||The Role of Phonological Syllabification in the Teaching and Learning of English Polysyllabic Words
||Department of English
||This study investigated the role of an instruction in the principle of phonological syllabification—the division of polysyllabic words into their constituent syllables—in facilitating Taiwanese EFL learners’ acquisition of English polysyllabic words.
Participants were 31 first-year Applied English majors in a two-year program at an institute of technology in northeastern Taiwan. They took two parallel versions (serving as the pretest, the posttest, and the retention test) of the Syllabification Skills Test consisting of four subtests. Over a period of three weeks, they received the Phonological Syllabification Instruction for five class periods. Data were analyzed using the nonparametric Spearman rank-order correlation coefficient and a one-way repeated measures ANOVA.
Statistically significant positive correlations were found between the participants’ mean scores on the Subtests B (syllable counting) and C (syllable division), C and D1 (dictated spelling, scores assigned to fully correct spellings of words), as well as C and D2 (scores awarded to correctly spelled syllables in words) in all three tests. However, no such correlation existed between the participants’ performance on the Subtest A (phoneme counting) and their performance on the Subtest B. The results of ANOVA showed that there was a significant difference in the participants’ mean scores on the dictated spelling subtest across all three tests, when their written spellings were rated according to the number of correctly spelled syllables in words. The overall results of the Participant Perception Survey Questionnaire revealed that the participants felt that the Phonological Syllabification Instruction, as a whole, was conducive to improving their ability to learn and memorize English polysyllabic words. Finally, an in-depth qualitative analysis indicated that the participants made spelling errors on almost all linguistic features identified in each of the three broad linguistic categories: phonology, orthography, and morphology. These results suggest that the Phonological Syllabification Instruction does have a role in the learning of English polysyllabic words in Taiwanese EFL learners.
The findings from this study have important implications for English Language Teaching in Taiwan. First, Taiwanese EFL learners need to master letter name knowledge, sound–spelling correspondences, and the distinction between sounds and letters. Second, teachers may teach learners to “divide and conquer” polysyllabic words syllable by syllable, using the multisensory approach proposed in this study. Above all, it is suggested that educators teach learners to integrate knowledge of the three linguistic categories that is required to master English polysyllabic words effectively.
||Table of Contents
Chinese Abstract… iii
Table of Contents… vi
List of Tables… ix
List of Appendices… xi
Chapter 1 Introduction… 1
1.1 Statement of the Problem… 1
1.2 Statement of the Purpose… 8
1.3 Significance of the Study… 10
1.4 Definitions of Terms… 13
1.5 Organization of the Dissertation… 15
Chapter 2 Review of the Literature… 18
2.1 The Significance of Vocabulary Acquisition and Retention… 18
2.2 The Importance of Spelling… 23
2.3 The Types of Knowledge Used in Spelling… 29
2.4 The Challenge of Acquiring English Polysyllabic Words… 30
2.5 The Need for Improving the Efficacy of Polysyllabic Word Acquisition… 32
2.6 The Study of English Syllabification… 34
2.7 The Compilation of a Preliminary Inventory of Suitable Target Words… 38
2.7.1 The Materials That Had Been Taken Into Account… 39
2.7.2 The Five Principles of Word Selection… 44
2.7.3 The Five Principles of Word Exclusion… 55
2.8 The Development of the Syllabification Skills Test… 63
2.8.1 The Phoneme Counting Subtest… 64
2.8.2 The Syllable Counting Subtest… 69
2.8.3 The Syllable Division Subtest… 70
2.8.4 The Dictated Spelling Subtest… 70
2.9 A Proposed Multisensory Approach to Enhancing the Accuracy of the Written Spellings of English Polysyllabic Words… 71
2.10 Research Questions… 74
Chapter 3 Method… 76
3.1 Participants… 76
3.2 Materials… 77
3.2.1 The Consent Form… 78
3.2.2 The Demographic Survey Questionnaire… 79
3.2.3 The Syllabification Skills Test… 79
3.2.4 The Phonological Syllabification Instruction… 91
3.2.5 The Participant Perception Survey Questionnaire… 93
3.3 Procedures… 94
3.3.1 The Pilot Test… 95
3.3.2 The Main Study… 99
3.4 Scoring Methods… 102
3.5 Data Analyses… 103
3.5.1 Data Screening …104
3.5.2 Statistical Procedures… 105
Chapter 4 Results and Discussion… 110
4.1 The Pilot Test… 111
4.1.1 Main Characteristics of the Participants… 111
4.1.2 Results of Data Screening… 111
4.1.3 Item Analysis and Test Reliability… 113
4.1.4 Participants’ Performance on the Syllabification Skills Test… 114
4.1.5 Correlations Between the Subtests of the Syllabification Skills Test… 116
4.1.6 Misspellings Produced by Participants… 117
4.2 The Main Study… 118
4.2.1 Main Characteristics of the Participants… 118
4.2.2 Results of Data Screening… 118
4.2.3 Item Analysis and Test Reliability… 124
4.2.4 Participants’ Performance on the Three Measures… 128
4.2.5 Correlations Between the Subtests in the Three Measures… 130
4.2.6 Comparisons Between Participants’ Performance on the Three Measures… 133
4.2.7 Participants’ Perceptions of the Phonological Syllabification Instruction… 138
4.2.8 Types and Causes of Spelling Errors Produced by Participants… 144
Chapter 5 Conclusions… 163
5.1 Summary of the Study… 163
5.2 Pedagogical Implications… 169
5.3 Limitations and Suggestions for Further Study… 172
List of Tables
Table 2.1 Numbers of Types of Polysyllabic Words in the Revised GSL… 44
Table 3.1 The Numbers of Individual Word Types in Subtests Across Forms A, B, and C of the Syllabification Skills Test… 81
Table 3.2 Word Length, Number of Syllables, and Word Frequency of the Items on the Phoneme Counting Subtest (A) … 85
Table 3.3 Word Length, Number of Syllables, and Word Frequency of the Items on the Syllable Counting Subtest (B) … 86
Table 3.4 Word Length, Number of Syllables, and Word Frequency of the Items on the Syllable Division Subtest (C) … 88
Table 3.5 Word Length, Number of Syllables, and Word Frequency of the Items on the Dictated Spelling Subtest (D) … 90
Table 4.1 Main Characteristics of Participants in the Pilot Test (N = 29) … 112
Table 4.2 Mean Performance Scores on Subtests of the Syllabification Skills Test (Form A, Pilot Test) … 115
Table 4.3 Correlations Between Subtests of the Syllabification Skills Test (Form A, Pilot Test) … 116
Table 4.4 Main Characteristics of Participants in the Main Study (N = 31) … 119
Table 4.5 A Partial List of Test Items With Missing Values on Subtest D in Three Forms of the Syllabification Skills Test… 121
Table 4.6 Outliers Identified in the Main Study… 122
Table 4.7 Normality Assessments for all Variables… 123
Table 4.8 Means of Item Difficulty (P) and Item Discrimination (D) Indices for Each Subtest… 125
Table 4.9 Reliability Analysis for Each Subtest in Three Measures… 128
Table 4.10 Mean Performance Scores on Three Forms of the Syllabification Skills Test… 129
Table 4.11 Correlations Between Subtests in Three Forms of the Syllabification Skills Test… 131
Table 4.12 Paired-Samples t Tests of Participants’ Performance Between Pretest and Posttest (N = 29) … 134
Table 4.13 Paired-Samples t Tests of Participants’ Performance Between Posttest and Retention Test (N = 29) … 135
Table 4.14 Comparison of Participants’ Performance on Subtests A, D1, D2, Test 1, and Test 2 Across the Three Measures (N = 29) … 137
Table 4.15 Comparison of Participants’ Performance on Subtests B and C Across the Three Measures (N = 29) … 138
Table 4.16 Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Participants’ Perceptions of the Phonological Syllabification Instruction (N = 30) … 140
Table 4.17 Syllable Types and Linguistic Features Contained in the Test Items on Subtest D in Three Measures… 149
List of Appendices
Appendix A A Preliminary Inventory of Suitable Test Words (Monosyllabic Words) … 200
Appendix B1 Consent Form… 203
Appendix B2 Consent Form (Chinese Version) … 204
Appendix C1 The Demographic Survey Questionnaire… 205
Appendix C2 The Demographic Survey Questionnaire (Chinese Version) … 206
Appendix D1 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form A (Pilot Test) … 207
Appendix D2 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form A (Pilot Test, Chinese Version, With Answer Key ) … 210
Appendix E1 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form B (Pretest) … 213
Appendix E2 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form B (Pretest, Chinese Version, With Answer Key) … 216
Appendix F1 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form C (Posttest) … 219
Appendix F2 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form C (Posttest, Chinese Version, With Answer Key) … 222
Appendix G1 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form D (Retention Test) … 225
Appendix G2 The Syllabification Skills Test, Form D (Retention Test, Chinese Version, With Answer Key) … 228
Appendix H The First Handout on the Phonological Syllabification Instruction… 231
Appendix I The Second Handout on the Phonological Syllabification Instruction… 234
Appendix J1 The Participant Perception Survey Questionnaire… 239
Appendix J2 The Participant Perception Survey Questionnaire (Chinese Version) … 243
Appendix K Misspellings Made by Participants in the Pilot Test… 246
Appendix L Misspellings Made by Participants in the Main Study… 248
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