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The acquisition of questions by Indonesian adult learners of English as a foreign language

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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:18 authored by Zaim, M
Questions, as a sentence form that functions to elicit information, are important to examine both semantically and syntactically. Semantically, a single question form may have different functions in communication which may create problems if the question is not appropriately used. Syntactically, problems can arise in forming questions, not only for a second language learner but also for a child learning its first language. The development of learner's questions can be identified from the types of errors made in forming questions,. This study investigated the development of questions by Indonesian adult learners English as a foreign language (EFL). The linguistic problems they faced and their relation to teachers' responses and teaching strategies in the classroom were examined. This study was a process-product research study: the 'process' of interaction between learners and their classroom environment was observed, and the 'product' of the utterances that the learners actually produced was analysed. This allowed the identification of the conditions that enable learners to acquire language and the stages of their question development. Two groups of adult learners were observed. In each group, eight learners were randomly selected and their language development was observed over one semester. Data from classroom interaction were collected by a multi-person multi-method procedure, that is by gaining information of the process of classroom interaction from both teachers and learners, and observing, audio recording, interviewing, and administering questionnaires. A cross-sectional study and a longitudinal study were undertaken by observing the process of learning of the 16 learners and assessing both their oral and written question forms to ascertain their question formation development. By analysing the quantitative data from the questionnaires, and the qualitative data from the interviews and observations, it was found that teachers in Group 1 created more activities that enabled learners to speak freely in class. That is why more questions were asked by the learners of this group in classroom interaction compared to Group 2. It was also found that meaningful communicative activities in small group work and pair work encouraged learners to ask and answer questions spontaneously in their own words, so that the process of language acquisition functioned well in these activities. From this investigation of the linguistic problems the learners faced in forming questions, it was found that most of the errors made by the learners were developmental errors. The dominant errors made were in fronting. Interlingual errors occurred in using question words, non-verb sentences, and yes-no questions in wh-question forms. The decrease in generating non-grammatical questions and the increase in producing grammatical questions indicated that the learners showed a developmental progress in their formation of questions in English. Some learners improved from stage 3 (fronting) of question development to stage 4 (Inversion in yes-no questions) and 5 (inversion in wh-questions), while two learners remained in stage 3 (fronting) of their question development. These findings suggest that meaningful communicative activities in English as a foreign language classroom interaction encourage learners to communicate in the language being learned without having pressure, for instance being afraid of making mistakes. The investigation of linguistic problems revealed that errors in the higher stage of question development reflected the types of errors made in the previous stages. For further research, it is suggested that the nature of the relationship between teaching strategies used by teachers and the development of questions by EFL learners be more fully established by correlational or experimental studies. Similarly, it would be useful to study the relationship between teaching strategies and EFL learner development of English question forms by controlling age ranges of students studied and by replicating the study with beginner and advanced EFL learners as well as intermediate learners.

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Copyright 1998 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (EdD)--University of Tasmania, 1998. Includes bibliographical references

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