The Effects of Explicit Training on the Production of the Word Order for Adverbs of Place and Time in English by Dutch Learners of English
Hoof, J.A.G. van
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This study aims to investigate whether Dutch pupils learning English as a second language (L2) will improve in their production of the word order for adverbs of place and time in written English after having been exposed to various kinds of explicit training. While formal education nowadays focusses more on implicit instruction (II) and a communicative approach, many studies have shown that explicit instruction (EI) is effective and beneficial for L2 learners. The goal of this research is to determine whether receiving various kinds of explicit training with regard to the word order for adverbs of place and time in written English has a positive effect on learning for Dutch learners of English, and if so, which kind of training is more effective. The experiment contained two types of training – contrastive analysis-based training and English-grammar-based training. In the contrastive analysis-based training, based on the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH), the participants received training on the differences and similarities between Dutch and English rules regarding the word order for adverbs of place and time. In the English-grammar-based training, however, participants only received training about these rules in English. This research attempts to test whether the weak version of the CAH can be useful in formal education, compared to EI on English rules only, and no training at all. The CAH posits that L2 difficulties can be explained by differences between the first language (L1) and the L2. The strong version of this hypothesis has been criticised and subsequently rejected by many researchers. However, there is little research about the use of the CAH in the context of formal L2 teaching (McManus & Marsden, 2019). The participants in the experiment were twenty-nine pupils, aged twelve to fourteen, from the Dr.-Knippenbergcollege in Helmond. They were all enrolled at HAVO level and were in their second year. In the experiment, one group of participants received contrastive analysis-based training, a second group received English-grammar-based training, and a third group received no training. Through a between-groups controlled pre-test / post-test design, we assessed whether the pupils had improved in their production of the word order regarding adverbs of place and time in written English in the post-test, compared to their performance in the pre-test. The pre-test and the post-test both consisted of a Sentence Order Task, in which the participants had to rearrange sentence chunks into the right order. Each test item contained one adverb of place and one adverb of time. The participants scored correctly if all parts were in the right order, and incorrectly if one or more parts were not in the right order. The results showed that pupils who received training were significantly more likely to score correctly in the post-test compared to pupils who received no training. However, results also showed that there was no significant difference in learning between the contrastive analysis-based training group and the English-grammar-based training group. The results thus show that while EI is beneficial for pupils, the type of training that pupils undergo does not matter for this grammatical feature.