INTERFERENCE OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR IN
SPANISH GRAMMAR AND ITS EFFECTS ON
COMPREHENSION OF STANDARD SPANISH AMONG
RICAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
School of Education
Billingual Education Program
Edwin Blanco Fernández
Advisor: Dr. María E. Brisk
This work investigates how the Interference of English Grammatical Structure
affects Reading Comprehension Structure of Standard Spanish.
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
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
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