Date of Award

8-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

First Advisor

Charkova, Krassimira

Abstract

AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF ANGEL MARIA DAVILA, for the Master of Arts degree in TESOL and Applied Linguistics, presented on February 21, 2013, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: SPANISH SPEAKERS' READING PRODUCTION OF ENGLISH PAST TENSE INFLECTIONAL MORPHEME -ed MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Krassimira Charkova The main purpose of the present study was to examine if the accurate pronunciation of the three allomorphs of the -ed ending improves with the level of English proficiency in Nicaraguan Spanish EFL learners' read aloud production. There were 48 participants. They belonged to three English proficiency levels: high beginners, intermediate and high intermediate. Each level consisted of 16 informants, with the same number of women and men. The research instrument included a list of 44 regular past tense verbs to measure the three phonological realizations of the -ed inflectional morpheme. The results revealed that the effect of proficiency level was different for the three allomorphs. It was found that more advanced EFL Spanish learners had a significantly higher level of accuracy on the production of two of the three allomorphs, /t/ and /d/. In fact, their error rate on these two allomorphs was as low as 9% and 8%, respectively. In the case of the /əd, ɪd/ allomorph, no significant differences were found among proficiency levels. Moreover, this allomorph showed the lowest rate of errors overall. These results were interpreted in view of the Markedness Differential Hypothesis (Eckman, 1977) and the Similarity Differential Rate Hypothesis (Major & Kim, 1996). The trends in the data definitely suggested support for Similarity Differential Rate Hypothesis which postulates that markedness by itself cannot explain the development of L2 learners as they improve their L2 level of proficiency. In the context of the present study, this was evident in the significantly better performance of the most advanced group which showed the highest rate of accuracy on the more marked allomorphs /t/ and /d/. In view of these findings, the study offers implications for the teaching of the three phonological realizations of the -ed past tense inflection. Keywords: allomorph, inflectional morpheme, proficiency level

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