Proyecto Tesis (Disertación)









Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Ed. D.


Boston University

School of Education


Billingual Education Program




Edwin Blanco Fernández



May, 1981

Advisor: Dr. María E. Brisk


    This work investigates how the Interference of English Grammatical Structure affects Reading Comprehension Structure of Standard Spanish.

    There were 13 males and 18 females in the sample. Their mean age was 16.7 years with standard deviation of 1.2 years. The grade distribution of these participants was as follows: 9th - 10 students; 10th - 7 students; 11th - 8 students; 12th - 6 students.

    It was hypothesized that the influence of the English Grammat­ical Structure into the Spanish Grammatical Structure of the Puerto Rican high school students studied was indeed a factor that inter­fered with reading comprehension.

    An oral multiple choice interference test was administered to all the students. The teacher explained the selection process, and the students marked their answers on an answer sheet. This test was based on Dr. Salas’ Ph. D. dissertation finding of English inter­ference within the Puerto Rican community. For the purpose of this test certain parts of the Salas' finding were selected, such as grammatical structure.

    A reading inventory test was also administered to the stu­dents. This test was based on Blooms Taxonomy Reading Comprehension Scale. Also, Thomas' criterion was used in order to establish an index of reading difficulty on reading comprehension. This story was carefully measured as follows:

Number of words = 368
Number of sentences = 30
Average sentence length 30/368  =     .12
Complexity of vocabulary .368/27 =     .07

    The Instrumentation Language Assessment Scale (LAS) was administered to each student at the school in order to find out the level of language proficiency in English, and the results were used in this study as a screening device.

    Cloze test results were used to verify that all subjects were at comparable levels of general reading ability in Spanish. The procedure consists of deleting every nth word and replacing it with a blank line. Students then read the materials, and attempt to fill in the blanks using the correct word according to the proper con­text of the sentence. The percentage of correct answers is then calculated and from these percentages Independent Instruction and Frustration reading levels are derived.

    A number of findings which emerged from the data in this study were: First, reading comprehension in Spanish is correlated with English language interference; that is, students with low inter­ference had higher scores in reading comprehension in Spanish. This finding is supported by the negative correlations in Table VI.

    This finding supports the main hypothesis of the study, which is: That there is a greater difficulty in reading comprehen­sion in Spanish relative to the amount of English language grammatical structures interference.

    Interference in Spanish is a significant variable in the ability of students to read Standard Spanish. The results in Table XI show that the interference variable is significant at the .O1 level. In addition, when interference is analyzed by type of structure, certain types of structures such as, morpheme change, or the appear­ance of an extra word seem to cause more problems than others. The results in Table XII show that two of the syntactic structures account for most of the variance in interference while lexical change does not account for much of the difference.

    The lack of correlation between knowledge of oral English and interference in Spanish indicates that interference may be more a function of not knowing the standard Spanish rather than increase in knowledge of English, which suggests that increasing the know­ledge of the structures of standard Spanish will increase the read­ing comprehension of Spanish.

    This research also suggests that grammatical interference can cause more problems than lexical interference in reading com­prehension.

    These results are suggestive rather than definite since the initial question related to interference in general and the stu­dents were not tested for numerous examples of each kind of structure. This analysis also showed that proficiency in oral English is pres­ent in the oral readers proving once more that ability in one lang­uage does not impair ability in the other, on the contrary it may indeed be an asset.

    General ability to read Spanish is helpful but when faced with a passage containing structures that differ from the Standard dialect in this case caused by English interference when the child does not know the standard structure, is going to affect the compre­hension of that passage.

    The results in Table VII demonstrate that there were significant negative correlations between total comprehension and interference on verbs and additional parts of the speech (one extra word). Thus, lower reading comprehension in Spanish is partially associated with high interference on verbs and additional parts of the speech (one extra word), and high comprehension is associated with low interference on verbs and additional parts of the speech (one extra word).

    It was also found that there was a negative correlation between interference on specific English language grammatical struc­tures and their corresponding grammatical structures in Spanish reading comprehension. In addition to the relationship of specific grammatical structures and corresponding structures in reading com­prehension, there were also negative correlations between total comprehension and interference on specific grammatical structures.


© Copyright by Edwin Blanco

May, 1991

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