The present work has two main objectives: (1) to join linguistic theory - within a Second Language Acquisition framework – with second/foreign language teaching (in this case, Spanish); and (2) to provide learners with a quality grammatical instruction for mood selection that may enable them to control their own learning and construct meaning on the basis of their communicative intent.
Grammar was worked from a cognitive perspective and the so-called Processing Instruction (PI) – within VanPatten’s Model of Input Processing, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2007 – was used for the practical part of the study. The cognitive grammar instruction drew on the pedagogical approach for Spanish as a foreign language developed by Ruiz Campillo (2007, 2008). From this approach, mood selection can be managed with a minimum of operational values that are prototypical in nature, and that in turn may allow learners to produce an unlimited number of utterances.
PI, on the other hand, facilitates the form-meaning connections that are necessary so that learners may link mood with context of use through structured practice. This practice was completed with both interpretation and production tasks, which interact and complement each other to provide a better acquisition of the target structure.
A total of 81 German students of the RWTH Aachen University participated in the empirical study conducted for this dissertation. They were organized in three experimental groups (interpretation, production, and control) and worked with mood selection in structures with increasing complexity: relative, temporal, and concessive clauses. Their performance was assessed with evaluation tasks before and after the grammar instruction treatments.
Results showed a positive and progressive development in the number of correct answers given for the three clause types. Learners were not only able to successfully connect mood with its meaning, but they also needed less grammar instruction time as the study progressed.
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