (pp. 7-18). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Krashen, S. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning.
New York: Pergamon Press.
Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. New
York: Pergamon Press.
Krashen, S. (1985a). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. New York:
Longman Group Ltd.
Krashen, S. (1985b). Applications of psycholinguistic research to the classroom. In
C.J. James (Ed.), Practical applications of research in foreign language teaching
(pp. 51 -66). Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
Krashen, S., & Terrell, T. (1983). The Natural Approach; Language acquisition in
the classroom. New York: Pergamon Press.
Kunihara, S., & Asher, J. (1965). The strategy of the total physical response: An
application to learning Japanese. International Review of Applied Linguistics. 4,
277-389.
Lambert, W.E. (1961). A study of roles of attitudes and motivation in second
language learning (NDEA Contract No. 8517). Montreal: McGill University.
Lange, D.L. (1988). Articulation: A resolvable problem? In J.F. Lalande, II (Ed.),
Shaping the future of foreign language education; fles, articulation, and
proficiency (pp. 11-311. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
LeFrancois, G.R. (1984). The lifespan. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing
Company.


3
The premise upon which the middle school concept is built stresses the need to
assist students in understanding themselves as they undergo the tremendous emotional,
intellectual, and physical changes of pubescence. Due to their great feelings of
insecurity and inadequacy, these students need to experience as much success as
possible (George & Lawrence, 1982). In order to accommodate the students varied
learning styles, innovative and diverse teaching strategies are of paramount importance
during the middle grades. Becker (1990) has concurred: "It is particularly important
that schools serving the middle grades pay careful attention to the what and the how of
instructional practice, because early adolescents are developing long-term attitudes
toward the role of education in their lives" (p. 450).
Because the middle school has been structured specifically to meet the unique
needs of pubescents, its advocates propose that its students will, in general, develop
better attitudes and as a result, their academic achievement will improve. Since its
implementation in the early 1960s, the middle school has been the subject of much
controversy as to whether these results have indeed been evidenced.
The Effectiveness of the Mid.dk School
The findings of studies conducted within the decade following the implementation
of middle school philosophy are mixed as to whether increases in student attitudes and
academic achievement have been realized as a result of the introduction of the middle
school concept. In some of the earliest studies assessing middle school effectiveness
relative to student attitude (Armstrong, 1975; Brown, 1976; Draud, 1977; Rankin,
1969; Schoo, 1973; Sinclair & Zigarmi, 1977-79; Trauschke, 1970), researchers


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
The literature review is divided into three sections. The first section is a
presentation of research and literature pertinent to the middle school concept and the
effectiveness of the implementation of the middle school philosophy within middle
schools. The subsequent section discusses current second language acquisition theory
and methodological practices that are founded upon such theory. The final segment of
this chapter explains the manner in which current middle school pedagogy and second
language acquisition methodology may work together to influence language
achievement in a middle school foreign language class. In general, the literature
review is organized to address the following questions:
1. What constitutes the middle school concept?
2. What administrative, structural, and methodological practices would be
indicative of the implementation of the middle school concept within a middle
school?
3. How effective has the implementation of the middle school concept been?
4. What views are professed by current second language acquisition theory?
5. What pedagogical practices within foreign language classes are founded upon
current second language theory?
24


150
and GPA, but not SES, were reliable predictors of language achievement. Finally,
GPA and attitude toward the foreign language instructional experience were
significantly related, while no relationship was found between SES and attitude.


58
influence of visual organizers on the listening comprehension of students in college-
level German classes. Visual organizers are pictures, diagrams, and the like that are
presented with input in order to assist the student in the formulation of a mental
representation of the topic at hand. Evaluation of listening comprehension consisted
of a written free-recall synopsis in English by the students of a German passage that
had been presented orally. One group of students had been shown a visual before
hearing the passage, another group had viewed a visual after hearing the passage, and
a third group had been provided no visual. It was found that listening comprehension
was greatest for students who had viewed the visual prior to the presentation of the
passage. This finding was particularly enhanced for those students at lower
proficiency levels.
Omaggio (1979) conducted an intricate study in which the effects of "pictorial
contexts" on the comprehension of passages in both introductory college French and in
the students native language (English) were examined. The two independent
variables that were manipulated were "pictorial contextual organizers" and the type of
text that was provided. Six different levels of the contextual organizer were
introduced:
(1) no visual organizer was provided
(2) a single-object drawing depicting the title of the story to be read was
provided prior to exposure to the test
(3) a contextual picture was provided prior to reading depicting action from
the beginning of the story
(4) a contextual picture depicting action from the middle of the story was
provided prior to reading
(5) a contextual picture depicting action from the end of the story was
provided prior to reading
(6) all three contextual visuals were provided simultaneously prior to
reading. (Omaggio, 1986, pp. 105-106)


160
Dulay, H., & Burt, M. (1977). Remarks on creativity in second language
acquisition. In M. Burt, H. Dulay, & M. Finocchiaro (Eds.), Viewpoints on
English as a second language (pp. 95-126). New York: Regents.
Dulay, H., & Burt, M. (1978). Some guidelines for the assessment of oral language
proficiency and dominance. TESOL Quarterly. 12, 177-192.
Dulay, H., Burt, M., & Krashen, S. (1982). Language two. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Dunkel, H.B. (1947). The effect of personality on language achievement. Journal of
, 2S, 177-182.
Eichom, D.H. (1966). The middle school. New York: The Center for Applied
Research in Education, Inc.
Ely, C. (1986). An analysis of discomfort, risktaking, sociability, and motivation in
, 36, 1-25.
the L2 classroom.
Epstein, J.L. (1990). What matters in the middle grades-grade span or practices?
Phil Delta Kappan. 21 (6), 438-444.
Epstein, J.L., & Maclver, D.J. (1990). Education in the middle grades-National
practices and trends. Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association,
Erb, T.E. (1987). What team organization can do for teachers. Middle School
Journal. 1£, 3-6.
Fearing, P., & Grittner, F. (1974, November 27). Exploratory foreign language
programs in the middle school. Curriculum report prepared in ACTFL
Preconference Workshop for Foreign Language Consultants and Supervisors,
Denver, CO. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 104 174)
Feenstra, H.J. (1967). Aptitude, attitude, and motivation in second language
acquisition. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Western Ontario.
Ford, J.F., & Hassel, J.B. (1983). Focus on foreign language in the middle school:
A description of an NEH summer institute. (ERIC Document Reproduction
Service No. ED 318 263)
Freire, P. (1973). Education for critical consciousness. New York: Seabury.
Freir, P. (1983). Banking education. In H. Giroux & D. Purpel (Eds.), The
hidden curriculum and moral education: Deception or discovery? (pp. 283-291).
Berkeley, CA: McCutcheon Publishing Corporation.


5
Current Second Language Acquisition Theory
Current second language acquisition theory shares with middle school philosophy
its emphasis on positive affect as a prerequisite to achievement. Second language
instruction, particularly at the elementary and middle school levels, has been
considerably influenced by second language acquisition theorist Krashen (1982).
According to Krashen, ones second language acquisition is facilitated or hindered by
what he terms ones "affective filter." The filter is a mental regulator that prevents or
facilitates the complete utilization of input that acquirers of a language receive for
language acquisition. When students are anxious, hostile, or uncomfortable, their
affective filter goes up. Although students may comprehend what is being said to
them in the target language, they may not absorb it well because of the high affective
filter. They will also tend to seek less input.
Conversely, the more students are "off the defensive" (Stevick, 1976), the better
the acquisition. When students feel nonthreatened, the affective filter is lowered. At
this point, the language acquisition device (LAD) can be activated. According to
Krashen, the language acquisition device is a cognitive entity that allows one to have a
readiness for language acquisition. When the LAD begins functioning, the individual
becomes receptive to second language acquisition.
The lowering of the learners affective filter can be facilitated by the provision of
comprehensible input within the foreign language class (Krashen, 1982).
Comprehensible input is material that is understandable, even if it is a little beyond
the students current level of comprehension. This schema is denoted by "i + 1," the


12
Measures obtained from the Spanish I Exam and the Foreign Language Attitude
Questionnaire were utilized to address the following research questions:
1. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and listening comprehension?
2. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and writing skill?
3. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and reading comprehension?
4. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and oral skill?
5. Is there a relationship between school affiliation and attitude toward the
foreign language learning experience?
Significance of the Study
As stated earlier, the number of middle schools has continued to grow. In
addition, an increasing number of middle schools have been opting to implement a
year-long Spanish course that adheres to the Florida Department of Education
Curriculum Frameworks for Spanish I, Course No. 0708340. This course is identical
to that offered at the high school level. With the growing number of middle schools
and "with increasing emphasis on longer sequences of foreign-language study . .
adequate articulation of foreign-language courses is one of the first desiderata of
modem curricular reform" (Walsh, 1963, p. 62). More recently, Curtain and Pesla
(1988) have indicated the need for the full participation of foreign language teachers at
all levels in the building of a successful, sequential, well-articulated program.
Successful articulation is necessary in order to encourage and augment the continuous
development of linguistic skills (Fearing & Grittner, 1974; Phillips, 1989).


53
structure being taught. Krashen has thus recommended the exclusion of explicit
grammar instruction in second language classes.
There are a number of studies that lend credibility to the natural order hypothesis.
Brown (1973) conducted a longitudinal investigation of morpheme production of
children acquiring English as a first language. Transcriptions of the spontaneous
discourse between the children and their mothers (and periodically others) within their
homes were the primary data of the study. Brown examined the childrens mean
length of utterance (MLU), which he claimed is "an excellent simple index of
grammatical development because almost every new kind of knowledge increases
length" (p. 53). A particular morpheme was considered to be acquired when it
occurred in 90% or more of a childs speech samples. Brown determined that
children tended to acquire grammatical morphemes, the smallest meaning-bearing
linguistic unit, in a particular sequence.
De Villiers and de Villiers (1973) performed a cross-sectional analysis of Browns
study with 21 English-speaking children from ages 16 months to 40 months. Speech
samples of the children were selected from two 1 1/2-hour play periods and mean
length of utterance was computed for each child. It was determined that the order of
acquisition of grammatical morphemes correlated very highly with that found in
Browns longitudinal study.
Dulay and Burt (1974, 1975) conducted a cross-sectional investigation of native
Chinese- and Spanish-speaking children acquiring English as a second language.
Utilizing several different methods of speech analysis, they assessed the childrens


147
Recommendations
Additional investigation concerning middle school language achievement is
indicated by the findings of this study. Presented below are recommendations for
additional research in this area:
1. Assessment of achievement in other foreign languages, such as French, Italian,
or German. Since Spanish currently has greater practicality in Florida, there
may exist greater motivation to acquire it than to acquire other languages.
2. Examination of the language achievement of middle school students compared
to that of all Spanish I high school students, not only ninth graders. There
may have been present some influence of school status on achievement.
Eighth graders are the upperclassmen within the middle school setting while
ninth graders are the freshmen in their respective learning environment.
Attitudes due to status may have had some effect on achievement. It is
inconclusive whether any of the status-induced attitude transferred over to
attitude toward the foreign language learning experience, as measured by the
FLAQ.
3. A modification of the annual School Board of Collier County study. Since
1986, the language achievement of middle school Spanish I students has been
compared to that of all high school Spanish I students (the type of study
recommended above). Collier County has reported that middle school
language achievement consistently exceeds that of the high school. However,
the annual comparison has not controlled for the effects of GPA, SES, or


71
As the above second language theorists have acknowledged, there is a legitimate
place for comprehensible input in second language acquisition. However, they have
contested its exclusive role as proposed by Krashen (1982). They have submitted that
modifications be made in his theory to accommodate the necessary and equally valid
role of incomprehensible input (Van Patten, 1987; White, 1987), comprehensible
output (Swain, 1985), interaction (Bissex, 1981; Carroll et al., 1978; Crtese, 1987;
Long, 1985; Neu, 1991; Rivers, 1986, 1987, 1992; Schlesinger, 1977; Stem, 1983;
Strong, 1983; Wells, 1981), and negotiation of meaning (Gass & Varonis, 1985;
Long, 1983; Long & Porter, 1985; Met, n.d.; Pica et al., 1987; Porter, 1986;
Savignon, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981) in language development.
Affective Filter Hypothesis
Krashens affective filter hypothesis addresses the role of affective factors in the
development of linguistic competence. The notion of an affective filter that can
interfere with language acquisition was initially posited by Dulay and Burt (1977),
who hypothesized the presence of a "socio-affective filter."
Krashen has maintained that ones affective filter expedites or inhibits second
language acquisition. The affective filter is a conceptual entity that obstructs or
augments the complete utilization of input received by the language acquirer for
language acquisition. Hostility, anxiety, and other feelings of discomfort heighten the
level of the affective filter. Although input received by the language student may be
comprehensible, it may not be absorbed well because of the hindering influence of the


141
Discussion
School Affiliation and Posttest Performance
The regression analyses indicated that there was a significant relationship between
school affiliation and each of the four components of the Spanish I Exam posttest.
Controlling for the effects of pretest score, GPA, and SES, high school students and
middle school students differed by an average of 1.48 points in posttest listening
comprehension. The results favored the middle school students.
In posttest writing skill, adjusted mean middle school performance was 1.24 points
above that of the high school. Analysis of the two groups with respect to posttest
reading comprehension yielded an adjusted mean difference of 12.39 points, with the
middle school students exhibiting greater achievement than the high school students.
Performance on the oral component of the posttest favored the middle schoolers, who
scored an adjusted average of 3.68 points above the high schoolers.
The results of the regression analyses provided empirical support for the positive
effect that the dual presence of the middle school-second language philosophies had on
the language achievement of the Spanish I eighth graders. Krashen (1981) stressed
that the utmost goal of language educators should be the provision of a nonthreatening
environment; acquisition will naturally ensue. Ely (1986) concurred: "Before some
students can be expected to take linguistic risks, they must be made to feel more
psychologically comfortable and safe in their learning environment" (p. 23).
The affirmations of the above second language acquisition proponents are parallel
to those of middle school advocates, who contend that instruction must attend, above


39
accepting, and student-oriented. It is one which attempts to reduce anonymity and
alienation. It has been found that there exists a close relationship between ones
socioemotional needs, as attended to within a positive school climate, and ones
academic achievement (Davis, 1987). Thus, a school climate which addresses ones
socioemotional needs should ultimately facilitate ones scholastic attainment.
Conclusion
There are numerous components that are indicative of the actual implementation of
the middle school concept within a school bearing the label "middle school."
However, all features cannot be found at all middle schools. The degree of
implementation of middle school characteristics varies from institution to institution.
Although there existed some variation in the middle school components in the schools
examined within this study, there were numerous features that were present at all of
the schools. Consequently, these were the attributes that were discussed in detail in
the previous section of this literature review.
The subsequent section describes research that has been conducted to determine
the relative effectiveness of the implementation of the middle school concept.
The Effectiveness of the Middle School Concept
Since its implementation, the middle school concept has been the subject of much
controversy as to whether or not it has truly accomplished that which it theoretically
set out to achieve. The findings of studies conducted shortly after the initial
implementation of the middle school concept are mixed as to whether increases in


146
If the district goal is indeed increased linguistic competence, then full advantage
should be taken of the foreign language learning environment present within the
middle school setting. The middle school foreign language program can serve as a
significant foundation for serious language study. Rather than being eliminated
because of budgetary concerns, as is under consideration in several Florida school
districts, the Spanish I middle school program should be expanded to include several
Spanish I classes. This expansion would afford a greater percentage of middle school
students the opportunity to commence serious language study while within a setting
facilitative to language acquisition.
Finally, although high schools tend to be organized in such a way as to foremost
maximize the transmission of subject content, their foreign language instructors could,
within their own classrooms, initially focus on the development of positive affect
within their charges; they could relegate the goal of student content acquisition to a
subordinate position while developing a positive learning environment. Once the
affective filter is lowered, learner receptivity to input is enhanced (Krashen, 1982) and
acquisition of subject material is facilitated.
As stated previously, affect has been found to have a significant influence on
second language acquisition (Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1982; Rivers, 1987). The
impact of the middle school-high school difference in the priority accorded affect as
an instructional goal may have been reflected in the Foreign Language Attitude
Questionnaire scores. As mentioned previously, the adjusted mean difference of 6.26
points on the FLAQ between the middle schoolers and high schoolers (with the results
favoring the middle school students) was significant.


170
Sherer, V.E., & Biemel, J.S. (1987). Foreign languages in the middle school:
Exploration, enrollment, excellence. In D. W. Birckbichler (Ed.), Proficiency,
policy, and professionalism in foreign language education (pp. 106-117).
Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
Sienkiewicz, H.S. (1973). A comparative study to determine the relationship
between the existing practices of selected middle schools and student performance
on a standardized attitudinal measure (Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State
University, East Lansing). Dissertation Abstracts International. 34, 1007A.
Sinclair, R., & Zigarmi, D. (1977-79). The effects a middle school interdisciplinary
staffing pattern and a middle school departmentalized staffing pattern has on
student achievement levels, perceptions of school achievement levels, perceptions
of school environment, and attitudes toward teachers. In Middle school research-
Selected studies 1977-1979 (pp. 55-64). Columbus, OH: Joint Effort of the
National Middle School Associations Research Committee & Publications
Committee.
Sizer, T. (1984). Horaces compromise. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Stavin, R.E. (1990). Cooperative learning-Theory, research, and practice.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Smith, J. (1975). A comparison of middle school instruction and conventional
instruction with respect to the academic achievement and self-concept of pre and
early adolescents (Doctoral dissertation, University of Akron, Akron, OH).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 36, 1420A.
Snow, C.E. (1987). Beyond conversation: Second language learners acquisition of
description and explanation. In J. Lantolf & A. Labarca (Eds.), Research in
second language learning: Focus on the classroom (pp. 3-16). Norwood, NJ:
Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Snyder, B., & DeSelms, C. (1983). Personal growth through student-centered
activities. In A. Garfinkel (Ed.), The foreign language classroom: New
techniques (pp. 19-32). Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
Spolsky, B. (1968). Language testing: The problem of validation. TESOL
Quarterly. 2, 88-94.
Steffans, P. (1991). ExplorationThe final frontier. Middle School Journal. 22 (3),
30-33.


27
junior high school had traditionally been organized in a manner similar to that of the
senior high school, which stresses a subject-oriented approach to instruction. This
emphasis differs from the student-centered instruction of the middle school.
The goal of the middle school is ultimately to facilitate the transescents transition
from elementary to high school. The middle school is viewed as performing a critical
role in ones education, as it is generally during this period that a student decides to
continue or discontinue his/her education (Becker, 1990). Because the profound
social, physical, and intellectual changes that are occurring within these middle years
so greatly influence the students self-concept and ultimately ones academic
achievement (Lemer, 1986), the middle school curriculum must focus on all of these
developmental areas in order to create a successful learning environment. Lounsbury
and Vars (1978) delineated the following curricular guidelines:
1. Every student should have access to at least one adult who knows and
cares for him personally, and who is responsible for helping him to
deal with the problems of growing up.
2. Every student should have the opportunity to deal directly with the
problems, both personal and social that surround him.
3. Every student should have the opportunity to progress at his own rate
through a continuous, nongraded sequence of learning experiences in
those areas of the curriculum that have a genuine sequential organization.
4. Every student should have access to a rich variety of exploratory
experiences, both required and elective, (pp. 41-42)
Stronge and Jones (1991) also stressed a number of characteristics of the middle
school concept that focus on attending to the various needs of the transescent. They
listed the need for a secure instructional environment that is conducive to learning, an
emphasis on educating the whole child, and the provision of opportunities for student
success. Kohut (1988) asserted that programs should be designed to create an


148
prior knowledge of Spanish relative to language acquisition. Thus, a variation
of the above study is recommended in which these variables are included in
the analysis, competency in each of the four language skills is assessed
individually, and attitude toward the foreign language learning experience is
measured. In addition, it is suggested that the study be conducted in diverse
school districts and geographical areas, as this would enhance the
generalizability of the results.
Summary
The proliferation of middle school philosophy during the last 25 years has
constituted one of the most profound and all-encompassing reformations in the history
of American public education (George & Oldaker, 1985). This philosophy has been
espoused largely due to the failure of the junior high structure to meet the needs of its
unique population-the transescent. The middle school, contrary to the junior high,
has been designed foremost to cultivate a positive school climate in which student
academic achievement will naturally ensue. Although early research findings
concerning the effectiveness of middle school philosophy have been equivocal, later
studies have produced supportive results.
Changes in philosophy invariably bring about changes in curricular offerings,
including foreign languages. A number of Florida counties have expanded the middle
school foreign language curriculum to incorporate a Spanish I class equivalent to that
at the high school level. Due to articulation and/or budgetary concerns, administrators


61
the other students. Bransford and Johnson surmised that comprehension was
augmented via the provision of background information, as it would allow the students
to tap into their mental schema and organize the novel input. The new input was
rendered more comprehensible by the background information (Krashen, 1982).
Omaggio (1986) concurred: "For material to be meaningful, it must be clearly
relatable to existing knowledge that the learner already has. . [Educators need] to
provide advance organizers devices that activate relevant background knowledge -
to facilitate the learning and retention of new material" (pp. 96-97).
Review of the literature continued to yield evidence in support of paralinguistic
stimuli as a factor in the comprehensibility of input. Anderson, Reynolds, Schallert,
and Goetz (1977), Johnson (1981, 1982), and Ribovich (1979) all conducted studies in
which students were tested on their comprehension of passages containing familiar
material and passages dealing with unfamiliar topics. The significant findings indicate
that text familiarity, rather than lexical or grammatical structure, is a primary factor in
the facilitation of comprehension.
Caretaker speech
Although comprehension can be enhanced by pictorial contextual stimuli and topic
familiarity, Krashen (1985a) has proposed that caretaker speech can serve the same
purpose. Caretaker speech (also termed mpthergse, foreigner talk, or teacher talk) is
simplified speech. It resembles the type of speech employed when parents speak to
their children-from infancy on. It is composed of syntactically simple sentences,
relates to the "here and now," and tends to be accompanied by many actions, gestures,


118
The oral section was administered within a day or two of the administration of the
remainder of the examination. This component required individual monitoring by a
responsible adult. An audiocassette tape recorder and blank audiocassette tape were
utilized to tape each students oral production for subsequent evaluation. This section
of the exam was performed outside the confines of the classroom on a one-on-one
basis. The monitor read a short paragraph of directions to the student. The student
selected one picture from three pictures shown by the monitor and was given
approximately one minute to organize his or her thoughts before beginning to speak.
At the end of the minute, the tape recorder and a timer were turned on. As taping
commenced, the student stated his or her name (which was later coded into numerical
form) and began orally describing the picture in Spanish. Thirty seconds were allotted
for the oral description.
The writing component consisted of two parts. The first segment was a
biographical sketch in which the students were to respond in written Spanish to eight
biographical questions posed in Spanish (e.g., "De dnde eres?"--"Where are you
from?"). In the second part of the writing section, the students viewed three pictures
containing much stimuli. The instructions directed the students to select one of the
pictures and to write a paragraph in Spanish about the picture. The paragraph was to
be at least 50 words in length.
Although the Spanish I Final Exam employed by the School Board of Collier
County at the time of the study included a short section of questions pertaining to
culture, this section was deleted from the Spanish I Exam employed within this study.


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Since the early 1960s, an increasing number of school districts have been
converting their junior high schools, typically composed of seventh through ninth
grades, to the middle school organizational pattern. The middle school structure has
encompassed a variety of grade spans: grades 5-8, 6-8, 5-7, and 6-7. The most
prevalent organization of a middle school has been found to be the sixth-eighth grade
span (Epstein & Maclver, 1990). This reorganization of the junior high to the middle
school structure has constituted one of the most comprehensive attempts at educational
reform in the history of American public education (George & Oldaker, 1985).
Although in theory the junior high school had been initially designed to better
serve pre-adolescents and early adolescents, "a dominant notion had been to move
secondary education down" (Alexander, 1984, p. 17). With its emphasis on
departmentalization, college preparation and graduation requirements, the junior high
has often been described as a watered-down high school. The middle school, on the
contrary, has been proposed to facilitate and lengthen the transition to high school.
Dedicated solely to the immediate needs of the pubescent students as they pass through
this transitional stage of development, the middle school has been given "a status of its
own, rather than a junior classification" (Johnson, 1962, p. 41).
1


52
Once information is learned via repetitive usage of the same sequence of
processing operations, the processing becomes automatic. Automatic processing
requires the activation of a permanent sequence of nodes in long-term memory in
response to a particular input configuration. This activation occurs without the
conscious effort of the learner. Once information has been transferred to long-term
memory and can be secured via automatic processing, its suppression or alteration is
difficult.
McLaughlin has thus viewed language development as the transfer of information
from short-term memory to long-term memory. As he has believed that learners can
and do utilize what they consciously learn in order to produce verbalizations, he has
thus called for the reversal of the acquisition-learning hypothesis. His contention is
that conscious learning of rules and structures must occur prior to communicative
language usage. This conscious learning then serves to contribute ultimately to greater
fluency in language production.
Natural Order Hypothesis
The natural order hypothesis claims that grammatical structures are acquired in a
certain developmental sequence regardless of what is being taught in the formal
instructional setting. This sequence is predetermined and follows a similar progression
in both child and adult acquirers of a second language. The implications for
instruction are that explicit grammar instruction can be for naught if the learner has
not as yet attained the developmental level to acquire the particular grammatical


143
Maclver, 1990). Advocates of this philosophy view academic success as an inevitable
consequence once a positive attitude has been secured. Middle schools in which this
goal has been given ultimate priority have evidenced an increase in scholastic
accomplishment (George & Oldaker, 1985; Levine et al., 1984; Lipsitz, 1984;
Waysonetal., 1982).
On the other hand, high schools, which have tended to focus primarily on the
dissemination of academic content, have evidenced a decrease in positive affect. It
has been found that at the high school level, "students express underlying negativity
and tension toward their teachers. Some students find their school experience painful,
and many find it unenjoyable. ... In general, students ask for more openness and
mutual respect" (Hass, 1987, p. 466).
As middle school and second language acquisition philosophies both champion the
profound relationship between affect and academic achievement and base their entire
pedagogy upon this relationship, it was expected that the FLAQ scores of middle
school students would exceed those of high school students. The data analysis
supported this expectation.
The results of the multiple linear regression analysis yielded a significant
relationship between each of the four pretest scores and corresponding posttest scores
on the Spanish I Exam. This correlation was expected, as the pretest and posttest
were identical. Hence, a learners pretest score on the Spanish I Exam appeared to be
a reliable predictor of performance on the analogous component of the posttest.


47
Some of the schools were found to be highly successful, while others were not.
Rutter was interested in identifying the variables that contributed to the schools
differential success rate. Success was denoted by measures of attendance rates, school
decorum, behavior outside of school, parental satisfaction, academic achievement
scores on standardized tests, and school reputation of excellence.
The two primary factors affecting the success or failure rate of the school
appeared to be the emphasis on scholastic achievement and the psychosocial climate of
the school. Rutter concluded that the greatest difference between the schools was each
schools effectiveness in addressing the social issues involved in learning. What is
significant about this study is that, although the study occurred within junior high
schools, those schools that yielded high success rates were those that were student-
oriented. Their primary concern was the provision of an "ethos of caring" (George &
Oldaker, 1985), which was demonstrated via interdisciplinary teaming, advisory
programs, and other such structures to attend to the psychosocial needs of the student
population. Although found within junior high schools, such characteristics form the
foundation of the middle school concept (George, 1983).
In an outlier study conducted by the Phi Delta Kappa Commission on Discipline
(Wayson et al., 1982), over 500 schools that had been identified as exhibiting
exemplary student behavior were located. Through questionnaire responses it was
ascertained that the school characteristics that effected good behavior are those that are
fundamental to middle school philosophy. Among the attributes listed were the
fostering of a sense of belonging in the students, the provision of advisor-advisee
programs, and the interaction of students and teachers in the resolution of conflicts.


25
6. What is the relationship between middle school practices and
practices based upon prevailing second language theory?
7. How is middle schoolers language achievement influenced by the relationship
between middle school methodology and practices founded upon current
second language theory?
The Middle School Concept
A glance down a middle school hall during a change of classes will provide an
observer with all of the necessary evidence of the vast variety of shapes, sizes, and
maturity levels that characterize this age group. Middle school students range in
development from elementary-sized children to youth that are quite mature in
appearance. Their behavior runs the gamut from hitting, running, and shoving, to
maturely and purposefully ambling down the hall toward their destination.
These students are in a developmental stage termed "transescence" by Eichom
(1966). Transescence refers to the "stage of development that begins prior to the
onset of puberty and extends through early adolescence" (George & Lawrence, 1982,
p. 2). This period is characterized by its extreme social, biological, and cognitive
changes.
Socially, transescents are greatly influenced by peer pressure and tend to form
cliques to release emotional pressures (George & Lawrence, 1982). They seek
independence, particularly from authority figures. In their search for independence
and their own niche, there is a need for much exploration, experimentation, and
variation in their experiences.


131
Results
Means and standard deviations for the two groups of students on GPA, SES, the
FLAQ, and each pretest and posttest component are presented in Tables 4-1 and 4-2.
With the exception of SES (in which both groups were comparable), higher scores
were attained on all measures by middle school students.
Table 4-1
Means and Standard Peviatiops for Pretest and Eosttest Measures by School
Spanish I Exam Components
Middle School8
Pretest Posttest
High School6
Pretest Posttest
Listening Comprehension
M
8.20
14.14
5.95
10.96
SD
3.26
2.40
3.91
3.86
Writing
M
3.06
11.40
1.79
8.00
SD
2.43
3.62
1.92
4.48
Reading Comprehension
M
25.74
56.37
19.88
37.72
SD
10.99
11.53
10.72
16.48
Oral
M
3.88
8.24
2.46
5.61
SD
3.39
3.12
3.05
2.75
Denotes eighth graders (N= 107). bDenotes ninth graders (N=57).


101
disclosed that significant changes had still not been effected within this area of
research. There still existed a paucity of studies.
An exhaustive search of the literature addressing this topic yielded no studies
analogous to the present investigation. However, a comparable inquiry, albeit
unempirical, was disclosed in the search for a suitable language achievement
assessment instrument for the present study. The School Board of Collier County in
Florida instituted a Spanish I program at the middle school level in 1984. The
curriculum has been equivalent to that of the high school Spanish I course, Course
No. 0708340, as identified by the Florida Department of Education Curriculum
Frameworks. Motivated by articulation concerns as well as the decision to award high
school credit for successful completion of the eighth grade Spanish 1 course, the
Department of Curriculum and Instruction initiated the development of a district-wide
Spanish I final exam in 1985.
Since 1986, Collier County has utilized the results of this exam to annually
compare the language achievement of its middle school eighth graders and high school
students enrolled in Spanish I. The score of comparison has been a composite exam
score comprised of the total sum of the points attained in the listening comprehension,
writing, reading comprehension, and oral sections of the exam. Yearly nonstatistical
comparative measures have indicated that middle school students consistently score
higher than high school students.


116
At the end of the 1985-86 school year, the tests were reproduced and distributed
by Schmelz to the principal or assistant principal of each public high school and
middle school in Collier County. In the interest of maintaining test security,
instructions were given to delay distribution of the tests to the teachers until the day
prior to the exam date. Upon completion of test administration, the exams were
collected, graded, and returned to the School Board of Collier County Department of
Curriculum and Instruction.
The following year, the test development committee selected from the results of
the 1985-86 Spanish I Final Exam student compositions that they determined were
representative of each score on the holistic rubric. Copies of these sample
compositions were distributed with future Spanish I Final Exams in an effort to
establish greater standardization in evaluation.
Procedures to standardize the holistic scoring of the oral component of the
examination were analogous to those for the standardization of the composition
section. A holistic rubric to assess pronunciation, sentence structure, fluency, and
vocabulary was developed. Interscorer reliability coefficients of the holistic evaluation
of the oral component were not determined during development of the test. These
coefficients were determined by the researcher prior to pretest administration in the
present study.
Efforts to further define and streamline the Spanish I Final Exam continued
through 1989, when budgetary concerns prohibited the continued utilization of
substitute days for test development and revision. Until this occurrence, an item


20
objectives to be tested, assessment of achievement in other languages was not possible.
Since Spanish currently has greater practicality in Florida, there may have existed
greater motivation to acquire it than to acquire other languages. As such, caution
must be exercised in attempting to generalize the results of this study to achievement
in other languages.
In addition to achievement in the four language skills, acquisition of cultural
information is specified by the Florida Department of Education Curriculum
Frameworks as a student performance standard for Spanish I. However, knowledge
of cultural material was not assessed by the Spanish I Exam, as this study focused
primarily on student achievement in the four language areas. Hence, inferences
concerning acquisition of cultural knowledge cannot be made based upon the findings
of this investigation.
Finally, the study did not control for differences in self-selection between middle
schoolers and high schoolers relative to enrollment in Spanish I classes. Enrollment in
middle school Spanish I classes tends to be elective; a few students are placed in
Spanish I due to overcrowding in other courses, but most of the students who are in
the course have chosen to take it.
The majority of high school students, however, are not given that option. The
graduation requirements of most high school students dictate two consecutive years of
enrollment in a foreign language. Although the students can choose which foreign
language they wish to study, their enrollment in a language course is a requirement.


119
As this investigation focused primarily on the students achievement in the four
language skills and not on their knowledge of cultural material, the inclusion of this
section was deemed superfluous for the purposes of this study.
Reliability of Procedures
Reliabilities of the Multiple-Choice Sections of the Spanish 1 Exam
Since reliability indices of the multiple-choice sections of the Spanish I Exam
were not ascertained by the Collier County Public School System, the researcher
determined their values utilizing pretest data. The internal consistency of the reading
comprehension section, which consisted of 80 multiple-choice items, was computed
via the Ruder-Richardson (KR20 = .88) procedure. The Ruder Richardson 20
procedure was again employed in the computation of the internal consistency of the
17-item listening comprehension component (RR20 = .71).
Interscorer Reliabilities
As interscorer reliability indices were not ascertained for the holistic scoring of the
writing and oral components during the development of the Spanish I Final Exam,
determination of these values was required of the researcher. Prior to data collection,
three Seminole County Spanish I teachers were trained by the researcher in the holistic
assessment of the writing and oral sections of the Spanish I Exam. During a two-hour
training session, each individual was provided with a holistic rubric and copies of the
Spanish 1 Final Exam student compositions that had been selected by the Collier
County test development committee as representative of each score on the rubric.


97
10. The classroom does not constitute the real world. To achieve exposure to
truly authentic communication, one must utilize resources that exist outside of
the classroom (e.g., community resources, satellite broadcasts, and the like).
Similar suggestions have been advanced by Curtain and Pesla (1988), who
proposed several key concepts for elementary and middle school foreign language
programs: (a) Second languages are best acquired when they, rather than the
childrens native tongue, are the medium of instruction, (b) Effective language usage
occurs in a meaningful communicative setting, (c) Fruitful language instruction and
learning are based upon concrete experiences with which the children can identify.
(d) Provision must be made for physical activity in instructional exercises.
(e) Curricular planning is geared toward the learners levels of intellect, interest, and
motor abilities, (f) Effective language activities are integrated with other disciplines;
instruction is holistic and interdisciplinary, (g) Successful language instruction utilizes
a communicative syllabus rather than a grammatically-sequenced syllabus.
(h) "Successful language learning activities establish the language as a real means of
communication" (pp. xiv-xv).
An Eclectic Approach
Educators who wish to implement prevailing second language acquisition
methodology in their classrooms tend to take an eclectic approach, selecting beliefs
and pedagogical strategies with which they are most congruent. The Natural
Approach, in its most orthodox form, is presently found in few classrooms. Yet
many of the tenets expressed by Krashen and Terrell (1983) are being incorporated in


90
1982). In 1972, Asher assessed the listening comprehension of two groups of adults
studying German in night school. One group had received only 32 hours of
instruction via the TPR method, while the other group had received 150 hours of
traditional instruction in college-level German. The results of listening comprehension
tests indicated that the 32 hours of TPR instruction yielded a level of language
acquisition equivalent to that resulting from 150 hours of traditional instruction.
Similar results have been found by Asher in other studies that involved children as
well as adults, different languages, and different linguistic settings (Asher, 1965,
1966, 1969, 1979; Asher & Garcia, 1969; Asher et al., 1974; Asher & Price, 1967;
Kunihara & Asher, 1965).
Swaffer and Woodruff (1978) examined the listening comprehension skills of
students in German classes at the University of Texas. Some classes were exposed to
TPR for the first four weeks of the semester. The remainder of the curriculum
stressed listening comprehension activities, reading comprehension for content, and
limited instruction in grammar. The other classes were characterized by traditional
instruction (e.g., teacher-directed, grammatically-oriented) for the entire semester. The
researchers determined that the scores of the TPR-trained students on the Modern
Language Association reading and listening comprehension examinations exceeded the
national average. In addition, the student attrition rate between semesters decreased
from 45% to 22% over a period of two years and class evaluations were much more
favorable than in previous years.


159
Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting
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minority students: A theoretical framework. Los Angeles: California State
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Curran, C. A. (1976). Counseling--Learning in second languages. Apple River,
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Curtain, H.A., & Pesla, C.A. (1988). Languages and children-Making the match.
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Damico, S., Green, C., & Beil-Nathaniel, A. (1982). The impact of school
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and Leadership. 2, 238-252.
Davis, C.L. (1987). Developmental characteristics as rationale. In E. N. Brazee
(Ed.), Exploratory curriculum for the middle level (pp. 1-9). Rowley, MA: The
New England League of Middle Schools.
DeVilliers, P., & DeVilliers, J. (1973). A cross-sectional study of the acquisition of
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267-278.
Doran, M.J. (1989). Socialization and achievement of students in a newly-
implemented middle school (Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University Teachers
College, NY). Dissertation Abstracts International. 5Q, 2322A.
Dorman, G. (1983). Making schools work for young adolescents. Educational
Horizoas. 61, 175-182.
Draud, J.E. (1977). The effects of organizational structure of middle schools and
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(Doctoral dissertation, University of Cinncinnati). Dissertation Abstracts
International. 32, 4620A.
Dulay, H., & Burt, M. (1974). Natural sequences in child second language
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23
is open to the input" (p. 9). Feelings of discomfort, whether they be physical or
psychological, can trigger a rising of the affective filter, making the student less
receptive to second language acquisition. Conversely, positive feelings can enhance
language acquisition, as they can lower the affective filter.
Middle school philosophy and current theory concerning second language
acquisition posit similar perspectives with regard to the considerable influence of
affect on student achievement. Since both philosophies profess similar tenets and base
their entire pedagogy upon the affect-achievement relationship, the researcher was
interested in ascertaining what influence, if any, the simultaneous implementation of
both philosophies within the middle school would have on the language achievement
of middle school Spanish I students. The researcher examined the effect of school
affiliation on student language proficiency and on attitude toward the foreign language
learning experience. Since the Spanish 1 course is a relatively new curriculum
offering at the middle school level, there has been a dearth of research in this area.
This study was conducted in an attempt to provide empirical data in order to address
the above concern.
Organization of the Dissertation
A review of the literature pertinent to the study is presented in Chapter 2.
Chapter 3 is a discussion of the methodology, experimental design, and analysis
procedures of the study. The findings of the investigation and statistical analyses are
delineated in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 consists of a discussion of the results, implications
of the findings, and recommendations for further research.


Table 3-1
High School Demographics
106
School
A
SES
White. Black.
Hispanic.
Asian.
Other
Enrollment Structure
Middle
96%
2%
i%
1%
0%
1050
Departmentalized
B
Middle
84%
10%
2%
2%
2%
1184
Departmentalized
C
Middle
75%
20%
2%
3%
0%
2100
Departmentalized
D
Lower
Middle
69%
20%
4%
7%
0%
2060
Departmentalized
E
Middle
80%
13%
4ft
23
1ft
2400
Departmentalized
TOTALS:
79%
15%
3%
3%
0%
8794
Middle Schools
Six Florida middle schools from the counties of Brevard, Duval, St. Johns, and
Volusia participated in the study. Selection of these schools was made on the basis of
the existence within their curriculum of a Spanish I course that adhered to the
curriculum frameworks for Spanish I, Course No. 0708340, as specified by the
Florida Department of Education. Moreover, the teachers had expressed a desire to
be included in the study. In addition to the above criteria, inclusion was ultimately
made possible by the acquiescence of the Spanish I teachers at the matching high
schools to participate. Table 3-2 summarizes the demographics of the middle schools.


13
Articulation, or the smooth, planned, sequential progression from one level of a
foreign language course to another, has received very little attention as an area of
research in foreign language instruction (Ford & Hassel, 1983; Lange, 1988).
Successful articulation would allow a student to achieve the objectives specified within
the curriculum frameworks and to progress smoothly to the next level of instruction
with little difficulty or redundancy.
Middle school students enrolled in Spanish I, if the middle school and high school
Spanish I courses indeed adhere to the same curriculum frameworks, should manifest
language competency comparable to that of Spanish I high school students. Ideally,
the middle school student, upon entering high school, should be able to enter
Spanish II and should be adequately prepared in order to perform well.
Since the middle school Spanish I course was a relatively new course offering at
the time of this study, there was a lack of research concerning the degree of language
competency attained by middle school Spanish I students. The need for such studies
was reflected in comments by leading foreign language advocates whose assistance
was elicited in the search for an appropriate assessment instrument for this study. G.
Valdes (personal communication, September 24, 1991), State of Florida Department
of Education Foreign Language Program Specialist, conveyed an interest in the study.
He stated, "Although there is only one year of age difference in the two groups,
perhaps the school setting may have something to do in terms of achievement."
M. Met (personal communication, November 7, 1991), Foreign Language
Coordinator of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland and author of


APPENDIX B
SPANISH I EXAM EXCERPTS
PART I LISTENING COMPREHENSION
LISTEN TO THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH. AFTER THE PARAGRAPH, YOU
WILL BE ASKED SEVERAL QUESTIONS. CHOOSE THE MOST APPROPRIATE
RESPONSE FOR EACH QUESTION. THE PARAGRAPH AND QUESTIONS WILL
BE READ TWICE.
ME LLAMO PACO LOPEZ. TENGO UNA HERMANA QUE SE LLAMA
ELANA. YO TENGO QUINCE AOS Y MI HERMANA TIENE TRECE.
SOMOS MEXICANOS. EN LA ESCUELA ESTUDIAMOS INGLS. TENEMOS
GANAS DE VIAJAR A LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS.
CUNTOS HERMANOS TIENE PACO?
A. dos
B. una hermana
C. un hermano
QU QUIEREN ELLOS?
A. viajar a los Estados Unidos
B. tomar limonada
C. bailar la cha cha cha
152


CHAPTER 3
METHODS AND PROCEDURES
Introduction
The present study investigated the effects of school affiliation on student language
achievement and on attitude toward the foreign language learning experience. The
methodology and procedures of the study are presented within this chapter, which is
divided into the following 10 sections: (a) Setting selection; (b) Setting descriptions;
(c) Subject selection; (d) Subject description; (e) Data collection; (f) Instrumentation;
(g) Reliability of procedures; (h) Scoring procedures of student responses;
(i) Experimental design; and (j) Data analysis.
Settmg_.Sg.lecti.Qn
In order to determine which Florida school districts offered Spanish I, Course
No. 0708340, at the middle school level at the time of the present study, the
researcher called the Departments of Instruction and Curriculum of 10 school districts.
Of the 10 districts, 4 responded affirmatively.
In the summer of 1991, the superintendents of these four counties were sent an
introductory letter describing the study and requesting permission to include their
school districts in the study. After permission was granted, the researcher forwarded
similar correspondence to the principals of the middle schools offering Spanish I and
102


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142
all else, to the socioemotional, biological, and intellectual needs of the learner. It has
been found that "instruction in the average middle school is more innovative, active,
and student-centered than instruction in other grade organizations (Epstein &
Maclver, 1990, p. 43). To the contrary, the high school has "maintained a steady
focus on organizing in a way which facilitates the delivery of what they are committed
to, the academic disciplines" (Alexander & George, 1981, p. 114). The effect of the
disparate school philosophies on language achievement, with the results favoring the
middle school, was supported by the findings of the regression analysis.
School Affiliation and Attitude Toward the Foreign Language Learning Experience
The regression analysis indicated that there was a significant relationship between
school affiliation and attitude toward the foreign language learning experience, as
measured by the FLAQ. Middle school students exhibited an attitude that was
significantly more favorable than that of high school students.
The attitudinal variable has been found to be one of the most significant factors in
second language success (Feenstra, 1967; Gardner, 1959, 1978; Gardner & Lambert,
1959; Krashen, 1981; Lambert, 1961). One who feels relaxed in the learning
environment and enjoys the instructor may solicit communication by volunteeringone
may become a "high input generator" (Seliger, 1977) as well as a substantial producer
of output; such interactive participation enhances language acquisition (Bissex, 1981;
Crtese, 1987; Neu, 1991; Rivers, 1983, 1986; Stern, 1983).
The development of positive student affect is also the primary focus of middle
school philosophy (Alexander & George, 1981; Burkhardt & Fusco, 1986; Epstein &


161
Gaarder, A. B. (1967). Beyond grammar and beyond drills. Foreign Language
Annals. 1, 109-118.
Galyean, B. (1976). Humanistic eduction: A mosaic just begun. In G. Jarvis (Ed.),
An integrative approach to foreign language teaching: Choosing among the options
(pp. 201-243). Skokie, IL: National Textbook Company.
Galyean, B. (1977, May). The evolution of a confluent language program. Paper
presented at the International Conference on Confluent Education, Santa Barbara,
CA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 150 857)
Galyean, B. (1979). A confluent approach to curriculum design. Foreign Language
Annals. 12, 121-127.
Gamsky, N. (1970). Team teaching, student achievement and attitudes. Journal of
Experimental Education, 32, 42-45.
Gardner, R.C. (1959). Motivational variables in second-language acquisition.
Canadian Journal Qf Psychology, 12, 266-272.
Gardner, R.C. (1978). Attitudes and aptitude in learning French. Research Bulletin.
No. 13. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 157 381)
Gardner, R.C., & Lambert, W.E. (1959). Motivational variables in second-language
acquisition. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 11, 266-272.
Gardner, R., & Lambert, W.E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second-language
learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Gardner, R., Smythe, P., Clement, R., & Glicksman, L. (1976). Second language
learning: A social-psychological perspective. Canadian Modem Language
Review. 12, 198-213.
Gaskill, L.D. (1971). An investigation of the effects of four middle school programs
upon academic achievement and personal adjustment of eighth grade students
(Doctoral dissertation, North Texas State University, TX). Dissertation
Abstracts International. 22, 3607A.
Gass, S., & Varonis, E. (1985). Task variation and nonnative/nonnative negotiation
of meaning. In S. Gass & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language
acquisition (pp. 149-1611. Cambridge, MA: Newbury House.
George, P. (1983). The theory z school. Columbus, OH: National Middle School
Association.


62
facial expressions, and other extralinguistic stimuli for the facilitation of
comprehension. It is roughly-tuned to the childs present degree of linguistic
proficiency and tends to become increasingly complex as the child matures
linguistically. The relative lack of complexity of caretaker speech is probably not
resultant of any conscious act on the part of the speaker to formally teach the language
to the child. The speaker is merely motivated to modify his/her utterances for the
sole purpose of facilitating the childs comprehension of the communication (Cross,
1977; Hatch, 1983; Krashen, 1982; Wong-Fillmore, 1985).
Hatch (1983) expressed an interest in the nature of discourse between speakers and
learners of a language, regardless of whether it was the learners first or second
language. She noted that the modifications made by the speakers to facilitate learner
comprehension of first as well as second languages were comparable. The alterations
in utterances were identical to those characteristic of Krashens caretaker speech.
Wong-Fillmore (1985) described the speech adjustments recorded by Hatch:
They |the speakers! speak more slowly, enunciate more clearly, make greater
use of concrete references than of abstract ones, and use shorter and less
complex sentences than they might otherwise. They also make greater use of
repetitions and rephrasings than usual, and they accompany their speech with
gestures and demonstrations that give learners some extra-linguistic cues to
aid in their understanding of what is being said. (p. 33)
As the child matures linguistically, the complexity of the caretaker speech
increases. However, the correlation between the two variables is not precise. The
correlation coefficient between input complexity and the childs level of proficiency
tends to be positive, but is not very high (Brown, R., 1977; Cross, 1977; Krashen,
1985a; Newport, Gleitman, & Gleitman, 1977).


68
between individuals is imperative for the development of linguistic proficiency. Its
inherent value in second language acquisition is underscored by the following passage
by Rivers (1987):
Interaction involves not just expression of ones own ideas but comprehension
of those of others. . The participants work out interpretations of meaning
through this interaction, which is always understood in a context, physical or
experiential, with nonverbal cues adding aspects of meaning beyond the verbal.
All of these factors should be present as students learn to communicate:
listening to others, talking with others, negotiating meaning in a shared
context, (p. 4)
Neu (1991) asserted that "interaction, whether in the ideal situation with a native
speaker of the target language, or with another learner of the target language, is the
essential component [of language acquisition!" (p. 428). Strong (1983), who
examined the socialization patterns and second language acquisition of Spanish
speaking kindergartners, found that acquisition was significantly enhanced by ones
"talkativeness and responsiveness" (e.g., ones active utilization of the language).
Bissex (1981) maintained that:
children learn to talk by interacting with an environment that provides rich
information about language; they learn by speaking, being spoken to, asking
questions and listening to speech. . children learn to talk by talking,
in an environment that is full of talk, (p. 786)
Rivers (1986) concurred wholeheartedly that students must be simultaneously
involved in the comprehension and expression of a meaningful message in order to
achieve fluency in the language:
Students . achieve facility in using a language when their attention
is focused on conveying and receiving authentic messages messages that
contain information of interest to speaker and listener in a situation of
importance to both that is, through interaction . interaction between
people who have something to share, (p. 2)


50
first language acquisition, has maintained that second language acquisition conditions
must thus emulate the conditions under which ones native tongue was acquired. It
has been his belief that this provision will facilitate acquisition of a second language.
Five hypotheses form the core of Krashens second language acquisition theory:
(a) the acquisition-learning distinction hypothesis, (b) the natural order hypothesis,
(c) the monitor hypothesis, (d) the input hypothesis, and (e) the affective filter
hypothesis. Nevertheless, extensive discussion of the hypotheses in this paper has
been limited to the acquisition-learning distinction, the input, and the affective filter
hypotheses as they bear more relevance to the study at hand. Because of the
interrelatedness of all five hypotheses, the remaining two hypotheses will be reviewed,
but discussion will be cursory.
The Acquisition-Learning Distinction
The first hypothesis addresses the distinction between language learning and
language acquisition. Adults, according to Krashen (1982), develop proficiency in a
second language by means of two diverse and unrelated processes.
One means by which individuals develop linguistic competence is via acquisition,
a process that parallels native language acquisition in children. Acquisition (also
termed implicit learning, informal learning, or natural learning) refers to the
subconscious absorption of language by immersion in a highly contextualized linguistic
environment. The goal of the instructional setting is communication, not the
internalization of the rules of the language. The language acquirer does not receive
overt, formal instruction in the structure of the language and frequently is incognizant


34
The exploratory curriculum, as well as the entire middle school curriculum,
requires personalization of instructional content in order to demonstrate its relevance
to the student (McDonough, 1991). The middle schoolers awareness of a topics
significance to their own lives will facilitate the acquisition, understanding, and
retention of that particular issue (Johnson, 1989).
Middle school advocates (Brazee, 1987; Compton, 1984; Melton, 1984;
Schneider, 1986) have stressed that exploration must be an important component of
nonexploratory courses (such as the typical "academic" courses-math, science,
English, and social studies) as well. Such exploration can be attained through a
diversity of teaching strategies-cooperative learning, interdisciplinary thematic units,
problem-solving activities, and hands-on activities. Students provided with these
opportunities will see more interrelated aspects of the different curricular areas than
those who have little opportunity for exploration (Schneider, 1986).
Extensive Advising and Counseling
Middle school administrators often wrestle with the dilemma of how to create the
right balance of courses that provide intellectual stimulation and those that provide
emotional and social support (Epstein & Maclver, 1990). Moving from a one-teacher
elementary school experience to a middle school in which one has six or more
teachers daily, the middle school student can feel overwhelmed and isolated. If
students experience a sense of alienation, they are more apt to experience adjustment
problems (Lipsitz, 1984). These problems can manifest themselves in poor academic
performance and/or withdrawal from school functions (Epstein & Maclver, 1990).


166
Melton, G. (1984). The junior high school: Successes and failures. In J. H.
Lounsbury (Ed.), Perspectives in middle school education. 1964-1984 (pp. 5-13).
Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.
Merenbloom, E.Y. (1986). The team process in the middle school: A handbook for
teachers (2nd ed.). Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.
Met, M. (n.d.). Negotiation of meaning-Teachers activity manual. Rockville,
MD: Montgomery County Public Schools, Office of Instruction and Program
Development.
Mooney, P. F. (1970). A comparative study of achievement and attendance of
10-14-year-olds in a middle school and in other school organizations (Doctoral
dissertation, University of Florida). Dissertation Abstracts International, 32, 98A.
Moran, W.F. (1969). Effect of the middle school program upon the academic
achievement and attitudes of sixth grade students in the Valley Central School
District (Doctoral dissertation, Fordham University, NY). Dissertation Abstracts
International. 31, 113A.
Moskowitz, G. (1981). Effects of humanistic techniques on attitude, cohesiveness,
and self-concept of foreign language students. Modem Language Journal. 65,
149-157.
Mueller, T. (1971). Student attitudes in the basic French course at the University of
Kentucky. Modern Language Journal, 55, 290-298.
Mueller, G. (1980). Visual contextual cues and listening comprehension: An
experiment. Modem Language Journal, 64, 335-340.
Naiman, N., Frohlich, M., Stem, D., & Todesco, A. (1978). The good language
learner. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
Nash, C.R. (1974). A comparison of student attitudes toward self, peers, teachers,
principals, and school environment in selected middle schools and junior high
schools in Mississippi (Doctoral dissertation, Mississippi State University).
Dissertation .Abstracts international, 35, 7571A.
National Middle School Association (1982). This we believe. Columbus, OH:
National Middle School Association.
Nederhood, B. (1986). The effects of student team learning on academic
achievement, attitudes toward self and school, and expansion of friendship bonds
among middle school students (Doctoral dissertation, University of Washington).
Dissertation Abstracts international, 47, 1175A.


167
Nerenz, A. G., & Knop, C.K. (1982). The effect of group size on students*
opportunity to learn in the second-language classroom. In A. Garfinkel (Ed.),
ESL and the foreign language teacher (pp. 47-60). Lincolnwood, IL: National
Textbook Company.
Neu, J. (1991). In search of input: The case study of a learner of Polish as a
foreign and second language. Foreign Language Annals. 24 (5), 427-442.
Newmark, L., & Reibel, D. (1968). Necessity and sufficiency in language learning.
International Review of Applied Linguistics, 6, 145-164.
Newport, E., Gleitman, H., & Gleitman, L. (1977). Mother, Id rather do it
myself: Some effects and non-effects of maternal speech style. In C. Snow &
C. Ferguson (Eds.), Talking to children (pp. 109-149). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Oiler, J. (1971). Language use and foreign language teaming. International Review
of Applied. Linguistics, 2 161-166.
Oiler, J., Hudson, A., & Liu, P. (1977). Attitudes and attained proficiency in ESL:
A sociolinguistic study of native speakers of Chinese in the United States.
Language Learning. 27. 1-27.
Omaggio, A. (1979). Pictures and second language comprehension: Do they help?
Foreign Language Annals, 12, 107-16.
Omaggio, A.C. (1986). Teaching language in context. Boston: Heinle & Heinle
Publishers.
Oxford, R.L., Lavine, R.Z., & Crookall, D. (1989). Language learning strategies,
the communicative approach, and their classroom implications. Foreign Language
Annals. 22, 29-39.
Parker, R. (1985). Small group cooperative learning. The Education Digest. LI (2),
44-46.
Phillips, J.K. (1989). From talk to action: An essential for curricular change. In
D. McAlpine (Ed.), Defining the essentials for the foreign language classroom
(pp. 1-13). Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
Pica, T. (1991). Foreign language classrooms: Making them research-ready and
researchable. In B. Freed (Ed.), Foreign language acquisition research and the
classroom (pp. 393-412). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company.


37
relationships with each other and among themselves. The team or house, according to
Lipsitz (1984):
minimizes size, personalizes the environment, increases communication
among students and teachers, and reduces tension. The schools have all
reduced the influence of subject-oriented departments in order to empower
multidisciplinary teams. They have guaranteed teachers common planning
periods so that every student is known predictably by a team of teachers
who have time to consult with one another about his or her academic
progress and general well-being, (p. 194)
As a result of teaming, students motivation to learn has been found to increase
and attitudes toward school have been more favorable (MacIver, 1990). Gamsky
(1970), who compared the academic achievement and attitudinal disposition of
students taught via interdisciplinary teaming or traditional instruction, concluded that
student attitude towards instructors, motivation in learning, and sense of independence
are positively influenced by interdisciplinary teaming.
George (1984) affirmed that group membership in which one is an active
participant is one of the primary determinants in the improvement of school
effectiveness and scholastic achievement. He continued: "Institutions . function
far more effectively when they are organized so that the individuals within them feel
known and cared about, and when they see themselves as important members of an
important group (p. 54).
Team teachers, because they share the same students, are afforded increased
opportunities for the recognition and solution of student problems. In addition, their
common planning period provides collaboration time relative to instructional goals,
student progress, and the implementation of ideas. Because they are each drawing on


73
this model, the instructor functions as one who imparts knowledge to a passive
audience. All interaction is initiated and regulated by the instructor. Stevick (1976)
provided a metaphorical explanation of defensive learning:
The teacher lis] . seen as hurling darts at the student. If a dart
strikes an unprotected area (that is, if the learner makes a mistake in
speaking or understanding), the experience is painful. What the learner
tries to do, therefore, is to see to it that there are as tew chinks as
possible in his armor. . The teacher is an adversary . against
whom the learner may defend himself in a number of ways. (p. 110)
In an environment characterized by defensive learning, student attention is focused
on the protection of oneself from feelings of discomfort-embarrassment, hostility,
anxiety, humiliation, and the like. As the bulk of ones cognitive energy is devoted
towards ones self-defense and self-preservation, ones receptivity to input is nil
(Krashen, 1982; Stevick, 1976). The affective filter is very high. Such an
environment is viewed as a hindrance to second language acquisition, as teacher-
dominated and -controlled classrooms cannot, by their nature, permit the volume of
linguistic exchange essential to language acquisition (Rivers, 1987).
Receptive learning, on the contrary, results in the lowering of the affective filter.
Consequently, students are off the defensive. Stevick (1976) likened receptive
learning to "what happens to seed that has been sown in good soil" (p. 111).
According to Stevick, the goals of language instruction are fluency, comprehension,
and acquisition of vocabulary (the yield of the crop). The means by which to attain
those goals are the content of the instructional resources (the seed), methodology and
instructional aids (the machinery), the unique, innate characteristics of the students


77
The role of integrative motivation in second language acquisition has been refuted
by a number of studies (Strong, 1984; Svanes, 1987). Strong examined the
relationship between integrative motivation and second language acquisition of
Spanish-speaking kindergartners. Integrative motivation measures were secured by
determining childrens preferences in the selection of friends, playmates, and
workmates. Scores were derived on the basis of the childrens tendencies to select
members of the target language community. Analysis of spontaneous utterances, from
which were attained measures of syntax, vocabulary acquisition, and pronunciation,
indicated the level of the childrens communicative English competency. Statistical
analyses yielded no evidence supportive of the claim that second language acquisition
is enhanced by an integrative orientation towards members of the second language
community.
Strongs findings were corroborated by Svanes (1987), who studied foreign adults
learning Norwegian as a second language. Interested in assessing their motives in
studying Norwegian, he administered to the students a Likert-format questionnaire
consisting of 20 statements expressing reasons for their interest in learning Norwegian.
The students were to indicate on a 5-point scale the degree of importance of each
reason relative to their own motives. Their proficiency in Norwegian was measured
by means of the Level Two Norwegian examination, which includes essay, listening
comprehension, reading comprehension, doze test, and oral proficiency components.
Contrary to Gardner and Lamberts (1959) contention that integrative motivation
is a more influential factor in language acquisition than instrumental motivation,


the beginning of the school year, all subjects were administered as a pretest a Spanish
I Exam that tested all four language skills. The participating Spanish I teachers were
instructed to conduct their classes as usual for the duration of the school year. At the
end of the school year, all subjects were administered the same Spanish I Exam as a
posttest and the Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire. Student data on
socioeconomic status (SES) and GPA, variables that might influence performance on
the Spanish I posttest exam, were also collected.
To examine the effects of school affiliation, Spanish 1 Exam pretest score, SES,
and GPA on each of the four language skills and on attitude toward the foreign
language learning experience, multiple linear regression analyses were performed.
The results indicated that there was a significant relationship between school affiliation
and each of the posttest components. Middle school language achievement exceeded
that of the high school in all four language skills. In addition, middle school attitude
toward the foreign language learning experience was significantly more favorable than
that of the high school. Pretest score and GPA, but not SES, were significantly
related to language achievement and attitude.


10
the beginning of the 1992-93 school year as a pretest and again at the end of the
school year as a posttest.
The administration of the pretest was deemed necessary, as some of the students
were Hispanic and demonstrated advanced speaking skills in Spanish. In addition,
some of the middle schools offered Spanish as a wheel course in sixth and/or seventh
grade. Enrollment in this wheel course in earlier grades could have influenced
performance on the Spanish 1 Exam. Exam results could also have been influenced by
the previous enrollment of a ninth grader in a Spanish I class. One percent of the
ninth graders had, either at the middle school level or at the high school level, been
enrolled in Spanish I the previous year. Thus, the pretest was administered in order
to account for any differences in student language achievement prior to the beginning
of instruction in the Spanish I course. Furthermore, the inclusion of the pretest scores
as one of the independent variables increased the power of the statistical analysis.
Student attitude toward the foreign language learning experience was also
measured, as it has been hypothesized that ones affective filter influences the amount
of input that is comprehended and ultimately, ones level of language attainment
(Krashen, 1982). According to this premise, learners who have a better attitude about
their experiences in their foreign language class tend to possess a lower affective
filter. In turn, their capability for language acquisition is enhanced.
A number of studies have evidenced that students attitudes are positively related
to second language achievement (Feenstra, 1967; Gardner, 1959, 1978; Gardner &
Lambert, 1959; Lambert, 1961). In an investigation conducted from 1959-1961,


17
Due to the need for a more systematic evaluation of the degree to which school
affiliation influences language achievement, the present study was conducted.
However, rather than comparing a composite exam score, this researcher compared
the students scores in each of the four language skills: listening comprehension,
writing, reading comprehension, and oral. Such a procedure would yield more
informative data, as the two groups of students might have exhibited significant
differential achievement in some skills, but not in others.
Hypotheses
Based upon the similarity of the tenets maintained by middle school and second
language acquisition philosophies, it was hypothesized that school affiliation would
influence achievement in all four language skills. Because of the presence within the
middle school setting of both philosophies, both of which stress the development of
positive student affect above all else, it was hypothesized that middle school language
achievement would exceed that of the high school. It was furthermore hypothesized
that school affiliation would also influence attitude toward the foreign language
learning experience: The attitude of the middle school students would be more
positive than that of the high school students.
To examine these hypotheses, a comparative correlational design employing a
multiple linear regression model was developed. To allow for comparison of the data
for statistical significance, the subsequent null hypotheses were submitted:
1. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest
listening comprehension.


84
core of present-day second language acquisition theory. Proponents bid "students to
examine, explore, and express their feelings as a basis for learning a foreign
language" (p. 29).
Pedagogical strategies of confluent education included student-oriented games,
interviews, simulations, debates, and the like. The students, who were encouraged to
share their own perspectives on issues, were active participants in classroom exercises.
The student-centeredness of this philosophy is reflected below in a summarization of
its goals by Galyean (1976):
1. Use of student output as the basis for language practice. This personal
content may be either cognitive (ideas, thoughts, theories) or affective
(feelings, interests, values, concerns, images).
2. High levels of student interaction and conversation.
3. The exploration of feelings and the sharing of personal affective content.
4. Awareness of "here and now" events both within an individual and within
the class, (p. 202)
Studies have yielded evidence in support of confluent education in second
language acquisition (Galyean, 1977; Jarvis & Hatfield, 1971; Savignon, 1972;
Schulz, 1977). The studies by Savignon (1972), Jarvis and Hatfield (1971), and
Schulz (1977) were all comparative studies in which one group of students was taught
via confluent education methodology and another group was exposed to traditional
textual referent instruction. There was a consensus of results among the studies: The
confluently-instructed students attained significantly higher scores on tests of oral and
written communicative competence than students taught via traditional, text-based
instruction.


57
In order for i + 1 to be comprehensible, the student must be able to garner
meaning from contextual cues. Accompanying input by visuals, realia, gestures, and
any other extralinguistic, contextual stimuli can render it more comprehensible.
Cummins (1981) hypothesized that language competency can be perceived in terms of
the degree of contextual support necessary for expressing or comprehending through a
language. Context-embedded language, or contextualized language, is reinforced by
numerous clues. Contextualized language requires the manipulation of the abilities
associated with face-to-face interaction-the monitoring of ones linguistic partner in
order to react appropriately (Snow, 1987). Examples of contextualized language
activities are physical response activities, demonstrations and descriptions, simple
games, map skills, the execution of simple directions, art projects, musical exercises,
and physical education exercises. Such activities are particularly recommended for
beginners in a language program, as they facilitate comprehension (Cummins, 1981).
Context-reduced, or decontextualized language, requires the ability to "provide a
coherent, comprehensible, informationally adequate account without signals from an
interlocutor" (Snow, 1987, p. 4). Context-reduced activities are telephone
conversations, writing lists, notes, recipes, and directions without diagrams, and the
completion of forms. Decontextualized activities can be introduced with increasing
frequency as language students gain in competency.
The importance of context in the facilitation of input comprehension has been
validated by a number of studies (Ausubel, 1968; Bransford & Johnson, 1972;
Hudson, 1982; Mueller, 1980; Omaggio, 1979, 1986). Mueller (1980) examined the


2
The Middle School Concept
The main tenet espoused by middle school philosophy is the need to develop
positive student affect; this goal may be realized by the cultivation of a learning
environment characterized by a sense of cohesiveness and belonging. Schools based
upon middle school philosophy seek to develop small "communities for learning, even
in large schools. The goals for large and small schools alike is to create responsive
environments that provide students with care and support, as well as challenging
programs that will increase their learning" (Epstein, 1990, p. 439).
A climate of belonging and caring can be augmented by advisor-advisee groups,
homeroom periods, or other similar programs (James, 1986), whose primary function
is the provision of affective education. Within these programs, each student has
access to an adult who provides the student with encouragement and counsel. The
advisory program has been found to be extremely beneficial to the students general
well-being (Burkhardt & Fusco, 1986).
Interdisciplinary teaming, another organizational structure that is unique to the
middle school, has also been developed to encourage a sense of belonging in the
students. A team is an instructional unit of four or five teachers from different
disciplines who share the same students. Teachers of the same team work together to
plan activities that best fulfill the needs of the students within their team. In addition,
the teachers attempt to convey, via integrative and thematic planning and instruction,
the interrelatedness of all course material in order to make it more meaningful to the
students. Thus, the team organization can promote a sense of academic cohesiveness
as well as socioemotional cohesiveness.


67
may consist of facial expressions, tactile responses, and the like. Longs thesis, in
essence, was that one does not acquire a language solely by being the recipient of
input. In order to acquire the language, learners must be active discourse partners
who negotiate the quality and quantity of input to which they are exposed.
A similar stance was posited by Schlesinger (1977), Carroll, Tanenhaus, and
Bever (1978), and Rivers (1987), who asserted that intensive listening alone probably
will not effect fluent and coherent production of language. They differentiated
between the skills necessary for listening comprehension and those required for speech
production. Listening comprehension requires knowledge of the communicative
context and attentiveness to the rhythm of the speakers utterances. Reliance on
semantic cues for inference of meaning is a significant factor in listening
comprehension.
The production of speech, on the contrary, originates with the speaker. The
speaker controls the discourse by selecting the level of complexity of the linguistic
components of the message. Some grammatical accuracy is necessary on the part of
the speaker in order to maintain coherent communication, whereas listeners
circumvent much of the syntax in favor of semantic factors. "This is the fundamental
difference between listening and speaking. Because of this difference, neither alone
can lead to the other in some incidental, subconscious, unfocused way (Rivers, 1987,
p. 8).
Numerous foreign language proponents (Crtese, 1987; Rivers, 1986, 1987;
Stern, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981; Wells, 1981) have concurred that interaction


35
It has been found that the early adolescent is increasingly becoming at risk
(Lipsitz, 1984; Presseisen, 1983). Seventh graders are increasingly becoming victims
of school violence. The abuse of drugs and juvenile crime escalate during this
developmental period. In addition, the rate of initial admission into mental hospitals
is increasing more dramatically for this age group than for any other age group
(Lipsitz, 1984). Such statistics underscore the need to address the socioemotional
needs of these transescents.
Middle schools are seeking to create a more caring atmosphere by developing
responsive support systems. As of 1990, about 66% of all schools that include
seventh grade had instituted a homeroom or group advisory program (Epstein &
Maclver, 1990). Termed homeroom, adyiSQ.r-adyisse, or hpmebase, these programs
facilitate the reduction of the alienation and anonymity felt by many students,
especially in larger schools (Cawelti, 1988).
In theory, the membership of an advisory group is small, averaging 20-24
students. The groups performance is facilitated by a teacher or some other adult with
whom the students fee! comfortable. The ambience is informal, intimate, and
accepting. The group usually convenes daily to address concerns of relevance to the
students. The topics are addressed by means of discussions, dramatizations,
simulations, debates, and games. These activities serve to encourage a sense of group
cohesiveness as well as the development of individuality in each member (George,
1984). Such advisory group exercises led by a caring adult have been found to have a
significant effect on other facets of the school climate and on student academic


168
Pica, T., Young, R., & Doughty, C. (1987). The impact of interaction on
comprehension. TESQL Quarterly. 21 (4), 737-758.
Porter, P. (1986). How learners talk to each other: Input and interaction in task-
centered discussions. In R. Day (Ed.), Talking to learn (pp. 200-222). Rowley,
MA: Newbury House.
Presseisen, B.Z. (1983). Adolescents: Promise of the future. Educational Horizons.
61, 151-155.
Rankin, H.J. (1969). A study of the pre- and post- attitudes and academic
achievement of student in grades five through ten in a change from a junior high
school organization to a middle school organization in a suburban school system
(Doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, NY). Dissertation Abstracts
International. 21, 982A.
Ribovich, J. (1979). The effect of informational background on various reading-
related behaviors in adults. Reading World. IS (3), 240-46.
Richard-Amato, P. (1987, April 21-25). Teacher talk in the classroom: Native and
foreigner. Paper presented at the 21st Annual Convention of TESOL, Miami
Beach, FL.
Rivers, W.M. (1983). Communicating naturally in a second language; Theory and
practice in language teaching. Cambridge, England: Oxford University Press.
Rivers, W.M. (1986). Comprehension and production in interactive language
teaching. Modem Language Journal, 7Q, (1), 1-7.
Rivers, W.M. (1987). Interaction as the key to teaching language for
communication. In W.M. Rivers (Ed.), Interactive language teaching (pp. 3-16).
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rivers, W.M. (1992). Teaching languages in college: Curriculum and content.
Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
Rivers, W., Azevedo, M.M., & Heflin, W., Jr. (1989). Teaching Spanish-A
practical guide. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.
Routt, L.L. (1975). A comparative study of sixth grade students attending junior
high/middle schools and elementary schools (Doctoral dissertation, University of
Nebraska). Dissertation Abstracts International, 36, 7329A.


98
an increasing number of second and foreign language classrooms, especially at the
elementary and middle school levels.
In addition to Natural Approach techniques, interactive teaching practices are also
being adopted by foreign/second language instructors. The incorporation of the
philosophies upon which the Natural Approach and interactive teaching are founded
reflect the current tendency to "emphasize the holistic, global, and communicative
elements of language learning" (Curtain & Pesla, 1988, p. 4). Moreover, the more
recent pedagogical practices, according to Krashen (1982), have, "as a primary goal,
the lowering of student anxiety" (p. 7).
Summary
Major principles posited by second language acquisition and middle school
philosophies are identical. Both theories seek to instill in the students a sense of
security and belonging. Interactive learning, developed by Rivers (1987), can
promote a sense of community, as the students are involved in "sharing, encouraging,
and accepting responsibility for ones own learning and that of others" (p. 10). A
sense of belonging is fostered in the middle school by interdisciplinary teaming, a
practice regarded by many (Alexander & George, 1981; Epstein & Maclver, 1990;
George, 1984; Lounsbury, 1991; McEwin & Clay, 1983) as the key organizational
component of the middle school. Cooperative learning, which has been found to
attend to the socioemotional needs of middle-level students (Alexander & George,
1981; Bosch, 1991; Brazee, 1987; Jones, 1990; Parker, 1985; Tyrrell, 1990), "has


48
Researchers at the Center for Early Adolescence in Carrboro, N.C. investigated a
number of schools that had been identified as being superior in addressing the
developmental needs of transescents (Dorman, 1983; Lipsitz, 1984). Four of these
schools were selected for further study, as all four institutions evidenced an increase in
academic achievement. The researchers scrutiny yielded middle school practices that
were shared by all four schools. The most outstanding feature was "their willingness
and ability to adapt all school practices to the individual differences in intellectual,
biological, and social maturation of their students" (Lipsitz, 1984, p. 167). Each of
these schools sought to establish a positive academic climate. The entire school
curriculum was built upon an awareness of and a commitment to the adolescents
developmental stages and characteristics.
The organizational pattern of each school was such that individual homebases or
interdisciplinary teams had been established in order to encourage a sense of
community and belonging. The team organization and greater emphasis on the
individual learner have been found to yield improved academic achievement (George
& Oldaker, 1985). The research team also concluded that personal development is
enhanced by the increased student-teacher contact time afforded by the teaming
structure. Teaming has been found to alleviate the sense of alienation and anonymity
experienced by many young adolescents (Carnegie Council on Adolescent
Development, 1989; Epstein & Maclver, 1990; Johnston & Maride, 1986;
Merenbloom, 1986).
The above findings were duplicated in an outlier study that examined the
characteristics of inner-city intermediate schools (Levine et al., 1984). Schools in


38
each others unique expertise, the team teachers ability to develop strategies to foster
student success is enhanced.
The cooperation and support permitted by the team structure encourages feelings
of camaraderie, not only among the teachers, but among the students as well (Arhar,
1990; Erb, 1987; MacIver, 1990). The students observe their team teachers working
together to determine the best instructional strategy for each member of their team.
By being privy to this cooperative activity on the part of their instructors, the students
can benefit socially as well as academically. Their teachers behavior serves as a
model of the social and employability skills that ultimately need to be developed in the
transescents.
Positive School Climate
According to middle school philosophy, the development of a positive
psychosocial environment is made possible when teachers and students regard
themselves as members of the same team, striving together to attain common goals.
The establishment of a positive climate is the basic tenet of the middle school concept,
as affirmed by George & Oldaker (1985): "Insofar as the middle school is concerned,
... all of the factors that [lead] to the ethos of caring characteristic of . .
successful schools are part and parcel of todays middle school concept" (p. 8).
Middle school advocates (Alexander & George, 1981; Epstein & Maclver, 1990;
George, 1984; National Middle School Association, 1982) have maintained that the
middle school characteristics described above are all contributors to the development
of a positive school climate. A positive school climate is one which is caring,


16
In addition to foreign language teachers, principals and district-level foreign
language specialists demonstrated an interest in the results of this study. They
indicated the desire to utilize the studys findings to assess the status of their districts
middle school Spanish I programs. As Florida continues to suffer massive budget cuts
in education, steps have been taken at the individual school level to decrease
expenditures via the reduction of curriculum offerings. At several middle schools, the
Spanish 1 course has been targeted for possible future elimination. It was hoped that
the results of the present study would provide some insight as to whether the middle
school course was effectively articulated with the high school Spanish program and
thus positively contributed to continuous language study. Successful articulation
would allow the student, upon entrance into high school, to enroll directly and
perform satisfactorily in Spanish II and ultimately to continue his/her language study
at more advanced levels, if so desired by the student or dictated by graduation
requirements.
In an effort to address some of the above concerns, the School Board of Collier
County in Florida has annually compared, since 1986, the language achievement of its
middle school eighth graders and high school students enrolled in Spanish I courses.
Each year, students have been administered the Spanish I Exam as a final exam and
the scores of both groups have been compared. A composite exam score, which has
been derived by summing the scores attained for each of the listening comprehension,
writing, reading comprehension, and oral sections, has been the score of comparison.
Upon comparing the students composite exam scores, Collier County has reported
that the middle school students consistently outperform the high school students.


7
Middle School Foreign Language Programs
The implementation of the middle school concept requires that curricular decisions
be made to best serve the pubescent student. Curricular decisions often involve the
type of foreign language instruction that should be offered at the middle school level
(Kennedy & De Lorenzo, 1985; Sherer & Biemel, 1987). As of present, there has
been no consistency in middle school foreign language offerings. "Since relatively
few programs exist in the middle schools, one finds a wide diversity of program types
and instructional patterns" (Ford & Hassel, 1983, p. 3). Middle school foreign
language courses have run the entire gamut from 6-week-long exploratory "wheel"
courses to year-long courses that follow the State of Florida Department of Education
Level I foreign language curriculum.
Florida has been no exception with regards to the variety of foreign language
courses offered within the middle school curriculum. However, a number of Florida
counties (Alachua, Brevard, Collier, Duval, Polk, St. Johns, Volusia, and others)
have expanded their foreign language curriculum to include a year-long Spanish 1
course. This course is an elective that is offered to eighth graders. It has been
designed to follow the same curriculum frameworks as those of the year-long high
school Spanish I course. These frameworks are those that have been established by
the Florida Department of Education for Spanish I, Course No. 0708340.
The Learning Environments of Middle School and High School Spanish I Students
The language achievement of students enrolled in Spanish I was the focus of this
investigation. The two Spanish 1 groups examined in this study, eighth graders within


107
Table 3-2
Middle School Demographics
School
SES White. Black.
Hispanic,
Asian.
Other
Enrollment
Structure
F-A
Middle
94%
4%
0%
1%
i%
555
Team
G-*A
Middle/
High
97%
1%
1%
1%
0%
451
Team
H-*B
Middle
82%
16%
2%
0%
0%
680
Team
\-*C
Middle
72%
28%
0%
0%
0%
1128
Team
J-*D
Lower
Middle
67%
24%
4%
5%
0%
1460
Team
K-E
Middle
84%
14%
2Sl
Q&
Q£
1635
Team
TOTALS:
80%
17%
2%
1%
0%
5909
Note. The symbol -* denotes a middle school-high school pair. For example, middle
school F feeds into high school A.
Survey responses to the inquiry concerning the length of inclusion of Spanish I in
the middle school curriculum were quite diverse. The majority of the middle school
teachers indicated that 1991-92 was the initial year of implementation. At two other
schools, the course had been part of their curriculum for at least seven years. The
Spanish instructor at yet another school reported that the course had been offered
"very intermittently" over the past 10 years.
In response to the query referring to the elective nature of middle school
Spanish I, the teachers indicated that the course was, without exception, an elective.


26
Physically, there is much variation among the students. There are voice changes,
a maturation of the sex glands, rapid, but often uneven physical growth, periods of
high energy succeeded by exhaustion, and frequent lack of coordination due to the
students unfamiliarity with their changing bodies.
There are also accompanying, though not necessarily simultaneous, intellectual
changes in the transescent. During these years, the individual usually progresses from
Piagets concrete stage of development of the elementary years to the formal (or
abstract) stage of thought (Lefrancois, 1984). The student thus becomes more capable
of experimentation with diverse ideas. The formation of concepts is now possible.
The student also progresses from very egocentric thought to a more sociocentric
perspective. Thus, since the students are at varied stages of intellectual development,
instructional methods must be extremely diverse to meet the needs and capabilities of
all of the students.
In the late 1950s, the concept of the middle school developed out of the need to
better serve this unique population of students. The actual implementation of practices
based upon the middle school concept commenced in 1963 (Kindred, Wolotkiewicz,
Mickelson, & Coplein, 1981). The junior high school had been found to be
unsatisfactory to fulfill the needs of the transescents (Alexander, 1984; Calhoun,
1983; Johnson, 1962; Lounsbury & Vars, 1978). It was determined that the junior
high school replicated, to a large degree, the programs and practices of the senior high
school. "It tended to assume a senior high school posture in teaching procedures and
curriculum" (Lounsbury & Vars, 1978, p. 20). Calhoun (1983) concurred that the


140
Hypothesis 1: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest listening comprehension.
The null hypothesis was rejected. In addition, pretest listening comprehension and
GPA were each found to be significantly related to posttest listening comprehension.
Hypothesis 2: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest writing skill.
The null hypothesis was rejected. Furthermore, significant relationships were found
between posttest writing skill and each of the variables of pretest writing skill and
GPA.
Hypothesis 3: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest reading comprehension.
The null hypothesis was rejected. The relationships between posttest reading
comprehension and pretest reading comprehension and between posttest reading
comprehension and GPA were also found to be significant.
Hypothesis 4: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest oral skill.
The null hypothesis was rejected. In addition, pretest oral skill and GPA were each
found to be significantly related to posttest oral skill.
Hypothesis 5: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
attitude toward the foreign language learning experience.
The null hypothesis was rejected. Furthermore, GPA was found to be a reliable
predictor of attitude toward the foreign language learning experience.


83
denoted by ones eagerness to respond, ones reaction to being called upon without
solicitation, and ones embarrassment in speaking French.
Ely (1986) assessed the degree to which classroom discomfort, willingness to take
risks, involvement in classroom activities, and motivation mediate success in second
language classes. The students, who were university students enrolled in first year
Spanish courses, completed a questionnaire consisting of items indicative of "language
class discomfort, language class risktaking, language class sociability, strength of
motivation, attitude toward the language class, and concern for grade." "Classroom
participation was operationalized as the number of times a student asked or answered a
question or provided information in Spanish without being individually nominated to
do so" (p. 13).
The students linguistic aptitude was measured by the Short Form of the Modem
Language Aptitude Test. Their oral fluency and oral accuracy were measured via a
story-telling exercise. "Written correctness" was indicated by the numerical score on
the standard final written exam. Ely ascertained that a strong correlation exists
between classroom participation and willingness to take risks. He concluded that
"before some students can be expected to take linguistic risks, they must be made to
feel more psychologically comfortable and safe in their learning environment" (p. 23).
Affective education in past second language pedagogy
As the above studies substantiate, the affective domain plays a significant role in
second language acquisition. Grittner (1990) concurred, alluding to the confluent
education movement of the 1970s. Although it never developed into a full-fledged
movement, the confluent education movement emphasized a philosophy that forms the


LIST OF TABLES
Table page
3-1 High School Demographics 106
3-2 Middle School Demographics 107
3-3 RBANOVA and Variance Components for Holistic Scoring of Oral
Component of Spanish I Exam 123
3-4 RBANOVA and Variance Components for Holistic Scoring of Writing
Component of Spanish I Exam 123
3-5 Generalizability Coefficients 124
4-1 Means and Standard Deviations for Pretest and Posttest Measures by School 131
4-2 Means and Standard Deviations for GPA, SES, and FLAQ by School .... 132
4-3 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Listening Comprehension 133
4-4 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Writing Skill 134
4-5 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Reading Comprehension 135
4-6 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Posttest Oral Skill 136
4-7 Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables
and Attitude Toward the Foreign Language Learning Experience ... 137
ix


128
Data Analysis
As subject data were collected, all participants were assigned a subject research
identification number. Student data were obtained on the following independent
variables: school affiliation, Spanish I Exam pretest score, GPA, and SES.
Each of the five criterion variables (scores on each of the four components of the
Spanish I Exam posttest and score on the FLAQ) was separately regressed on each
predictor variable, while statistically controlling for the other independent variables.
The multiple regression analyses tested the following null hypotheses:
1. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest
listening comprehension.
2. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest
writing skill.
3. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest
reading comprehension.
4. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and posttest oral
skill.
5. There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and attitude
toward the foreign language learning experience.
Summary
The methodology and procedures as delineated within this chapter were designed
to assess the effects of school affiliation on student language achievement and on
attitude towards the foreign language experience. The results and analysis of the data


A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE LANGUAGE ACHIEVEMENT
OF MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH I STUDENTS
By
KAREN WOLZ VERKLER
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1993


Instrumentation 112
The Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire (FLAQ) 113
Spanish I Exam 113
Reliability of Procedures 119
Reliabilities of the Multiple-Choice Sections of the Spanish I Exam . 119
Interscorer Reliabilities 119
Procedural Reliability 124
Scoring Procedures of Student Responses 125
Spanish I Exam 125
The Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire 126
Experimental Design 126
Data Analysis 128
Summary 128
4 RESULTS 130
Results 131
Summary 138
5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 139
Findings 139
Discussion 141
School Affiliation and Posttest Performance 141
School Affiliation and Attitude Toward the Foreign Language
Learning Experience 142
Pretest 143
GPA 144
SES 144
Implications 144
Recommendations 147
Summary 148
APPENDICES
A FOREIGN LANGUAGE ATTITUDE QUESTIONNAIRE EXCERPTS . 151
B SPANISH 1 EXAM EXCERPTS: PART I LISTENING
COMPREHENSION 152
C SPANISH I EXAM EXCERPTS: PART III READING
COMPREHENSION 153
vii


115
Once the items had been selected, the committee discussed what proportion of the
examination should be devoted to each objective on the basis on what was taught and
its relative significance in the Spanish I course. Following the development of test
specifications, the test began to take form. In order to facilitate scoring, it was
decided to utilize a multiple-choice format for the listening comprehension and reading
comprehension components of the examination. Scoring of these sections of the exam
would be accomplished by means of NCS scanner machines.
The nature of the writing and oral sections precluded a multiple-choice testing
structure. Students were required to compose paragraphs for the writing section and
to orally describe a picture for the speaking component. These segments necessitated
holistic assessment.
Scoring of the writing and oral components, as they were not objective in nature,
required prior teacher training. Training sessions in holistic scoring were conducted
for the Spanish teachers by Schmelz (personal communication, February 6, 1992).
Actual compositions written during the year by Spanish I students at both the middle
school and high school levels were utilized during these sessions. The teachers
evaluated the papers, discussed their assessments, reevaluated the papers, and
discussed them again until consistency in scoring began to develop. A holistic rubric
delineating guidelines for the assessment of topic coverage, vocabulary, mechanics,
and structural/grammatical features was developed. Interrater reliability indices of the
holistic assessment were not determined during test development, but were determined
by the researcher prior to the pretest administration in the present study.


137
respectively). The t statistic of 1(162) = 1.38, p> .05, for the relationship between
SES and posttest oral skill was not significant.
Hypothesis 5 was tested by means of a multiple linear regression analysis
consisting of the following predictor variables: school affiliation, GPA, and SES.
The criterion variable was the score on the FLAQ.
Hypothesis 5: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
attitude toward the foreign language learning experience.
The 1 statistic for the relationship between school affiliation and attitude toward
the foreign language learning experience was 1(162) = -2.40 (see Table 4-7). This
statistic was significant at the .05 level, thus permitting rejection of the null
hypothesis. The parameter estimate of -6.26 indicates that, on the average, high
school attitude toward the foreign language learning experience was 6 points less than
middle school attitude, controlling for the other predictor variables.
Table 4-7
Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables and Attitude
Toward the Foreign Language Learning Experience
Source
df
Parameter Estimate
Standard Error
1
School
1
-6.26
2.61
-2.40*
GPA
1
8.13
2.00
4.07**
SES
1
7.21
5.39
1.34
Note.
The overall test of significance was F
= 11.64 with d£ =
3,160.
*p<.05. **p<.01.



PAGE 1

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81,9(56,7< 2) )/2D'$


94
interviews, all of which are based on the students interests, concerns, and needs. In
the final phase, speech emerges in personalized problem-solving, affective,
humanistic, and recreational exercises.
Interactive Language Teaching
The Natural Approach tends not to be implemented in its purest form in most
current foreign language programs. Although foreign language instructors
acknowledge that development of listening skills naturally precedes the emergence of
speech, few make provisions for a silent period within their curriculum. This
exclusion is frequently a result of time constraints, as secondary school language
programs currently tend to stress the fulfillment of behavioral objectives within a
predetermined period of time. The present goals and structure of foreign language
curricula do not lend themselves to the allotment of several weeks or months for
nonspeech production in the students.
A silent period may also be omitted from foreign language curricula because of its
contradiction to beliefs about language acquisition held by numerous second/foreign
language educators and researchers (Bissex, 1981; Carroll et al., 1978; Crtese, 1987;
Long, 1985; Rivers, 1987, 1992; Schlesinger, 1977; Stem, 1983; Stevick, 1976,
1980, 1981; Strong, 1983; Swain, 1985; Wells, 1981). The view posited by these
foreign and second language proponents has been that language is acquired via the
interactive communicative exchanges between linguistic partners in a highly
contextualized, meaningful setting.


59
There were three experimental conditions for the type of text that was presented to
the students. The subjects were either provided with no textual material (they were
thus forced to glean meaning solely from the pictorial contexts), a 650-word text
written in French, or the same text written in English. The students indicated their
comprehension of the material via the composition in English of a summary of the
passage and the completion of a 20-item multiple-choice/true-false test in English on
the passage.
Omaggio found no significant differences in the performance of the students
reading the text in English, regardless of the pictorial contextual condition with which
they were presented. However, significant differences in reading comprehension were
found for those students who read the same text in French. As noted by Omaggio
(1986):
The pictorial contexts used as advance organizers had a significant effect:
those subjects who had the picture depicting action from the beginning of
the story were at a significant advantage over all the others in the French
textual conditions. . The advantage of having pictures with the French
text must have been due to the fact that they served as an advance organizer
or script activator, allowing students to retrieve a relevant schema from
their cognitive structure to aid in the comprehension process, (p. 106)
Hudson (1982) also examined the effects of advance organizers on reading
comprehension. The students in his study were ESL (English as a Second Language)
students who were randomly assigned to three experimental groups. In one group, the
students read a passage, were administered a test on the passage, read the passage
again, and were re-administered the test. In the second group, a vocabulary list was
presented to the students prior to reading the passage and being tested. The third


appreciative of the county and school administrators and principals who allowed me to
conduct research within their schools. I wish to thank the Spanish teachers and
guidance counselors for their invaluable cooperation and assistance in test
administration and data collection. I am additionally grateful to the teachers for
permitting me to utilize their Spanish 1 classes in this investigation. Special thanks are
also extended to Sandy Bierkan, Trish Bowman, and Chris Eldredge for the
contribution of their time and expertise in the scoring of the Spanish I exams.
The completion of this dissertation would have been impossible without the love,
support, and sacrifice of some very special individuals. My weekly commute away
from home was facilitated by my brother-in-law, John Verkler, and my dear friend,
Debbie Noxon, who generously provided me with "homes away from home." 1 am
grateful for the love and pride shown by my daughter, Erin. I am also appreciative of
the numerous secretarial tasks that she performed, saving me countless hours
of additional work. Finally, 1 am most greatly indebted to my husband, Jim Verkler,
whose support, both emotional and financial, encouraged me to take one of the biggest
steps in my professional career-the pursuit of a doctoral degree. His love and faith in
me have been an unending source of motivation in the completion of this degree.
IV


173
Wong-Fillmore, L. (1985). When does teacher talk work as input? In S. M. Gass &
C.G. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 17-58). New
York: Newbury House.
Wood, F.H. (1973). Comparison of student attitudes in junior high and middle
schools. High School Journal. 56 (8), 355-361.


33
philosophy: (a) it serves to fulfill the cognitive, physical, and socioemotional needs of
the adolescent, (b) it provides numerous opportunities for experimentation and
creativity, and (c) it facilitates the development of a positive self-concept. She
elaborated: "Developing a students self concept is a key mission of the middle
school philosophy, and the exploratory program allows the emerging adolescent the
opportunity to develop a positive image of himself/herself" (p. 30).
The exploratory program, because of heterogeneous grouping practices, provides
the opportunity for students of varied abilities to work together and learn from one
other. The numerous hands-on, personalized, and interactive activities that tend to
characterize exploratory courses permit the sharing of skills in a social environment.
Such exercises can greatly augment the students cooperative and collaborative
learning strategies (Jones, 1990; Kagan, 1985).
The exploratory curriculum is generally composed of a number of special interest
courses that can range in duration from a few weeks to a year. Typical exploratory
courses are art, industrial arts, home economics, business, music, band, and foreign
languages.
According to the middle school philosophy, exploratory options need to be
numerous and of relatively short duration in order to allow the students to experience
many different areas of interest as well as to accommodate their rapidly changing
interests (Alexander & George, 1981). Theoretically, the exploratory courses should
consist of practical, hands-on experiences (Davis, 1987). Such activities present the
students with a more accurate portrayal of the types of skills and situations to be
encountered in different fields of interest at the secondary level.


93
The effects of different instructional procedures, one based on communicative
contexts and the other on generic, grammatical sequences, on language acquisition
were examined by Jarvis and Hatfield (1971). They were interested in comparing the
effectiveness of each approach relative to the acquisition of first-semester college
students enrolled in French classes. During the course of a semester, half of the
students were exposed to a drill treatment in which they were required to provide cued
responses to a stimulus. The utterances represented the generic meaning of concepts
and were generated in the absence of concrete referents. The remainder of the
students, who received a contextual treatment, practiced language structures which had
particularized referential symbolism. "The Contextual classes practiced primarily
through question-and-answer and discussion, taking advantage of all possible
environmental referents" (p. 403). Scores on the Modern Language Aptitude Test
indicated significant differences between the two groups in language acquisition, with
the results favoring the contextual treatment group.
The provision of contextualized, meaningful, and personalized comprehensible
input in an effort to lower the affective filter underlies all three stages of the Natural
Approach. The first stage is that of listening comprehension, during which the focus
is on the provision of an accepting, positive atmosphere to facilitate the lowering of
the students affective filter. This phase is characterized by TPR, student-oriented
activities, and numerous paralinguistic, highly-contextualized stimuli. After five to
ten hours of listening comprehension, early speech production is encouraged. This
stage consists of open-ended sentences, simple questions/answers, dialogues, and


89
readiness for speech production. According to Asher, children develop listening skills
by their physical response to verbalizations typically given in the form of parental
directives. Speech production naturally emerges following a period of listening
comprehension and can be expected only when children develop a readiness to speak.
Ashers brain lateralization hypothesis recommends that the right hemisphere be
initially tapped in second language instruction. The Total Physical Response, as it
requires the student to physically respond to imperatives supplied by the instructor, is
founded upon this hypothesis. Ashers final hypothesis, the stress-reduction
hypothesis, proposes that stress reduction in the learner will occur as long as
consideration is given to the students bio-program for language development. That
is, the lowering of ones affective filter will be realized if instruction is coordinated
with the natural sequence of language acquisition as dictated by the students bio-
program (Krashen, 1982).
The Total Physical Response consists of the physical execution of commands
given by the instructor. The students remain silent in the early stages of performing
the commands, but eventually initiate their own commands when they have developed
a readiness for speech production. The directives are meticulously sequenced in order
to introduce only three or four new expressions at a time. They progress from simple
requests to lexically and syntactically more complex imperatives.
The effectiveness of TPR in facilitating second language acquisition has been the
topic of research spanning a period of two decades (Asher, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1972;
Asher, Kusudo, & de la Torre, 1974; Swaffer & Woodruff, 1978; Wolfe & Jones,


129
are presented within Chapter 4. A discussion of the results, their implications, and
recommendations for further study can be found in Chapter 5.


134
Hypothesis 2: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest writing skill.
The analysis of the relationship between school affiliation and posttest writing skill
resulted in a t statistic of 1(162) = -2.09 (see Table 4-4). Because this statistic was
significant at the .05 level, the null hypothesis was rejected. The parameter estimate
of -1.24 indicated that, while controlling for the other independent variables, high
school students scored an average of 1.24 points below middle school students on
writing skill.
As can be noted in Table 4-4, significant relationships between pretest and posttest
writing skills (li62voi = 6.77) and between GPA and posttest writing skill (l162t0i =
5.59) were found. A 1 test of the relationship between SES and posttest writing skill
yielded a nonsignificant I statistic of t(162) = 0.94, p> .05.
Table 4-4
Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables and Posttest
Writing Skill
Source
df
Parameter Estimate
Standard Error
t
School
1
-1.24
0.59
-2.09*
Writing
1
0.78
0.12
6.77**
Pretest
GPA
1
2.46
0.44
5.59**
SES
1
1.13
1.21
0.94
Note. The overall test of significance was F
= 29.79 with df =
4,159.
*p< .05. **p< .01.


157
Bransford, J., & Johnson, M. (1972). Contextual prerequisites for understanding:
Some investigations of comprehension and recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and
Verbal Behavior. H, 717-726.
Brazee, E.N. (1987). Exploration in the "regular" curriculum. In E.N. Brazee
(Ed.), Exploratory curriculum for the middle level (pp. 33-38). Rowley, MA:
The New England League of Middle Schools.
Brown, H.D. (1977). Cognitive and affective characteristics of good language
learners. In C. Henning (Ed.), Proceedings of the Los Angeles Research Forum
(pp. 349-54). Los Angeles: University of California at Los Angeles.
Brown, R. (1973). A first language. Cambridge: Harvard Press.
Brown, R. (1977). Introduction to Snow and Ferguson. In C. Snow & C. Ferguson
(Eds.), Talking to children (pp. 1-27). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, W.V. (1976). Implementing a climate for learning. Middle School Journal.
2, 8-9.
Burkhardt, R.M., & Fusco, E. (1986). Advisory: An advocacy program for
students. In M. James (Ed.), Advisor-advisee programs: Why, what and how
(pp. 21-29). Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.
Calhoun, F.S. (1983). Organization of the middle grades: A summary of research.
Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service, Inc.
Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development. (1989). Turning points: Preparing
Americas, youth for the 21st ceolmY (The Report of the Task Force on
Education of Young Adolescents). New York: Carnegie Corporation. (ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 312 322)
Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development. (1990). Changing middle schools for
the future. The Education Digest. 12-14.
Carroll, J. (1963). The prediction of success in intensive foreign language training.
In R. Glazer (Ed.), Training.re,ssargh^asd education (pp. 87-136). Pittsburgh:
University of Pittsburgh Press.
Carroll, J. (1966). The contributions of psychological theory and educational
research to the teaching of foreign languages. In A. Valdman (Ed.), Trends in
language teaching (pp. 93-106). New York: McGraw-Hill.


109
frequently contain students that are not ninth graders, these students were excluded
from the study in order to rule out any age-difference confounding influences on the
results of the study.
High school curriculum is typically segregated into three different tracks:
vocational, general, and academic, or college preparatory. The tracks are
differentiated by their ultimate goals of instruction which, in turn, dictate course
requirements. In the majority of Florida school districts, the graduation requirements
for students in the general and academic tracks include two consecutive years of the
same foreign language. Although two years of the same foreign language is a
requirement, the choice of foreign language is not. Students typically make their
selection from among several foreign languages.
Middle School
The remaining 107 subjects were middle school eighth graders enrolled in
Spanish I, Course No. 0708340. Because a number of the middle schools have
specified prerequisites for enrollment in this course (e.g., the attainment of an "A" in
reading the previous year), the average academic achievement level of middle school
Spanish I students tends to be higher than that of high school Spanish I students.
Furthermore, the elective nature of the middle school Spanish 1 course affords student
choice in enrollment.
Even though the high school student receives one Carnegie unit towards high
school graduation upon completion of the Spanish I course, the middle school student
who completes the equivalent course is not always accorded this unit. The granting of


156
Asher, J. (1972). Childrens first language as a model for second language learning.
Modem Language Journal. 56, 133-139.
Asher, J. (1977). Learning another language through actions; The,complete
teachers guide. Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Publications.
Asher, J. (1979). Motivating children and adults to acquire a second language.
Journal of the Society for the Promotion of English Instruction in Quebec, 2
(3-4), 87-99.
Asher, J. (1982). Learning another language through actions; The complete
teachers guidebook (2nd ed.). Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.
Asher, J., & Garcia, R. (1969). The optimal age to learn a foreign language.
Modem Language Journal. 2, 334-341.
Asher, J., Kusudo, J., & de la Torre, R. (1974). Learning a second language
through commands: The second field test. Modem Language Journal. 28 (102),
24-32.
Asher, J., & Price, B. (1967). The learning strategy of Total Physical Response:
Some age differences. Child Development. 28, 1219-1227.
Ausubel, D. (1968). Educational psychology: A cognitive view. New York: Holt,
Rinehart, and Winston.
Barnes, D. (1976). From communication to curriculum. Harmondsworth, England:
Penguin.
Becker, H.J. (1990). Curriculum and instruction in middle-grade schools. Phi Delta
Kappan. 71 (6), 450-457.
Bejarano, Y. (1987). A cooperative small-group methodology in the language
classroom. TESOL Quarterly. 21, 483-504.
Bialystok, E. & Frohlich, M. (1977). Aspects of second language learning in
classroom settings. Working Papers on Bilingualism, 12, 1-26.
Bissex, G. (1981). Growing writers in classrooms. Language Arts. 18, 787.
Borg, W.R., & Gall, M.D. (1989). Educational research: An introduction (5th
ed.). New York: Longman.
Bosch, K.A. (1991). Cooperative learning: Instruction and procedures to assist
middle school teachers. Middle School Journal. 22, 34-39.


CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of school affiliation on
student language proficiency and on attitude toward the foreign language learning
experience. Language achievement in four areas-listening comprehension, writing
skill, reading comprehension, and oral skill-was assessed by a Spanish I Exam at the
beginning and end of the school year. At the end of the school year, attitude toward
the foreign language instructional experience was evaluated by the Foreign Language
Attitude Questionnaire.
The study design was a comparative correlational design employing a multiple
regression analysis model. Each posttest measure was separately regressed on each
predictor variable (school affiliation, corresponding pretest measure, GPA, and SES),
while controlling for the effects of the other variables. Regression analysis was also
utilized in examining the relationship between school affiliation and attitude toward the
foreign language learning experience (as measured by the FLAQ), while controlling
for GPA and SES. One hundred seven middle school students and 57 high school
students enrolled in Spanish I classes participated in the investigation.
Findings
Five separate multiple linear regression analyses were used to examine the
subsequent null hypotheses:
139


8
a middle school environment and high school ninth graders, differed perhaps to the
greatest degree with respect to their school environment. The philosophies and
organizational patterns of middle schools and high schools are different. High schools
tend to be much larger than middle schools. More often than not, they are
departmentalized, "under a structure highly fractionated horizontally by age group and
vertically by program track. The program revolves around subjects taught by
specialists-another element of fragmentation-and the students cover a succession of
topics each day" (Sizer, 1984, p. 679). The high school is organized in such a way as
to maximize the delivery of the material of the academic disciplines (Alexander &
George, 1981). "Secondary schools ... are content-oriented. The subject matter
holds precedence over the persons who enter our classrooms" (Allen, 1987).
This is contrary to the philosophy of the middle school, which maintains that the
primary goal of education is enhancement of student attitude and self-concept.
Instruction must attend, above all else, to the needs of the learner. The academic
achievement of the middle school student is seen as an inevitable consequence once
these needs have been addressed.
An equivalent goal of "lowering ones affective filter" has been professed by
current second language acquisition theory. Learners demonstrate an increase in
language achievement when they feel comfortable in the instructional setting-when
their affective filters have been lowered and the language acquisition device is
activated (Krashen, 1982).


162
George, P. (1984). Middle school instructional organization: An emerging
consensus. In J. Lounsbury (Ed.), Perspectives: Middle school education. 1964-
1984 (pp. 52-67). Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.
George, P., & Lawrence, G. (1982). Handbook for middle school teaching.
Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, and Company.
George, P.S., & Oldaker, L.L. (1985). Evidence for the middle school. Columbus,
OH: National Middle School Association.
Grittner, F. M. (1990). Bandwagons revisited: A perspective on movements in
foreign language education. In D. W. Birckbichler (Ed.), New perspectives and
new directions in foreign language education (pp. 9-43). Lincolnwood, IL:
National Textbook Company.
Hancock, C.R. (1972). Student aptitude, attitude, and motivation. In D.L. Lange
(Ed.), Foreign language education: A reappraisal (pp. 127-155). Skokie, IL:
National Textbook Company.
Hass, G. (1987). Curriculum planning: A new approach (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn
& Bacon, Inc.
Hatch, E. (1983). Psycholinguistics: A second language perspective. Rowley, MA:
Newbury House.
Heyde, A.W. (1977). The relationship between self-esteem and the oral production
of a second language. In H.D. Brown, C.A. Yorio, & R.H. Crymes (Eds.), On
TESQ.L 77, Teaching and learning English as a second language; Trends in
research and practice (pp. 226-240). Washington, DC: Teachers of English to
Speakers of Other Languages.
Hillman, S. (1991). What developmental psychology has to say about early
adolescence. Middle School Journal. 21 (1), 3-8.
Hudson, T. (1982). The effects of induced schemata on the short circuit in L2
reading: Non-decoding factors in L2 reading performance. Language Learning.
12, 1*31.
Jakobovits, L.A. (1970). Foreign language learning; A psycholinguists analysis of
the issues. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Jakobovits, L.A., & Gordon, B. (1974). The context of foreign language teaching.
Rowley, MA: Newbury House.


124
Table 3-5
Generalizability Coefficients
B'r
Writing
Oral
1
.81
.70
2
.90
.83
3
.93
.88
Note. n'R denotes the number of raters whose scores were utilized in
the computation of the generalizability coefficient.
A G-coefficient of .80 was established as a cutoff point for acceptable reliability
of the holistic ratings. On the basis of this cutoff, the researcher determined that in
order to achieve a satisfactory degree of dependability, and consequently
generalizability, in scoring, two raters would be required to evaluate the oral
production of each student. However, since all of the G-coefficients for the writing
section exceeded the cutoff value, it was concluded that one rater would be sufficient
for the holistic assessment of the writing component of each student.
Procedural Reliability
All instructors were provided with identical directions to be read to all students
during test administration. Standardization of procedures was further attempted by
means of tape recording the stimulus expressions and paragraphs in the listening
comprehension section of the Spanish I Exam. It is common practice for foreign
language teachers to administer the listening comprehension section of tests by reading
the phrases and paragraphs to the students. However, as teachers foreign language


14
numerous articles and books about foreign language instruction, also indicated an
interest in the results of the present investigation. In her letter she expressed the view
that the study would "certainly benefit many. Teachers often debate whether students
in the two settings learn equivalent amounts of foreign language.
Curtain (personal communication, November 20, 1991), Foreign Language
Curriculum Specialist of the Milwaukee Public Schools and author of a variety of
foreign language books and articles, upon receiving a description of the present study,
responded by stating:
I think the subject of your dissertation is a worthy one and very much
needed. Too many school districts equate two years of middle school
foreign language instruction on an alternating day sequence [or one
year of middle school foreign language instruction on a daily basis]
with one year of high school instruction. This ignores the fact that
middle school students are developmentally at a different stage than
high school students and need a more activity-oriented approach.
I would very much appreciate hearing about the results of your
study. 1 think that it can have valuable implications for the
improvement of foreign language programming throughout the country.
The findings of this study were also of interest to a number of Florida high school
foreign language teachers. They expressed concern regarding whether middle school
students indeed achieve at a level comparable to high school students in Spanish I.
Many of these teachers maintained that middle school philosophy promotes a sense of
playfulness and lack of seriousness on the part of the student, particularly when
enrolled in exploratory classes. Middle school personnel have been accused of
"babying the students too much (George and Oldaker, 1985).
This sentiment may have stemmed from a misperception of the middle school
tenet that middle schoolers need opportunities for extensive exploration in order to


112
schools must imply a strong effect of schools that is independent of the
child's immediate social environment, and that strong independent effect
is not present in American schools, (p. 325)
Socioeconomic status was determined by whether or not a student was a recipient
of free/reduced lunch. Low SES was denoted by the reception of free or reduced
lunch; conversely, high SES was descriptive of all other students.
Because most of the middle schools required some demonstration of academic
success prior to enrollment in Spanish I, GPA was included in the regression analysis.
As a result of this requisite, the average GPA of Spanish I middle schoolers exceeded
that of high school Spanish I students. Regression analysis afforded the assessment of
the performance of both groups on the FLAQ and posttest components, controlling for
the effects of GPA. GPA was computed by averaging all of the final grades attained
by a student at the end of the previous school year.
Information about these two variables, GPA and SES, was available in the student
cumulative folders in the guidance department of each school. The guidance
counselors and/or participating Spanish I instructors at most of the schools made
arrangements to secure that information themselves and forward it to the researcher.
In the event that school personnel at a particular school were unable or unwilling to
procure the data themselves, the researcher was granted access to the cumulative
folders.
Instrumentation
Two types of instruments were utilized in this study: a Foreign Language
Attitude Questionnaire and a Spanish I Exam. Both instruments were selected after an


113
extensive search was conducted for assessment measures appropriate to this study. A
description of each of these instruments and reliability and validity information
relative to each measure are provided.
The Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire (FLAQ)
Developed by Moskowitz (1981), the FLAQ assesses student attitudes toward the
target language of the course, the foreign language instructor, and experiences while
in the foreign language class. Students indicate along a 7-point continuum their
responses to each of the 13 items on the questionnaire (see Appendix A for excerpts).
Lower figures represent negative attitudinal values; conversely, figures at the opposite
extreme of the scale are indicative of a more positive attitude.
The internal consistency of the instrument, calculated by Moskowitz utilizing
Hoyts method, was found to be .76. A corrected reliability of .93 was attained via
the Spearman-Brown formula.
Spanish 1 Exam
The researcher sought to find a Spanish I Exam that was appropriate for middle
school and high school students, that assessed the Spanish I, Course No. 0708340,
student performance standards, that was relatively easy to administer, and that tested
all four language skills-listening comprehension, writing, reading comprehension, and
oral. Nationwide correspondence and phone calls to university-level foreign language
faculty, test development associations, and state and county foreign language
curriculum coordinators yielded a dearth of language assessment instruments that met


Positive School Climate 38
Conclusion 39
The Effectiveness of the Middle School Concept 39
Early Research Findings: Student Attitudes 40
Early Research Findings: Academic Achievement 43
Later Studies: Comparative Studies 45
Later Research Studies: Outlier Studies 46
Summary 49
Second Language Acquisition Theory 49
The Acquisition-Learning Distinction 50
Natural Order Hypothesis 52
Monitor Hypothesis 54
Input Hypothesis 55
Caretaker Speech 61
The Comprehensible Input Controversy 64
The Role of Interaction in the Provision of Comprehensible Input . 66
Affective Filter Hypothesis 71
Motivation and Attitudinal Factors 75
Self-confidence 79
Anxiety 81
Affective Education in Past Second Language Pedagogy 83
Summary 85
Implementation of Second Language Acquisition Theory in the
Second Language Classroom 87
The Natural Approach 87
The Total Physical Response 88
Principles of the Total Physical Response and the Natural Approach 91
Interactive Language Teaching 94
An Eclectic Approach 97
Summary 98
3 METHODS AND PROCEDURES 102
Introduction 102
Setting Selection 102
Setting Descriptions 105
High Schools 105
Middle Schools 106
Subject Selection 108
Subject Description 108
High School 108
Middle School 109
Data Collection 110
vi


TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii
LIST OF TABLES ix
ABSTRACT x
CHAPTERS
1 INTRODUCTION 1
Background of the Study 1
The Middle School Concept 2
The Effectiveness of the Middle School 3
Current Second Language Acquisition Theory 5
Middle School Foreign Language Programs 7
The Learning Environments of Middle School and High School
Spanish I Students 7
Statement of the Problem 9
Significance of the Study 12
Hypotheses 17
Definition of Terms 18
Delimitations 19
Limitations 19
Summary 21
Organization of the Dissertation 23
2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 24
The Middle School Concept 25
Middle School Practices 29
Educators Knowledgeable about and Committed to Transescents 29
Varied Pedagogical Techniques 30
A Comprehensive Exploratory Program 32
Extensive Advising and Counseling 34
Cooperative Planning 36
v


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This dissertation is the culmination of several years of intensive course work and
research whose completion has been facilitated by the encouragement, advice, and
assistance of many people. 1 wish to extend thanks to the chair of my doctoral
committee, Dr. Clemens L. Hallman, for his support and unyielding faith in me. I
would like to thank Dr. David Miller for his invaluable assistance and advice on the
design and statistical analysis of this study, his availability and patience, and his words
of encouragement. 1 also wish to thank Dr. Jeff Hurt for his candid feedback,
willingness to assist me, and his support in the completion of this study. To Dr. Lee
Mullally, 1 express my deepest appreciation for his friendship, guidance, inspiration,
generosity in giving freely of his time and gift of humor. His educational convictions
have made an impact that will remain with me long after I leave the University of
Florida to resume my professional career.
Special gratitude is also extended to Jo Johnson, Multilingual and Multicultural
Program Assistant, for her wise counsel and friendship. Her optimism and sense of
humor helped to make the frustrating times more bearable.
Thanks are extended to Bernice Schmelz, Collier County Coordinator of Language
Arts, for providing me with background information relative to this study and for
granting me permission to use the Collier County Spanish I Final Exam. I am
iii


133
comprehension. Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected. The parameter estimate
of -1.48 indicated that, controlling for the effects of the other predictor variables, the
average high school posttest listening comprehension score was 1.48 less than that of
the middle school.
Table 4-3
Listening Comprehension
Source
4f
Parameter Estimate
Standard Error
t
School
1
-1.48
0.45
-3.31*
Listening
Comp Pretest
1
0.43
0.56
7.76*
GPA
1
1.50
0.33
4.56*
SES
1
-0.24
0.90
-0.26
Note. The overall test of significance was E 37.00 with df = 4,159.
*|2< .01.
There were also significant relationships found between pretest and posttest
listening comprehension (t162,.oi = 7.76) and between GPA and posttest listening
comprehension (ti62,.oi = 4.56). SES was not found to be a significant predictor of
performance on the listening comprehension section of the posttest (ti62 = -0.26,
p> .05). Thus, pretest listening comprehension and GPA, but not SES, are reliable
predictors of posttest listening comprehension.


28
environment of approval and counsel to facilitate student self-understanding. The
curriculum should assist the student in tackling his/her major developmental task of
adolescencethe development of a sense of identity (Hillman, 1991).
McDonough (1991) further elaborated upon the need to address within the middle
school curriculum the students self-identification and the integration of his or her
experiences with the environment. She stressed that the curriculum should seek to
assist one in understanding ones function in society, deriving meaning from ones
own experiences and those of others, more fully understanding ones relationships
with others, and striving "for self-actualization within a personal and global context"
(pp. 32-33).
There are a number of practices that are advocated to provide an instructional
climate by which the above goals may be realized. The practices that are actually
implemented by specific middle schools vary depending upon the beliefs, actual
facilities, financial resources, and practicality within the school community.
However, a task force commissioned by the National Middle School Association
(1982) determined that the following characteristics are indicative of a "true" middle
school:
1. Educators knowledgeable about and committed to transescents
2. A balanced curriculum based on transescent needs
3. A range of organizational arrangements
4. Varied pedagogical techniques
5. A comprehensive exploratory program


132
Table 4-2
Means and Standard Deviations tor GPA. SES. and FLAP by School
Variables
Middle School
(N=107)
High School*1
(N=57)
GPA
M
3.33
2.85
SD
0.52
0.69
SES
M
0.05
0.05
sa
0.21
0.23
FLAQ
M
58.05
47.91
m
15.02
16.34
Middle school denotes eighth graders. bHigh school denotes ninth graders.
Hypotheses 1 through 4 were tested individually by means of four multiple linear
regression analyses. The analyses separately regressed each posttest measure on each
of the predictor variables (school affiliation, GPA, SES, and score on the Spanish 1
Exam pretest), while controlling for the effects of the other variables. The results of
the regression analyses are indicated on a hypothesis-by-hypothesis basis.
Hypothesis 1: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest listening comprehension.
As indicated by Table 4-3, the regression analysis yielded a significant
relationship, 1(162) = -3.31, p< .01, between school affiliation and posttest listening


36
achievement (Epstein and Maclver, 1990). "When children have adults around them
who are responsive to their problems and with whom they can share success, the
environment of the school is much more inviting to success" (Burkhardt & Fusco,
1986, p. 27).
Cooperative Planning
Cooperative planning typically necessitates the formation of interdisciplinary teams
to facilitate the planning of lessons. An interdisciplinary team most commonly refers
to the grouping of academic teachers (one teacher each from the disciplines of
language arts, math, science, and social studies) in a common area with the same
students and planning period. One of the functions of this arrangement is the
encouragement of integrative and thematic planning and instruction. Integrative
planning and instruction serve to demonstrate the interrelatedness of all course
material in order to increase its meaningfulness to the students (Curtain & Pesla,
1988).
The interdisciplinary team, considered by many (Alexander & George, 1981;
Epstein & Maclver, 1990; George, 1984; Lounsbury, 1991; McEwin & Clay, 1983)
to be the key organizational component of the middle school, also functions to
encourage a sense of belonging in the students. The goal of the team concept is to
create small community units with which the students can identify (Carnegie Council
on Adolescent Development, 1990; Epstein, 1990; Epstein & Maclver, 1990; Lipsitz,
1984). The team structure allows the students and teachers to develop close


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE LANGUAGE ACHIEVEMENT OF MIDDLE
SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH I STUDENTS
By
Karen Wolz Verkler
December, 1993
Chairman: Clemens L. Hallman
Major Department: Instruction and Curriculum
Many Florida middle schools offer to eighth graders a year-long Spanish I course
that typically adheres to the same curriculum as that of Spanish I at the high school
level. Foreign language educators have frequently questioned whether middle school
Spanish I students, whose school setting differs greatly from the high school
environment, achieve language proficiency equivalent to that of high school Spanish I
students. This study was conducted to determine the effects of school affiliation on
the level of language competency attained by middle school and high school students.
Competency in all four language skillslistening comprehension, writing, reading
comprehension, and oral-was measured. Possible differences between the two groups
in attitude toward the foreign language learning experience were also examined.
The subjects in this study were 107 middle school eighth graders and 57 high
school ninth graders enrolled in Spanish I classes in four Florida school districts. At
x


123
Table 3-3
RBANOVA and Variance Components for Holistic Scoring of
Oral Component of Spanish I Exam
Source
di
ss
MS
S2
Rating
2
28.64
14.32
.54a
Subject
21
429.83
20.47
5.98b
Residual (RxS)
42
106.40
2.53
2,53e
Total
65
564.87
Sx = 2.95
Sx2 = 8.69
Variance components for the rating, subject, and residual variables were derived by
means of the following equations:
3^ = (MSr MSres)/^
**3^s = (MSg MSrbsVur
^ RES MSres
Table 3-4
RBANOVA and Variance Components for Holistic Scoring of
Writing Component of Spanish 1 Exam
Source
d£
SS
MS
a2
Rating
2
.30
.15
-0a
Subject
19
181.26
9.54
2.95b
Residual (RxS)
38
26.03
.69
,69c
Total
59
207.59
Sx = 1.88
Sx2 = 3.52
Note. The variance component for rating was negative, but following the
recommendation of Cronbach et al. (1972), it was set to zero.
Variance components for the rating, subject, and residual variables were derived by
means of the following equations:
= (MSr MSRES)/ns
Vs = (MSs MSRES)/nR
V RES = M Spire


51
of the rule governing a particular grammatical expression. The accuracy or
inaccuracy of the expression is merely sensed by the learner due to its repeated usage
in a communicative setting.
Contrary to acquisition, learning a second language results from a conscious effort
to learn rules in a formalized, highly-structured instructional situation. Learning (or
explicit or formal learning) can also be described as learning about a language
whereby one receives explicit information about the operation of language structures.
According to Krashen, the learning and acquisition processes function
independently. Furthermore, Krashen has contended that what is "learned via
conscious, deliberate language study is unavailable for initiating utterances in the
second language. McLaughlin (1979) has taken exception to the acquisition-learning
distinction. He has maintained that this distinction does not account for the actual
cognitive processing that occurs in language development. He has proposed that
becoming proficient in a second language requires two different types of processing:
controlled processing and automatic processing. When an individual is initially
learning new material, he/she is consciously attempting to learn the material. The
process activates a temporary series of nodes in short-term memory. Such processing
requires the active attention of the learner. Learning, McLaughlin has argued,
constitutes the transfer of material from short-term to long-term memory. Since
controlled processes regulate the flow of information into long-term memory, they
underlie all learning.


86
tenets of the theory are issues of contention, such as Krashen's silent period and the
learning-acquisition distinction, the general conclusion underlying the preponderance
of research is that second language acquisition is greatly facilitated by exposure to
comprehensible input in a nonthreatening linguistic environment. As Krashen (1982)
has maintained:
The true causative variables in second language acquisition derive from the
input hypothesis and the affective filter the amount of comprehensible input
the acquirer receives and understands, and the strength of the affective filter,
or the degree to which the acquirer is open to the input, (p. 9)
The addition of an interaction variable to the input-affective filter equation has
been proposed by numerous researchers (Bissex, 1981; Crtese, 1987; Neu, 1991;
Rivers, 1983, 1986; Stem, 1983; Stevick, 1976, 1980, 1981; Strong, 1983; Wells,
1981). Although he has hailed the superior role of comprehensible input, Krashen
(1985a) has conceded that comprehensible output and interaction can also benefit
acquisition, as they serve to elicit comprehensible input from ones conversational
partner,
Neu (1991), who has examined the roles of input, interaction, and attitudes and
motivation on second language acquisition, has maintained that input and interaction
are covert catalysts for positive motivation and attitudes. Expressed in the following
passage is a view that has been shared by many of the researchers cited above:
Adequate and appropriate input and interaction ... are necessary components
for maintaining a positive attitude and high motivation. . Sustaining a
positive attitude and increasing or maintaining motivation leads to SLA
[second language acquisition], which in turn encourages learners to pursue
adequate and appropriate input and interaction. (Neu, pp. 427-428)


44
assessed in a study by Moran in 1969. Half of the students were exposed to middle
school practices while the other half were instructed via traditional junior high
methodology (similar to the departmentalization and subject-oriented curriculum of the
high school). All students were administered a battery of achievement tests. It was
concluded that students exposed to middle school methodology demonstrate greater
improvement in the academic disciplines.
Morans findings were disclaimed the subsequent year by Mooney (1970), who
utilized the same students as did Trauschke (1970) in a concurrent study. Mooney
compared the achievement of students in middle school (defined as grades five through
eight) with that of fifth and sixth graders in elementary school and seventh and eighth
graders in junior high school (which consisted of grades seven through nine). He
sought to determine whether school organization was correlated with scholastic
performance. Scores on the Stanford Achievement Test indicated that middle
schoolers scholastic achievement was comparable to that of the other two groups.
Gaskill (1971), who assessed the academic achievement of students in four middle
schools and two traditional junior high schools, also found no significant differences in
favor of the middle school structure.
The findings of Mooney (1970) and Gaskill (1971) were refuted by Smith (1975),
who did find differences in academic achievement between students in a middle school
setting and those in a traditional junior high school setting. Smith evaluated the
academic achievement of students in two junior high schools in Canton, Ohio. One
school had been restructured in order to incorporate the middle school concept with its


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Karen Wolz Verkler was born in New York on August 27, 1956, but was raised
on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She graduated from All Saints Cathedral School in St.
Thomas in 1974. She then attended Stetson University, from which she graduated
magna cum laude with a double major in Spanish and psychology in 1978. At Stetson
she was awarded membership in Psi Chi, National Honor Society in Psychology, and
received the Scroll and Key Award for outstanding senior in Spanish.
While teaching Spanish, she received a Master of Education in counselor
education from the University of Central Florida in 1988. In 1989, she was elected
Teacher of the Year, was nominated for the National PTA Phoebe Apperson Hearst
Outstanding Educator Award, and received the Florida Congress of Parents and
Teachers Certificate of Honorary Life Membership. She has been nationally
recognized by the United States Department of Education, Office of Bilingual
Education and Minority Languages Affairs.
Ms. Verkler earned her Ph.D. in instruction and curriculum from the University
of Florida in 1993. As a doctoral student, she trained and supervised PROTEACH
students. She authored a comprehensive observation instrument, based upon current
educational theory and methodology, to assess the performance of student teachers
during their field experience. She is married to Jim Verkler and has one child, Erin.
174


66
Van Patten (1987) and White (1987) took exception to Krashens lack of provision
for incomprehensible input in his theory. White, in particular, argued that entirely
comprehensible input does not provide enough examples of structural patterns to allow
a student to formulate a complete schema of the new language. She contended that
Krashens input hypothesis:
runs into a number of difficulties, largely because of its lack of precision:
where comprehensible input is interpreted as simplified input, one is in danger
of providing less than adequate input to the acquirer. With its emphasis on
meaning and extra-linguistic factors as crucial, the hypothesis neglects the
role of system-internal changes [internally-driven aspects of grammar
development], fails to consider cases where the input does not help at all, and
underestimates the problem of the acquisition of form. (p. 108)
Although Swain (1985) has not contested the importance of comprehensible input
in language acquisition, she has stressed the additional need to provide the students
opportunities to produce comprehensible output. Output affords the students
meaningful utilization of their linguistic skills. Swain has indicated a further benefit
of comprehensible output: As learners strive to produce messages in which their own
communicative intentions are encoded, their ability to formulate a mental
configuration of the language is enhanced.
The role of interaction in the provision of comprehensible input
Long (1985) maintained that the provision of a silent period during the initial
stages of second language instruction is unwarranted, as it does not approximate actual
first language acquisition. He contended that first language acquisition develops by
means of communicative exchanges between the language speaker (usually the parent)
and the infant. The interchanges, which commence at birth, need not be verbal, but


56
Krashen has espoused the view that a language is acquired by the reception and
processing of a message composed of structures that are a little beyond ones current
level of understanding. This schema is denoted by i + 1. the i representing the
students current level of competence and the 1 symbolizing a level just a little beyond
that stage. Acquisition is thus facilitated by the progressive introduction of novel
information, always cushioned within previously-acquired language and/or
paralinguistic stimuli. In this manner, the student does not experience boredom by the
repeated presentation of previously-acquired information. In addition, the student will
not become intimidated by the introduction of isolated terminology that is far beyond
his/her current level of understanding.
In the same vein, it is not required that the input be finely tuned to the acquirers
current level of linguistic competence. In attempting to communicate with the
language acquirer, the target language speaker "casts a net of structure" (Krashen &
Terrell, 1983) around the acquirers i; that is, the message may contain input that falls
below, at, or above the acquirers proficiency level. It has been found (Krashen,
1980) that in natural linguistic situations, the breadth of the net cast is inherently
appropriate for each unique communicative context. A net of limited size might
consist solely of familiar expressions, thus prohibiting progress to a higher level of
language development. "A wider net might contain too much noise, too much
language that is not understood by the child, for optimum acquisition" (Krashen,
1980, p. 11). A roughly-tuned net assures the consistent provision of i + 1.


46
Support for the middle school structure was also indicated by Scott (1988), who
conducted a 6-year longitudinal study of a middle school to determine the effect of
middle school configuration on student achievement. The school had operated under a
junior high school format for three years, after which conversion to the middle school
structure had been implemented. An analysis of scores from the Comprehensive Test
of Basic Skills substantiated the hypothesis that student academic achievement would
be significantly higher in a middle school setting.
However, Scotts findings were unsubstantiated by Doran (1989), who also
studied a former junior high school that had undergone middle school conversion.
Two attitudinal questionnaires were completed by the student population. Academic
achievement was determined via analysis of standardized achievement and aptitude test
scores. A significant increase in academic performance was not found. However, an
analysis of the questionnaire responses did indicate a significant improvement in the
students perceptions of the school climate subsequent to the implementation of middle
school practices.
Later Research Studies: Outlier Studies
The comparative studies of early middle school research have given way to outlier
studies, which constitute a large segment of later research. These studies have
focused on pinpointing the most successful middle schools and then determining the
factors contributing to their success.
A study by Rutter and his associates was one such outlier study. In 1979, Rutter
et al. conducted a 4-year investigation of 12 junior high schools in inner-city London.


149
and second language educators have questioned whether middle school and high school
language achievement in Spanish 1 is equivalent.
Middle school foreign language programs have been considerably influenced by
second language acquisition theory, which also stresses the essential role of a positive
learning environment in the acquisition of instructional material. Therefore, foreign
language programs at the middle school level are shaped by similar tenets posited by
middle school and second language acquisition philosophies.
High school foreign language programs, in turn, tend to be influenced by their
distinct instructional setting. High school curriculum and pedagogy tend to focus on
deliverance of the disciplines rather than on the development of positive student affect.
Students at this level are thus within an environment very different to the middle
school climate.
In an effort to determine whether middle school and high school Spanish I
students achieve comparably or whether the differences in their school environments
effect differential language achievement, this investigation was designed. It examined
the influence of school affiliation on achievement in the four language areas and on
attitude toward the foreign language learning experience.
The results of this study indicated that school affiliation was related to
achievement and attitude toward the foreign language learning experience. Middle
school students evidenced significantly greater achievement in all four language areas
than that of high school students. In addition, they exhibited attitudes more favorable
than those of high school students. The investigation also indicated that pretest scores


114
the criteria stipulated by this study. The only Spanish I examination deemed plausible
was one developed by the School Board of Collier County in Florida.
In 1985-86, development of the district-wide Collier County Spanish I Final Exam
commenced. According to B. Schmelz, Coordinator of Language Arts of the School
Board of Collier County, the impetus behind its development was the need to
determine proper placement in high school Spanish classes of incoming ninth graders
who had completed Spanish I in middle school (personal communication, February 6,
1992).
This need arose shortly after the School Board of Collier County implemented a
county-wide Spanish I program at the middle school level in 1984. The curriculum
duplicated that of the high school Spanish I course, Course No. 0708340. Motivated
by articulation concerns as well as the decision to award students high school credit
for successful completion of the eighth grade course, Schmelz initiated the
development of a district-wide Spanish I final exam in 1985.
A test development committee composed of Schmelz, one public middle school
Spanish teacher, and one Spanish teacher from each public high school in Collier
County was established. Inservices were conducted for item selection, development of
test specifications, and content validation. The committee examined the Florida
Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks for Spanish I, Course No.
0708340, to determine an item domain, or performance domain. In defining a
performance domain, the committee began "with a set of instructional objectives and
then [proceeded] to define a domain of performance to which inferences from test
scores [would] be made" (Crocker & Algina, 1986, p. 69).


158
Carroll, J. B. (1974). Learning theory for the classroom teacher. In G.A. Jarvis
(Ed.). The challenge of communication (pp. 113-149). Skokie, IL: National
Textbook Company.
Carroll, J., Tanenhaus, M.K., & Bever, T.G. (1978). The perception of relations:
The interaction of structural, functional, and contextual factors in the segmentation
of sentences. In W.J.M. Levelt & G.B. Flores dArcis (Eds.), Studies in the
perception of language (pp. 187-2181. New York: Wiley.
Cawelti, G. (1988, November). Middle schools: A better match with early
adolescent needs, ASCD survey finds. ASCD Curriculum Update. 1-12.
Childrens Defense Fund. (1988). Making the middle grades work. Washington,
DC: Childrens Defense Fund.
Chomsky, N. (1975). Reflections on language. New York: Pantheon.
Cohen, E. (1986). Designing groupwork: Strategies for the heterogeneous
classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
Coleman, J.S., Campbell, E.Q., Hobson, C.J., McPartland, J., Mood, A.M.,
Weinfeld, F.D., & York, R.L. (1966). Equality of educational opportunity.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Compton, M. (1984). Balance in the middle school curriculum. In J.H. Lounsbury
(Ed.), Perspectives in middle school education, 1964-1984 (pp. 68-77).
Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.
Crtese, G. (1987). Interaction in the FL classroom: From reactive to proactive
experience of language. System. 27-41.
Crocker, L., & Algina, J. (1986). Introduction to classical & modem test theory.
Fort Worth, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
Cronbach, L.J., Gleser, G.C., Nanda, H., & Rajaratnam, N. (1972). The
dependability of behavioral measurements: Theory of generalizability of scores
and profiles. New York: John Wiley.
Cross, T. (1977). Mothers speech adjustments: The contribution of selected child
listener variables. In C. Snow and C. Ferguson (Eds.), Talking to children
(pp. 151-189). London: Cambridge University Press.


88
The general principle would be that a meaning that is richly endowed
with concrete situational content is more likely to be learned and
attached to the corresponding pattern than one that is abstract or
endowed with little situational content, (p. 136)
The Total Physical Response
Physical responses and active student participation in the Natural Approach
frequently assume the form of the Total Physical Response (TPR), which requires the
students physical involvement in the execution of commands uttered in the target
language. Asher (1966, 1969, 1977), who developed TPR, advocated that second
language acquisition be founded upon a model of first language acquisition processes.
Moreover, he stressed the importance of the right hemisphere of the brain in language
development. He professed that infants receive some of their first stimuli in the form
of parental commands. However, because the right hemisphere of the brain is
incapable of speech production, infants indicate their comprehension of the input by
kinetic reaction to the stimuli. He emphasized that left brain activities (inclusive of
speech) can commence only when the right hemisphere has been sufficiently activated
via physical movement.
Asher has supported the trace theory of memory, which holds that memory
associations are formed between input and their meanings. The more deeply that
memory associations are traced into the learners memory banks via repetitive
meaningful activities, the more acutely they are acquiredhence, retention is
facilitated.
Asher has also postulated some hypotheses that concur with those of Krashen. His
bio-program hypothesis proposes that listening comprehension skills develop prior to


120
Following training in assessing the compositions, the teachers were provided with
evaluation forms and copies of 20 samples of biographical sketches and picture
descriptions (the two components of the writing section of the exam) that had been
written by Collier County Spanish I students. Each evaluator received the same set of
compositions and was requested to individually evaluate each composition, utilizing
the holistic rubric and model composition samples. The teachers were to rate them
sans discussion with each other.
The researcher was unable to attain from Schmelz samples of students oral
productions for the oral section of the exam. Hence, samples needed to be secured
for the purposes of determining interscorer reliability indices. The experimenter made
arrangements with a colleague to administer the oral component of the Spanish I Exam
to her Spanish I students at the end of the 1991-92 school year. The students were
audiotaped during their oral productions; 22 oral samples were thus acquired.
The process of establishing reliability coefficients for the holistic scoring of the
oral component was equivalent to that for the determination of coefficients for the
scoring of the writing section. The scorers listened to the taped oral production of
each of the 22 students. After hearing each production, they utilized the holistic
rubric to assess on an evaluation sheet the performance of each student.
Interscorer correlations for the holistic scoring of the writing and oral components
of the Spanish I Exam were obtained by means of generalizability theory. According
to Crocker and Algina (1986), "generalizability theory is concerned with a set of
techniques for studying the degree to which a particular set of measurements of an


60
group viewed pictures relevant to the passages theme and were requested to speculate
about its content prior to reading it and taking the test. The performance of the third
group was found to be significantly superior to that of the other two groups,
substantiating previous findings that reading comprehension is greatly heightened via
the provision of pictorial contextual support.
The enhancement of listening comprehension by the accompaniment of contextual
stimuli has also been supported by a number of studies conducted by Bransford and
Johnson (1972). In this series of studies, the students were presented orally with an
ambiguously-written prose passage, after which they were to indicate their degree of
comprehension of the passage (by rating the difficulty of the passage on a 7-point
Likert-style scale) and their recollection of factual information within the passage.
The students were randomly assigned to one of five groups. The No-Context
Group received no visual stimuli while listening to the passage. The Context-Before
Group viewed an appropriate visual prior to hearing the passage. A thematically-
correct picture was presented to the Context-After Group following the passage.
Before hearing the passage, the Partial-Context Group was shown a picture in which
the objects had been reorganized. The No-Context (2) Group received no pictorial
support, but listened to the passage twice.
The group that viewed the pictorial support prior to hearing the passage was found
to significantly outscore the other groups. Students in this group produced
comprehension and recall scores that were significantly higher than those produced by
students in the other four groups; their scores were more than double those of any of


135
Hypothesis 3: There is no significant relationship between school affiliation and
posttest reading comprehension.
The regression analysis of the relationship between school affiliation and posttest
reading comprehension produced a significantt statistic of t(162) = -5.96, p< .01, as
Table 4-5 indicates. The null hypothesis was thus rejected. The parameter estimate
of -12.39 indicated that on the average, high school students scored approximately 12
points lower than middle school students in posttest reading comprehension,
controlling for the effects of the other independent variables.
Table 4-5
Linear Regression to Test the Relationship Between Predictor Variables and Posttest
Reading Comprehension
Source
df
Parameter Estimate
Standard Error
1
School
1
-12.39
2.08
-5.96*
Reading
1
0.39
0.08
4.66*
Comp Pretest
GPA
1
8.34
1.58
5.28*
SES
1
8.15
4.22
1.93
Note. The overall test of significance was F
= 38.98 with df =
4,159.
*p< .01.
Analysis of the relationship between pretest and posttest reading comprehension
yielded a significant t statistic of t(162) = 4.66, p< .01. GPA and posttest reading
comprehension were also found to be significantly related (li62,.oi = 5.28). No


22
however, the bulk of the findings tend to favor the middle school structure and
pedagogy over the traditional structure and practices of the junior high setting.
In outlier studies, middle schools exhibiting positive student attitudes and high
academic achievement were scrutinized in order to ascertain the factors that
contributed to their success. It was found that these schools were characterized by
advisory groups, interdisciplinary teaming, and thematic and integrative pedagogy,
attributes that form the core of middle school philosophy.
Implementation of middle school philosophy has dictated that curricular changes
be made to address the needs of the pubescent student. Middle school foreign
language programs have been increasingly affected by these curricular changes.
Although a great variety of foreign language programs currently exist at the middle
school level, an increasing number of schools have been attempting to implement a
Spanish I course. Like the high school Spanish I course, this course adheres to the
Florida Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks for Spanish I, Course No.
0708340.
Second language acquisition theory has currently been having a considerable effect
on pedagogical practices in elementary and middle school foreign language programs.
Second language acquisition theorist Krashen (1982) has asserted that ones language
acquisition is largely influenced by two factors-the degree of comprehensible input to
which the student is exposed and the degree of comfort/discomfort experienced during
this exposure. The latter variable has been addressed in Krashens affective filter
hypothesis, in which it has been proposed that language acquisition is greatly
influenced by "the strength of the affective filter, or the degree to which the acquirer


104
meetings, the teachers were sent a detailed description of the study to review before
the meeting and were asked to make note of any issues to be addressed.
At the middle schools, the meetings consisted of the Spanish instructor and the
researcher. At four of the six middle schools, the principal was also in attendance
during the meeting. Following each conference, the researcher was usually introduced
to the guidance department personnel. At the conclusion of each visit, reconfirmation
of the school staffs willingness to participate and cooperate was secured.
Since high school foreign language teachers typically do not receive their teaching
assignments until they return to their employment in the fall, it was requested that all
Spanish teachers attend the high school meetings with the researcher. In this manner,
all instructors were familiarized with the nature of the study and were given the
opportunity for clarification of any issues in the event that one of their classes would
be participating in the study during the 1992-93 school year. The foreign language
department heads, who functioned as liaisons between the researcher and participating
teachers in facilitating the transfer of communications and materials, also attended the
meetings.
One Spanish I class at each school was selected to participate in the study. The
selection of the participating high school Spanish I class was made by the foreign
language department head, who chose a class taught by a teacher who had expressed a
willingness to assist in the study. The selection of a Spanish I class at the middle
school level was less complex in that there was generally only one Spanish teacher at


D PEARSON CORRELATION COEFFICIENTS OF PREDICTOR AND
CRITERION VARIABLES FOR REGRESSION ANALYSES 154
REFERENCES 155
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 174
viii


64
Crosss finding that caretaker speech is roughly-tuned to the learners level of
understanding, but that it is comprehensible, is congruent with the second corollary of
Krashens input hypothesis. This corollary states that the childs next grammatical
rule need not be included in every verbalization or every linguistic exchange. Given a
sufficient degree of comprehensible input, the learner will automatically receive
exposure to the necessary grammatical structures (Krashen, 1982).
The comprehensible input controversy
Few, if any, studies dispute the instrumental role played by comprehensible input
in second language acquisition. What continues to be a topic of controversy,
however, is Krashens assertion that "comprehensible input is the true and only
causative variable in second language acquisition" (Krashen, 1985b, p. 60). Krashen
has maintained that, in the initial stage of acquisition, provision must be made for a
period of silence during which no speech production is required of the acquirer. The
silent period, he has posited, approximates the linguistic environment to which the
child was exposed during first language acquisition. During this stage, the child is
developing linguistic proficiency via the absorption of comprehensible input. The
child is provided with comprehensible input in the form of caretaker speech, visuals,
gestures, and a myriad of other extralinguistic stimuli. Actual speech production in
the second language may not surface for a number of months. "Speaking ability
emerges on its own after enough competence has been developed by listening and
understanding" (Krashen, 1982, p. 27).


4
ascertained that the middle school structure promotes the development of a more
positive student attitude. Race relations, which contribute to the school climate, have
also been found to benefit from the middle school structure and pedagogy (Damico,
Green, & Bell-Nathaniel, 1982). To the contrary, Wood (1973), Sienkiewicz (1973),
and Nash (1974) found no relationship between school organizational pattern and
student attitude.
The findings of early studies examining the relationship between middle school
practices and student academic achievement are also mixed. Mooney (1970) and
Gaskill (1971) found no significant differences favoring the middle school structure.
Their claims were unsubstantiated by several studies (Moran, 1969; Sinclair &
Zigarmi, 1977-79; Smith, 1975) that indicated that students exposed to middle school
practices demonstrate greater academic improvement than students in schools
espousing a different philosophy.
Much of the later research concerning middle school effectiveness has been
characterized by outlier studies. Outlier studies are studies that locate and scrutinize
those examples that are superior in caliber in order to determine the contributors to
their success. The results of these studies (Dorman, 1983; Levine, Levine, &
Eubanks, 1984; Lipsitz, 1984; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979;
Wayson, DeVoss, Kaeser, Lashley, & Pinnell, 1982) support the practices advocated
by middle school proponents. That is, the characteristics of the exemplary schools
that have been pinpointed as factors contributing to school success are those which
form the core of the middle school concept (George, 1983).


UNIVERSITY OF FLOaDA
3 1262 06554 6900


This is dedicated to the one(s) 1 love.


108
According to teacher comments, a number of the schools specified that eighth graders
wishing to enroll in Spanish I must have attained a grade of "A" or at least a "C"
(counties differ in their requirements) in reading the previous year. A few guidance
counselors involved in the enrollment of Spanish I students expressed a preference for
advanced students as measured by their language arts scores on standardized tests.
Yet other schools stipulated no such prerequisites.
The final inquiry in the middle school section of the survey addressed the presence
of a homeroom period, advisor-advisee program, or comparable program within the
middle school curriculum. Responses were unanimously in the affirmative.
Subject Selection
Approval to collect data was secured from the University of Florida Institutional
Review Board. Letters requesting student and parental permission were written
according to the guidelines specified by the Board. At the beginning of the 1992-93
school year, the letters were distributed by each Spanish I instructor to students who
were enrolled in the class that had been selected to participate in the study. Students
whose returned letters granted permission for inclusion were those whose scores were
utilized in the data analysis.
Subject Description
High School
Fifty-seven of the 164 subjects in the study were ninth graders enrolled in the
participating high school Spanish I classes. Although high school Spanish I classes


31
communicative use of a second language, and the best ratio of teacher talk to student
talk (Bejarano, 1987; Cohen, 1986; Cummins, 1981; Kagan, 1985; McGroarty, 1989;
Nerenz & Knop, 1982; Swain, 1985).
Parker (1985) and Tyrrell (1990) have also found that when students participate in
cooperative learning, their acquisition of course material improves, their problem
solving skills are augmented, their socialization skills are enhanced, and they exhibit a
more favorable attitude toward school. Cooperative learning has gained additional
support from Nederhood (1986), who assessed the effects of teachers use of
cooperative learning on the achievement and attitudinal outcomes of seventh graders.
Measures of achievement and attitude indicated a significant, positive correlation
between an instructors use of cooperative learning techniques and student classroom
participation, scholastic expectations, number of friends, and self-esteem.
Groupwork provides for an increased amount of active learning on the part of the
students, better management of academic heterogeneity, preparation for students to
cooperate and learn the internalization of norms, and an improvement in interracial
relationships (Kagan, 1985; Slavin, 1990). Students also learn to assume new roles
within the group-secretary, monitor, time keeper, and the like. Because of the non-
traditional nature of this type of instruction, a modification in expectations for student
competence is in order. Competence is viewed instead as improvement in
performance over time. Moreover, the traditional authoritarian role of the teacher is
to be relinquished in favor of the role of facilitator of learning.


30
college courses or workshops that are designed to increase teacher competencies in
working with young adolescents. As of 1988, 22 states had special certification or
endorsements for instructors teaching at the middle school level (Childrens Defense
Fund).
Varied Pedagogical Techniques
Since this age group is functioning at a variety of intellectual capacities, the
middle school teacher must employ numerous teaching strategies in order to provide
opportunities for success for the majority of the students. The curriculum requires
personalized, hands-on, experiential and interactive exercises, formal instruction,
thematic instruction, and countless other modes of instruction (Becker, 1990; Brazee,
1987; Johnson, 1989; Kohut, 1976). In addition, the middle school curriculum is
based upon the developmental capabilities of each child. Individualized, self-paced
activities allow for individual student mastery without the traditional competition with
peers. Unipacs, "individualized learning packages for student self-directed study
requiring the use of a multi-media resource center or laboratory (Kohut, 1976,
p. 8) can be of much value in individualized, self-paced instruction.
Cooperative learning, the arrangement of classrooms to allow students to work
with each other in small, interdependent groups (Kagan, 1985), has also been
increasing in popularity as a instructional technique in middle schools. Jones (1990)
has asserted that cooperative learning is a developmental^ appropriate and effective
pedagogical practice for middle grade students. Research has found pairwork to offer
the best balance of on-task behavior, highest percent of student time spent in


75
Motivation and attitudinal factors
Attitudinal factors are pertinent to second language acquisition in that they
influence ones affective filter (Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1981). "The right
attitudinal factors produce two effects: they encourage useful input for language
acquisition and they allow the acquirer to be open to this input so it can be utilized
for acquisition" (Krashen, 1981, p. 5).
Moreover, a learners "motivation to learn is thought to be determined by his
attitudes and by his orientation toward learning a second language" (Lambert, 1961,
cited in Hancock, 1972). Gardner and Lambert (1972) made a distinction between
integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. They maintained that integrative
motivation is indicative of "a willingness or a desire to be like representative members
of the other language community, and to become associated, at least vicariously, with
that other community" (p. 14). An integratively-motivated individual seeks to acquire
or learn a language primarily out of interest and pure enjoyment. Stevick (1976)
contended that one who is integratively motivated will feel non-threatened by speakers
of the target language and hence will be more susceptible to receptive learning (i.e.,
acquisition).
Instrumental motivation reflects ones aspiration to attain linguistic competency for
purely utilitarian purposes, as in the enhancement of ones employability skills
(Gardner & Lambert, 1972). It has been found that students demonstrating integrative
motivation are characterized by a lower affective filter than that of instrumentally-
motivated students. Integratively-motivated students have been found to exhibit


Ill
write their names on the questionnaire. In an effort to enhance integrity of student
response, a student, rather than the instructor, distributed and collected the
questionnaires. The student then sealed the surveys in a manila envelope addressed to
the researcher and delivered it to the main office for mailing.
The administrations of the Spanish I Exam at the beginning and end of the
1992-93 school year and the Foreign Language Attitude Questionnaire at the end of
the school year were the only infringements upon class time. The teachers were
directed to instruct their classes as usual for the duration of the school year.
The Spanish I Exam was administered as a pretest in order to "examine the
possibility of prior existing differences [in language achievement between the students]
and to statistically adjust for these differences" (Shavelson, 1988, p. 26). As the
nature of the present study precluded random sampling and assignment of subjects to
groups, the pretest was given to incorporate into the data analysis any pre-existing
language achievement differences.
Information was obtained on two other variables believed to influence language
achievement: student socioeconomic status (SES) and grade point average (GPA). As
it has been found to be associated with general academic achievement (Becker, 1990;
Coleman, 1966; Schrag, 1970), SES was included as a variable. Coleman (1966)
maintained:
Schools bring little influence to bear on a childs achievement that is
independent of his background and general social context; and that this
very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed
on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried
along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at
the end of school. For equality of educational opportunity through the


11
Lambert assessed the language achievement of English-speaking Montreal high school
students studying French. The findings indicated a relationship between language
achievement and learner interest in studying French and learner attitude toward
French-Canadians. Lambert (1961, cited in Hancock, 1972), affirmed that:
the learners ethnocentric tendencies and his attitudes toward the other
group are believed to determine his success in learning a new language.
His motivation to learn is thought to be determined by his attitudes and
by his orientation toward learning a second language, (p. 144)
Other researchers have echoed the sentiments of Lambert (Gardner, 1978;
Mueller, 1971). Mueller, who assessed student attitudes in a basic French course at
the University of Kentucky, concluded that language achievement is influenced by
attitude toward the target language, toward the manner of course instruction, and
toward the people whose language is being taught. Gardner studied students in upper
elementary grades and high school in the interest of determining what factors
contributed to language achievement. His study yielded positive correlations between
aptitudes, attitudes, and achievement in French.
As a relationship between student attitude and language achievement is indicated
by the findings of the above studies, an attitude instrument, the Foreign Language
Attitude Questionnaire, was administered at the end of the Spanish 1 course to assess
the attitudes of both groups of students. Since it consisted of questions about
experiences in the Spanish class and practices of the Spanish instructor, this instrument
was not administered at the beginning of the course. The questionnaire items would
have been unanswerable at the beginning of the school year.


6
"i" being the students current degree of comprehension and the "1" indicating a level
just a little beyond that stage. The rationale behind the provision of material that is
just beyond the learners level of comprehension is the need to introduce new stimuli
within a familiar setting. In this fashion, the student does not become bored with the
continuous presentation of previously acquired information. Conversely, the student
will not become intimidated by the sole introduction of vocabulary and expressions
that are far beyond his/her current level of comprehension.
In order for input to be comprehensible, the student must be able to glean
meaning from the context in which it is presented. Input can be rendered more
comprehensible by the accompaniment of visual aids, realia, gestures, mime, and any
other paraverbal, contextual material. Cummins (1981) asserted that language
proficiency can be viewed in terms of the degree of contextual support available for
expressing or comprehending through a language. Context-embedded language, or
contextualized language, is supported by many clues. This type of language involves
the ability to utilize the skills associated with face-to-face interaction; such verbal
exchanges tend to be accompanied by stimuli that provide extralinguistic support to
facilitate an effective response. For beginners in a language program, the presentation
of context-embedded material is recommended in order to facilitate comprehension.
Context-reduced language, or decontextualized language, involves the ability "to
provide a coherent, comprehensible, informationally adequate account without signals
from an interlocutor (Snow, 1987, p. 4). With increased proficiency in a second
language comes an increase in ones ability to function adequately in a
decontextualized fashion.


103
the high schools into which the middle schools fed. The letters were followed up with
a phone call to the principals for introductory and clarification purposes. Once
consent was attained to proceed with the study at a specific school, the Spanish
teachers at that school were contacted by mail. The letters were equivalent to those
issued to the superintendents and principals. Following receipt of the letters, the
teachers were contacted by phone for the purposes of introduction, clarification, and
acquisition of permission to obtain and utilize data from their Spanish I students.
Correspondence and phone calls yielded the participation of six middle schools
and five high schools within four Florida school districts. As one of the high schools
was fed by two different middle schools (hence, the unequal number of high schools
and middle schools), five middle school-high school matches were secured. A match
was defined as a middle school and the high school that the students would attend
upon completion of that middle school, as determined by district school attendance
zones. Matches were sought by the researcher. As matches generally draw from the
same student population, the students within each middle school-high school match
would tend to be as equivalent as possible in terms of ethnic, racial, and
socioeconomic status composition.
Arrangements were made by the researcher to meet with the Spanish teachers at
each of the participating schools during the spring of 1992. The purpose of these
meetings was to attempt to establish rapport with the teachers, to clarify any issues, to
further explicate the study, to reconfirm teacher willingness to participate in the study,
and to schedule tentative testing dates for the fall of 1992. A week prior to the


15
determine where their interests lie. The primary purpose of exploratory courses is to
pique student interest to encourage future in-depth study. Middle school proponents
have stressed that such courses "must allow for exploration without excessive fear of
failure" (George & Lawrence, 1982, p. 153). Because the middle school Spanish I
course has been considered to be exploratory and "non-academic" in nature, high
school foreign language teachers have frequently questioned whether middle school
Spanish I students are able to achieve at a level comparable to that of high school
students who are in a more formalized, structured environment.
Middle school foreign language teachers, also cognizant of the differences between
middle school and high school philosophies, have expressed the desire to assess their
students achievement in comparison to that of high school Spanish 1 students. They
have sought to develop successful articulation with the high school foreign language
program. All of the middle school teachers in this study stated that they follow the
same State of Florida curriculum frameworks as do the high school teachers.
However, the researcher determined through observation and discussion with teachers
and curriculum personnel that the pedagogy employed by middle school teachers tends
to differ from that utilized at the high school level. In general, middle school foreign
language teachers, in accordance with middle school philosophy as well as current
second language acquisition theory, appear to utilize a more personalized,
communicative, and affective approach (with much interaction, physical activity,
games, and integrated curriculum) than that employed by high school foreign language
teachers.


79
attitude, which was rated on a 5-point scale. General attitude was defined as ones
perception of the learning environment and ones general feelings about learning the
language in this particular instructional situation. The students were also administered
an extensive battery of tests: the International Educational Achievement Test of
French, the Imitation Task to measure productive competence, and cognitive-style and
personality tests. Observations of student classroom behavior and teacher interviews
provided supplemental information about the students. An analysis of the results
indicated that general attitude did indeed significantly correlate with a verbal French
test (i=.42, p< .01) and a listening comprehension test in French (r=.48, p< .01).
Richard-Amato (1987) investigated the influence of attitudes toward oneself,
toward the target language and target language community (particularly peers of the
students), toward the instructor, and toward the classroom environment on language
acquisition. She determined that all of the above variables were influential to some
degree in ones language acquisition. "The affective domain includes several variables
that can either enhance second language acquisition or hinder it, depending upon
whether they are positive or negative, the degree to which they are present, and the
combinations in which we find them" (p. 54).
Self-confideace
In addition to motivational variables, self-confidence has also been found to
influence language acquisition (Brown, H.D., 1977; Dulay et al., 1982; Heyde,
1977). Dulay et al. (1982) hypothesized that a self-confident individual would possess


APPENDIX A
FOREIGN LANGUAGE ATTITUDE QUESTIONNAIRE EXCERPTS
Students in this Spanish class, like all students, have different feelings about things.
This questionnaire is for you to express your feelings about your Spanish course, your
Spanish teacher, and your experiences in this class. This is NOT a test. There are no
"correct or "incorrect" answers.
Please indicate your response to each statement below by circling the number that
best indicates how you feel. Your responses will not be seen by your Spanish teacher and
will remain confidential.
Learning a foreign language is very interesting.
1 2 3 4 5 6 1
Usually
sometimes
rarely
When students make mistakes in my foreign language class, my teacher seems displeased.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Usually
sometimes
rarely
When I am in my foreign language class, I feel relaxed.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Usually
sometimes
rarely
Our foreign language teacher praises students.
i
2
2
4
5
6
2
Usually sometimes rarely
151


92
(1983) have highlighted the importance of a non-threatening, accepting environment in
second language acquisition:
An environment which is conducive to acquisition must be created by the
instructor low anxiety level, good rapport with the teacher, friendly
relationship with other students; otherwise acquisition will be impossible.
Such an atmosphere is not a luxury but a necessity, (p. 21)
In an effort to lower the affective filter, error correction is kept to a minimum,
unless communication is significantly impaired. Kxashen (1982) has explained that
correction tends to raise the affective filter which, in turn, obstructs the natural flow
of comprehensible input. It has been suggested that if linguistic modifications are
indicated, they should focus on the semantics of the message, rather than on its
grammatical structure.
Another practice of the Natural Approach is the provision of meaningful,
personalized, comprehensible input to stimulate and maintain student interest and to
enhance the development of linguistic competence. There has been widespread
agreement among educators and linguists (Gaarder, 1967; Jakobovits, 1970;
Jakobovits & Gordon, 1974; Moskowitz, 1981; Newmark & Reibel, 1968; Oiler,
1971; Oxford, Lavine, & Crookall, 1989; Savignon, 1983; Spolsky, 1968; Stern,
1973) that one condition must be present for the effective development of
communicative skills: "Language is best learned in living meaningful situational
contexts that fulfill communicative needs of the learner" (Schulz & Bartz, 1975, p.
55). Jakobovits and Gordon (1974), Newmark and Reibel (1968), and Oiler (1971)
have proposed that a syllabus based on communicative goals may yield greater
linguistic acquisition than one dictated by sequential grammatical structures.


127
All specifications were met in the study. The design consisted of five multiple
linear regression equations. Four of the equations were composed of the same
predictor variables. These variables were school affiliation, score on the Spanish I
Exam pretest, GPA, and SES. The multiple regression equations were differentiated
by their criterion variable. The criterion, or dependent variable, for each equation
was as follows: (a) for the first equation, listening comprehension score, (b) for the
second equation, writing score, (c) for the third equation, reading comprehension
score, and (d) for the fourth equation, oral score. Score on the Foreign Language
Attitude Questionnaire (FLAQ) was the criterion variable of the fifth equation. This
equation consisted of the following predictor variables: school affiliation, GPA, and
SES.
The continuous variables were scores on the individual components of the
Spanish I Exam pretest and posttest, GPA, and scores on the FLAQ. School
affiliation and SES, which were both categorical variables, were introduced into the
regression equations as dummy variables. Dummy variables are employed to indicate
the categorization (rather than magnitude) of a level of the independent variable(s)
(Agresti & Agresti, 1979). School was coded 0 for middle school and 1 for high
school. SES was coded 0 for high SES and 1 for low SES.
The sample size of this study satisfied the criteria specified above by Shavelson
(1988). According to his specifications, a study investigating the effects of four
independent variables calls for a sample of at least 40 subjects. The sample of the
present study, which consisted of 164 students, easily fulfilled that requirement.


21
The difference between the two groups of students with respect to choice of
enrollment in the Spanish I course could have influenced student language achievement
and/or attitude toward the foreign language experience. However, because self
selection was not included in the analysis, any differences between the two groups did
not reflect its influence in this study.
Summary
The reorganization of junior high schools into middle schools during the last
quarter of a century has constituted one of the most significant and all-encompassing
reformations in the history of American public education (George & Oldaker, 1985).
The middle school philosophy has developed out of the belief that the junior high
structure has been ineffective in attending to the unique cognitive, biological, and
psychosocial needs of its pubescent population.
In accordance with middle school philosophy, the middle school is characterized
by numerous programs and structures designed solely to foster a positive school
climate-one in which a sense of belonging and caring are in evidence. Improvements
in the school environment have been sought via the implementation of such strategies
as interdisciplinary teaming, advisory groups, integrative and thematic planning and
instruction, experiential activities, and exploration.
Since its inception, the middle school has been the subject of much controversy as
to its effectiveness in attending to the needs of the pubescent student. Early studies
comparing the attitudes and academic achievement of junior high students and middle
school students yielded mixed results. Later studies also produced conflicting results;


82
The effect of personality variables on language achievement was further examined
by Dunkel (1947). Students entering the University of Chicago in 1946-47 were
administered the Rorschach test and a full battery of entrance examinations, which
included the ACE Psychological Examination and a foreign language placement test.
A Latin test given at the end of the first year measured their language achievement.
Upon analysis of intercorrelations, Dunkel concluded that low achievers are
characterized by feelings of "emotionality, inner conflict, and anxiety."
Carroll (1963) investigated the relationship between test anxiety and language
proficiency attained in intensive foreign language classes primarily under governmental
auspices, such as those in the Air Force or at the Foreign Service Institute. The
results indicated a small negative correlation (£=-.20), signifying that as test anxiety
increases, there is a tendency for language competency to decrease. Gardner et al.
(1976), who examined the linguistic performances of students studying French in
grades seven through 11 in Montreal, found that classroom anxiety is associated with
both communicative skills and grades in French.
Naimon et al. (1978), whose study was previously discussed in greater detail,
assessed the language achievement of students enrolled in French in grades eight
through 12 in Toronto. They concluded that fear of rejection, anxiety, and similar
feelings of discomfort are associated with course failure. In addition, a composite
variable identified as "overall classroom personality" was found to correlate with
performance on an imitation test (r=0.36, p< .01) and with achievement on a test of
listening comprehension (r=0.38, p< .01). Overall classroom personality was


65
Krashens viewpoint has been shared by Straight (1985), who has maintained that
successful linguistic proficiency is effected by instruction initially focused at the
development of the receptive skills (e.g., listening and reading comprehension) to the
exclusion of training in speech production. He has asserted that "full productive
language ability develops ... as a virtually automatic by-product of the development
of fluent comprehension processes through exposure to high-quality input presented in
comprehensible contexts" (p. 38).
The superlative and almost exclusive role in second language acquisition attributed
by Krashen to comprehensible input has been the topic of much controversy (Long,
1981; Rivers, 1986, 1987; Van Patten, 1987; White, 1987). Van Patten contended
that what is problematic with the input hypothesis is the dubious value that Krashen
places on grammar instruction, forced speech production, and error correction, all of
which are strategies that have been employed for years by the great majority of
foreign language instructors.
Van Patten also disputed Krashens assertion that comprehensible input plays a
more substantial role in the process of acquisition than in the process of learning a
language. Dismissing Krashens learning-acquisition distinction, he supported the
theory of McLaughlin (1979) that language acquisition is essentially a transfer of
information from short-term memory to long-term memory storage. According to
McLaughlin, new input calls for the controlled processing of short-term memory; the
learners conscious awareness is required. Repeated presentation of the input will
render the cognitive processing of this input automatic, as the information will have
been transferred to long-term memory.


171
Stem, H.H. (1973). Psycholinguistics and second language teaching. In J.W. Oiler,
Jr., & J.C. Richards (Eds.), Focus on the learner: Pragmatic perspectives for the
language teacher (pp. 16-28). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Stem, H.H. (1983). Fundamental concepts of language teaching. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Stevick, E. (1976). Memory, meaning and method-Some psychological
perspectives on language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Stevick, E. (1980). Teaching languages: A way and ways. Rowley, MA: Newbury
House.
Stevick, E. (1981). The Levertov machine. In R. Scarcella & S. Krashen (Eds.),
Research in second language acquisition (pp. 28-35). Rowley, MA: Newbury
House.
Straight, H. S. (1985). Communicative proficiency through comprehension. In A.
Ramirez (Ed.), Teaching languages in college: Communicative proficiency and
cross-cultural issues (pp. 19-43). Albany: Center for Languages, Literacy &
Cultures Education, School of Education, State University of New York at
Albany.
Strong, M. (1983). Social styles and the SLA of Spanish-speaking kindergartners.
TESQL Quarterly. 12, 241-58.
Strong, M. (1984). Integrative motivation: Cause or result of successful SLA?
Language Learning, 34, 1-14.
Stronge, J. H., & Jones, C.W. (1991). Middle school climate: The principals role
in influencing effectiveness. Middle School Journal. 22 (5), 41-44.
Svanes, Bjorg. (1987). Motivation and cultural distance in second-language
acquisition. Language Learning. 32, 341-359.
Swaffer, J.K., & Woodruff, M.S. (1978). Language for comprehension: Focus on
reading, a report on the University of Texas German program. Modem
Language Journal, 62, 27-32.
Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible
input and comprehensible output in its development. In S. Gass & C. Madden
(Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235-253). Rowley, MA:
Newbury House.


80
a lower affective filter and hence, be more receptive to input. Consequently, language
acquisition would be enhanced. They elaborated:
Self confident people have the advantage of not fearing rejection as much as
those with high anxiety levels and are therefore more likely to put themselves
in learning situations and to do so repeatedly. They are thrown into less
personal turmoil when they make mistakes than those who are more self-
conscious. This probably enhances subconscious language learning because
they are more able to take in and process what they hear at any given moment.
To use our terms, the filter of the self-confident person is a larger screen.
(P- 75)
Congruent with this viewpoint is that expressed by H. Brown (1977):
Presumably, the person with high self-esteem is able to reach out beyond
himself more freely, to be less inhibited, and because of his ego strength,
to make the necessary mistakes involved in language learning with less
threat to his ego. (p. 352)
The relationship between selfesteem and the oral production of ESL (English as a
Second Language) students at the University of Michigan was examined by Heyde
(1977). Selfesteem measures were obtained by the administration of a version of the
Sherwood Self Concept Inventory and by students evaluations of their own worth on
a selfesteem scale. Oral production estimates were acquired by means of instructor
ratings and student self-ratings. The findings indicated a high positive correlation
between self-concept and acquisition of verbal communicative skills.
The relationship between selfesteem and language proficiency was also
investigated by Oiler et al. (1977), who studied ESL students whose native language
was Chinese. The students completed self-evaluations and a cloze test. A cloze test
assesses reading comprehension skills. Students are provided with a passage in which
every nth word is omitted. This type of test, which requires careful attention to


This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of
Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
December, 1993
Dean, College of Education
Dean, Graduate School


96
grammatical rules within a meaningful context, not through the memorization
or formal discussion of rules.
6. Linguistic proficiency develops through creativity-through the creation of
utterances in interactive, participatory exercises. "The ultimate goal for our
students is to be able to use the language they are learning for their own
purposes, to express their own meanings, that is, to create their own
formulation to express their intentions" (Rivers, 1992, p. 381).
7. Every learning modality must be targeted in order to facilitate learning. This
calls for the utilization of a multitude of instructional strategies and media to
provide a context in which the message is enveloped. In language learning,
the students employ contextual cues to glean meaning from the message that
has been transmitted. Context has been found to be a significant factor in the
comprehension and retention of input (Ausubel, 1968; Bransford & Johnson,
1972; Carroll, 1966; Cummins, 1981; Mueller, 1980; Omaggio, 1979, 1986).
8. Assessment should serve as an aid to learning, not as a punitive measure.
Testing should provide a measure of ones current level of competency, not
ones lack of accomplishment.
9. Language and culture are inextricably linked. As Savignon (1983) affirmed:
Learning to speak anothers language means taking ones place in
the human community. It means reaching out to others across
cultural and linguistic boundaries. Language is far more than a
system to be explained. It is our most important link to the world
around us. Language is culture in motion. It is people interacting
with people, (p. 187)
Hence, language instruction must by necessity include cultural awareness.


41
Wood (1973) and Nash (1974) also conducted studies in an effort to assess
whether differences existed between students attitudes toward school, peers, school
personnel, and instruction on the basis of school setting-middle school or junior high.
Contrary to Rankin (1969), Trauschke (1970), and Schoo (1973), however, they found
that school setting does not yield significant differences in student attitude.
Sienkiewicz (1973) sought to determine the relationship between implementation
of middle school practices and student scores on a standardized attitudinal scale. A
number of Michigan middle schools were identified as having developed positive
attitudes among their students. Sienkiewicz administered a student attitude
questionnaire and observed the schools to assess the degree of actual implementation
of middle school practices. He found no significant differences in student attitude
between students in schools that had implemented middle school practices and those
that had not.
An investigation by Armstrong (1975) produced results contrary to those of Wood
(1973), Sienkiewicz (1973), and Nash (1974). An assessment of students perceptions
of their academic environment by the administration of the Elementary School
Environment Survey indicated that students at schools that had implemented the
middle school concept expressed more positive views regarding their school setting.
In addition, they perceived their educational experience as being more humanistic,
resourceful, and autonomous. It was concluded that there exists a strong direct
relationship between the degree to which the "true" middle school practices are
implemented and a positive academic climate, as perceived by the student population.


70
a linguistically simpler version of the instructions, but was given no opportunity for
clarification. It was found that the comprehension of the group afforded the
opportunity for negotiation (clarification of instructions) was significantly superior to
that of the group lacking this opportunity.
Long (1983) examined the comprehension of students grouped to perform different
types of group tasks. Some of the tasks were two-way tasks which required
interactive participation by both members of the pair. Other tasks were characterized
as one-way tasks which demanded active involvement of only one member of the pair.
Long concluded that the students in the interactive groups generated a greater degree
of comprehensible input, which ultimately resulted in greater language acquisition.
The roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in the development
of communicative competence in English-speaking children learning French as a
second language were evaluated in a study conducted by Swain (1985). Several
different constituents of communicative competence, (grammatical, discourse, and
sociolinguistic competence), were subjected to rigorous assessment by means of
interviews, film recounts, multiple-choice tests, and composition of narratives, letters,
and notes. The childrens communicative competence was found to be facilitated
through discourse exchanges in which negotiations of meaning occurred. The
conversational exchanges, Swain posited, derive from comprehensible output:
Comprehensible output ... is a necessary mechanism of acquisition
independent of the role of comprehensible input. Its role is, at minimum,
to provide opportunities for contextualized, meaningful use, to test out
hypotheses about the target language, and to move the learner from a
purely semantic analysis of the language to a syntactic analysis of it.
(P- 252)


91
Similar results were obtained by Wolfe and Jones (1982), who assessed high
school Spanish I students performance on unit tests measuring all four language
skills. One group, the experimental group, received daily exposure to TPR strategies
for half of the class period for 12 weeks. The control group received no instruction
via TPR methods. The two groups were administered text-coordinated unit tests
provided by the textbook publisher. Wolfe and Jones ascertained that the performance
of the experimental group was significantly superior to that of the control group on all
three unit tests. In addition, course and teacher evaluations were more favorable for
the TPR-trained students.
Principles of the Total Physical Response and the Natural Approach
The principles of TPR are those also espoused by the Natural Approach:
(a) Listening comprehension precedes speech production, (b) comprehension develops
through active student response (Krashen, 1982) and the execution of imperatives
delivered by the instructor (Asher, 1977), and (c) speech production emerges
naturally. Verbalization will surface when a readiness to speak has developed.
In addition to the above principles, the Natural Approach underscores the requisite
that classroom activities promote a lowering of the students affective filter. Krashen
and Terrell (1983) have recommended that affective acquisition activities, exercises
"that attempt to involve students feelings, opinions, desires, reactions, ideas and
experiences (p. 100), be utilized in order to pique and maintain students interest. It
has been proposed that such exercises also enhance the development of a sense of
community and belonging (Savignon, 1983; Terrell, 1982). Krashen and Terrell


87
In conclusion, current second language acquisition theory maintains that the
inextricable influences of attitude, motivation, input, and interaction on language
acquisition must be considered in the design and implementation of second language
instruction.
Implementation of Second Language Acquisition Theory
in the Second Language Classroom
The Natural Approach
The manifestation of second language acquisition theory as proposed by Krashen
(1982) can be found in its purest form in the Natural Approach, an instructional
method initially posited by Terrell (1977). This approach has since been heavily
influenced by and articulated with second language theory as evidenced by the
collaboration of Krashen and Terrell on The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition
in the Classroom (1983). This publication "has had especially widespread appeal
because, among other things, it reflects both second and foreign language teaching
concerns emanating from the backgrounds of its authors" (Pica, 1991, p. 399).
The Natural Approach (Krashen & Terrell, 1983) seeks to "bind" messages with
semantic associations in order to facilitate comprehension and retention of a
communication. This goal is accomplished by accompanying the message with
physical responses, visual aids, active student participation, and other paralinguistic
activities in a meaningful context. Repeated pairing of the message and contextual
stimuli strengthens the association, or bond, between the two. The concept of
"binding" has been aptly illustrated by Carroll (1974) in the following passage:


121
examinee generalizes to a more extensive set of measurements of that examinee"
(p. 188). The issue of concern to the researcher was not a specific score attained by
an individual examinee during a single test administration, but "the accuracy of
generalizing from a persons observed score on a test or other measure ... to the
average score that person would have received under all the possible conditions that
the test user would be equally willing to accept" (Shavelson & Webb, 1991, p. 1).
Measurement of student performance, in reality, occurs within a specific set of
conditions. Generalizability theory, on the other hand, addresses a universe of
generalization, which is a theoretical population of measurements that would be
attained via assessment under all possible conditions (Crocker & Algina, 1986).
Cronbach, Gleser, Nanda, and Rajaratnam (1972) maintained that "the ideal datum on
which to base a [measurement] decision would be something like the persons mean
score over all acceptable observations" (p. 15). This mean score represents the
individuals universe score and is analogous to classical test theorys true score. The
researcher sought to generalize from the individuals score during one test
administration to his or her universe score. Generalizability theory provided the
researcher with coefficients indicative of the degree of accuracy with which this
generalization could be made.
The coefficient of generalizability was defined by Crocker and Algina (1986) as
"the ratio of universe score variance to expected observed score variance" (p. 159).
Computation of the coefficients for the holistic ratings of the oral and writing
components was effected by means of the following procedures: