Using the Dictogloss in the high school foreign language classroom : noticing and learning new grammar



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The purpose of this classroom-based study was to create a variation of the Dictogloss that is successful in teaching target grammar within a meaningful context in beginning level secondary foreign language classrooms. Specifically, the study aimed to find out if there were differences in the amount of target grammar (demonstrative adjectives and the imperfect tense) noticed, learned and used by students in the three treatment groups: Treatment Group 1 completed a traditional Dictogloss with the last phase being a self-reflection activity, Group 2 was the same as Group 1, except the learners saw a written version of the text during the first reading in addition to hearing the text. Both the written text and a whole class discussion during the last stage of the Dictogloss were added to the lessons completed by Group 3.
Differing from traditional DG studies that tend to examine Language Related Episodes, quantitative data was collected via pre, immediate post and delayed post-tests which consisted of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. Although there were significant within-group differences for all three groups, indicating that the participants in all groups noticed and began learning the target grammar, there were no significant between-groups differences, suggesting that the addition of the written text and class discussion did not increase the amount of target grammar learned by the students. While the test scores showed that the participants’ knowledge of the TG did improve, the fact that many participants never scored above chance level shows that the Dictogloss is not an effective stand-alone activity for teaching TG.
Qualitative data was also collected via student surveys and the written metatalk produced during self-reflection activities. The participants were asked what they liked, did not like and what they learned during the Dictogloss lesson. The data was analyzed using Content Analysis which revealed three themes: organization and administration of the Dictogloss based on the theoretical framework of the Dictogloss, issues regarding the texts and the Dictogloss and learning. The collaborating classroom teacher was interviewed two times in order to further analyze the effectiveness of using the variations of the Dictogloss with beginning Spanish FL learners.