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Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition Essay (Critical Writing)


Summary

Data collated from a series of international studies help reveal that subtitled television programs can be a significant tool in foreign language acquisition. In one particular study, researchers wanted to find out if incidental language acquisition is possible if children are exposed to subtitled television programs. In order to answer this query, researchers created an experimental design, wherein three different groups of children were exposed to three different experimental conditions.

In the first phase, children watched a 15-minute snapshot of a well-known children’s television program from Italy. For the first experimental condition, a group of children watched the program with Greek subtitles. For the second phase, another group watched the same program without subtitles. For the third phase, a third group watched the same television program dubbed in Greek. The third experimental condition was the control.

Researchers discovered that there was significant acquisition of vocabulary after watching the program with subtitles. The same thing can be said about the ability to recognize Italian words. Researchers made the conclusion that Greek students in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade were able to incidentally acquire vocabulary in foreign language learning if they are exposed to a television program with subtitles. Based on data gathered, children belonging to Experimental 1 group achieved higher vocabulary acquisition compared to children belonging to the Experimental 2 group. It is also important to point out that the children in Experimental 2 fared better than children belonging to the Control Condition group. Researchers also found out that foreign language acquisition is affected by the children’s linguistic competence. Therefore, older children were able to acquire, and understand more Italian words as compared to younger students.

Critique

Insights gleaned from the study can give rise to future research opportunities. It may also lead to follow up questions with regards to the information collated during the research process. For example, it is interesting to know more about the nature of linguistic stimuli provided by the environment.

A successful experiment that yielded significant results must not stop researchers from improving the design of the research process. One way to improve the research process is to figure out the impact of watching a popular television program. It is important to know if the television program that was used for this study is popular within Greece. If it is not, then, it must be made clear that it is only popular in Italy. The admission that the television program is also popular in Greece is a significant piece of information that may alter the interpretation of the results of the experiment. Therefore, researchers must redesign the experiment to include television programs that are not popular among the participants.

Based on the current design, foreign language acquisition is credited to the ability of the students to associate Italian words with the subtitles, and the images seen on the screen. However, a popular Italian television program dubbed in Greek could also mean that the participants were able to watch the same program at home. In the process, they are able to interact with their parents or siblings with regards to the content of the said television program. Changing the television program in future studies may not result in significant changes, however, it may affect the results with regards to the difference in the scores between Experimental 2 and Control Condition groups.

It is also important to highlight the results for answers to Research Question 1. According to the proponents of the study, children belonging to Control Condition group scored 19.65. Without a doubt there is significant difference between the scores of Experimental 1 group and Control Condition groups. However, the difference between the scores of Experimental 2 and Control Condition groups is not that significant. The test score for Experimental 2 group is 22.39 while the test scores for Control Condition group is 19.65. Researchers must clarify why students belonging to the Control Condition group were able to score 19.65.

It has to be pointed out that Research Question 1 requires a high level of linguistic capability. With regards to Research Question 1 the assessment is called Italian vocabulary matching test. It means that students must match the correct translation for every Italian targeted word. But how can the students belonging to the Control Condition group associate the correct Greek translation for a particular Italian word. It must be made clear that foreign language acquisition using television programming was made possible through the use of images. They need to associate images with the spoken Italian words.

Finally, they have to associate the same words with the Greek subtitles. It is difficult to understand how they were able to determine the correct interpretation if they were unable to see the connection between the Italian words and the images shown on screen. It can be argued that the students were made familiar with the targeted Italian words. They were familiar with the targeted words because they were made to listen to an audio recording of a native speaker pronouncing the said words. Nevertheless, the process of language acquisition through television programming requires a specific mechanism. It requires associating words with images.

The point made earlier regarding the consequence of using popular television programming may have a basis after all. It is probable that the students are already familiar with the said television program. It is also probable that they have seen it before. It is also probable that they saw the program dubbed in Greek. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to explain how they were able to make the correct association between Greek and Italian words.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 7). Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/incidental-foreign-language-acquisition/

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"Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition." IvyPanda, 7 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/incidental-foreign-language-acquisition/.

1. IvyPanda. "Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition." June 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/incidental-foreign-language-acquisition/.


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IvyPanda. "Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition." June 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/incidental-foreign-language-acquisition/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition." June 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/incidental-foreign-language-acquisition/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Incidental Foreign Language Acquisition'. 7 June.

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