Article published in:Leerderskenmerken: Individuele verschillen in het leren van talen.
[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 37] 1990
► pp. 24–34
Het Belang Van Domeinspecifieke Versus Algemene Persoonskenmerken Als Predictor Van Leerresultaten
This article reports research carried out on experimental teaching material for listening comprehension and for oral production in French, based on a communicative-thematic approach. These materials were developed for Dutch pupils of mixed ability groups in the first stage of secondary education (Jacobs-Hessing 1989). An attempt has been made to take individual differences between pupils into account by means of offering a great variety in course-content and in learning activities. Notwithstanding the variety of these materials, the question remains, whether certain learner characteristics continue to affect the learning process and the learning results. After a review of the literature on the role of learner characteristics in FL-acquisition and after an analysis of the course materials, the following independent variables were selected: motivation, negative fear of failure, field dependence-independence, attitude towards the learning of foreign languages, and prior FL-knowledge. As dependent variables, listening comprehension and oral production tests were devised, used for the interim as well as for the final assignments. Both the classroom and the individual learners' research showed that the domain-specific variable 'prior knowledge' explained substantially more variance in pupils' performance on French tests than the general learner characteristics. Results of individual protocol analyses identified, for each of the assignments in the final test, different types of task approaches. Differences in learning results appear to be due to a combination of specific prior knowledge and the type of task approach. The importance of prior knowledge (especially general skills, knowledge of the world, and FL vocabulary knowledge) is discussed, and recommendations are made regarding the development of thematic communicative material and curriculum research.
Published online: 24 March 2014