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


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Zaim, M 1998 , 'The acquisition of questions by Indonesian adult learners of English as a foreign language', EdD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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
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.

Item Type: Thesis - EdD
Authors/Creators:Zaim, M
Keywords: English language, Second language acquisition
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (EdD)--University of Tasmania, 1998. Includes bibliographical references

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