Sensory Chunking and the Like: Testing a Pedagogical Treatment Applied to the Strengthening of the Third-Person Singular-s

Verónica Mendoza-Fernández


Research into foreign language acquisition reports that learners of English as a foreign language are inconsistent with the suppliance of verbal morphology and tend to omit morphemes such as the third-person singular -s even at advanced instructional stages. Researchers rely on Generative linguistics and models such as the Minimalist Programme (Chomsky, 2000, 2015/1995) and the Feature Assembly Hypothesis (Lardiere, 2005, 2007, 2009) to account for such variability. The present study attempted to increase the accuracy rates of the -s. The author designed a treatment (©2018, 2019, Verónica Mendoza Fernández) that centered around sensory chunking (teaching with chunked sentences). Sixty-four learners of English as a foreign language from three different rural schools of primary education in Northern Spain participated in a classroom experiment that followed a pretest-postest procedure. Participants from school 1 constituted the control group and participants from schools 2 and 3, the experimental groups. The results of a grammaticality judgement task indicated a statistically significant increase in the accuracy rates of the -s for one of the experimental groups and a trend towards significance for the other experimental group. The treatment could promote the learning of linguistic items contained within blocks of language, as well as the learning of such blocks, and thus foster language automatisation.

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