The effects of a cultural-linguistic approach on attitudes and achievement in the basic Spanish course

Date

1982

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Abstract

This experimental study was designed to test the following hypothesis: Adding content in culture to the basic Spanish course improves attitudes toward language study and positively affects linguistic achievement. The problem was to discover whether adding content in culture to the basic Spanish course improved attitudes toward Spanish language study and positively affected achievement. The experiment was carried out during the Spring Semester of 1982 at an historically black urban university. The experimental design included a sample of sixty students, enrolled in four basic Spanish classes designated as control and experimental. Students in the experimental groups were taught the treatment materials (content in culture) in addition to the regular curriculum, while students in the control groups received instruction in the regular curriculum. To measure the treatment effects, the students were administered the Dufort Foreign Language Attitude Scale and the Spanish Department's Achievement Test Battery at the beginning and at the conclusion of the experimental period. The scores from the instruments were analyzed through an analysis of variance test to determine the significance of the treatment effects. The analysis showed a significant difference in attitude improvement within the experimental group. Further analysis revealed that males scored higher than females within both the experimental and control groups. Moreover, students who worked acquired more positive attitudes than those who did not work. However, the independent variable section (experimental as opposed to control) was the only significant source of variation. In regard to achievement, the analysis indicated a substantially- lower-preachievement mean score within the experimental sections which contrasted with an only siightly-lower post achievement mean score. The difference in mean score indicated a sizeable increase in achievement within the sections which received the content in culture (the increase within the control group was proportionately lower). However, when an analysis of variance test was performed to determine the significance of the variation, the difference was not significant at the .05 level. Although an expected significant interaction between adding content in culture and linguistic achievement did not result, the researcher does recommend the addition of cultural content to second language curriculum because of the resulting significant effects on attitude improvement, as well as, the sizeable increase in achievement.

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Keywords

Spanish language--Study and teaching, Languages, Modern--Study and teaching

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