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Noun premodification in multi-word lexical units in teaching English for traffic and transport purposes

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Polić, Tamara. (2019). Noun premodification in multi-word lexical units in teaching English for traffic and transport purposes. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature.
(Pds glotodidaktike) [mentor Zovko Dinković, Irena and Seljan, Sanja].

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Abstract

Developing the competences of reception (interpreting, decoding) and production of premodified nouns in multi-word lexical units (MWLU) and multi-noun lexical units (MNLU) in the English language is one of the fundamental tasks of teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at the tertiary education level, since their acquisition contributes to the development of reading comprehension of specialized texts as well as to writing such texts, where multi-noun lexical units are much more frequently used than in General English, primarily because of the principle of language economy. From the point of view of Second Language Teaching and Learning (Glotodidactics), students want to achieve near-native competences in ESP and to do so, they should master the principal rules of reception and production of MNLU. Complex premodification of nouns is an important feature of the English language, and technical English in particular, which allows a sequence of modifiers, belonging to various parts of speech, to be placed in front of the head noun, i.e. the final noun, without functional words assisting in the reception, i.e. in the recognition of semantic relations among them. When such sequences or multi-word lexical expressions consisting of two or more words but functioning as single lexemes become established in a specialized domain, according to Kereković (2012), they are called multi-word lexical units. In line with this definition, in this work we propose the term multi-noun lexical unit (MNLU), defined as a multi-noun syntagm consisting of two or more nouns functioning as a single lexeme. Thus, the main aim of the study is to empirically examine the reception and production of multinoun lexical units (MNLU) in English for Traffic and Transport Purposes (ETTP), i.e. to establish the level of initial competences of our participants (students) in the reception and production of multi-noun lexical units (MNLU), and their output competences after targeted teaching. Unlike the majority of works dealing with MWLU and MNLU (Levi 1978; Warren, 1978; Bartolić, 1978, 1979; Kvam, 1990; Štambuk, 1997, 2005; Master 2003, 2004; Gačić, 2009b; Špiranec, 2011; López-Jiménez, M. D., 2013; Borucinsky, 2015, and others), this study involves participants and is based primarily on the Second Language Teaching and Learning approach, as well as a syntactic-semantic approach, including statistical data processing and computer technology for text analysis. One hundred and sixty-seven traffic and transport first-year undergraduate students (M=125 (74.9%), F=42 (25.1%), age M=18.95; SD=0.820), participated in the study. They were recruited from three different Croatian institutions of higher education: the Polytechnic of Rijeka, the Polytechnic of Šibenik and the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences in Zagreb. For the purposes of this research, a quasi-experimental design with an initial language test as a pre-test and a final language test as a post-test was used. For designing the language test as an instrument, a computationally analysed corpus of written learning/teaching materials has been created, consisting of texts used in teaching ETTP at all three institutions. The final language test also comprised questions that provided insight into the students' opinion regarding the teaching of reception and production of multi-noun lexical units (MNLU). The study was conducted with a time lag between the two language tests. During this period, the treated group was taught the underlying principles of reception and production of multi-noun lexical units (MNLU), while the other two comparison groups were not exposed to such targeted teaching. The attainment of the treated group was compared to the attainment of the comparison groups. The analysis of the data obtained from language tests was carried out using the SPSS 20 (Statistical Package for Social Sciences). The research results indicate that teaching and learning the underlying principles of reception and production of multi-noun lexical units improves the overall level of student competences, and that it is more efficient for the reception than for the production competences. Besides, the level of student competences in the production of MNLU is lower as the number of nouns in premodification is higher, while this is only partially proved for the reception competences. Furthermore, the findings suggest that participants who graduated from grammar schools do not exhibit better initial competencies in receiving and producing MNLU than participants who attended vocational secondary schools. In addition, the results indicate that participants who had better marks in English as a foreign language (EFL) in the final year of secondary school and passed the advanced (A) level (as opposed to the basic (B) level) of EFL at the State Graduation Exam do not show better initial competences in reception of multi-noun lexical units but exhibit better competences in their production. Further, the findings suggest that most of the participants who were exposed to targeted teaching of the underlying principles of reception and production of MNLU agreed that the teaching/learning was useful and interesting, enhancing their learning proficiency. Even though most students argued that a higher level of concentration is required in dealing with the reception and production of MNLU, they partially agreed that they liked it and would like to be exposed more to teaching/learning of the competences in question. Knowledge of specialized professional vocabulary was considered by most participants as an important precondition for successful MNLU reception and production, while professional knowledge was not considered a necessary precondition by the majority of participants. The scientific contribution of doctoral thesis Premodification of Nouns in Multi-Word Lexical Units in Teaching English for Traffic and Transport Purposes is manifested in the originally designed empirical research of multi-noun lexical units in ESP, namely in ETTP, which includes participants, i.e. students of traffic and transport whose mother tongue is Croatian and who learn English as a foreign language (EFL). For the first time the initial level of student competences in reception and production of MNLU has been statistically analysed immediately after enrolling the studies, followed by the analysis of their output competences at the end of the first semester, during which period the treated group, unlike the two comparison groups, was exposed to the targeted teaching/learning of the abovementioned competences. The obtained results have been statistically compared thus evaluating the efficacy of teaching/learning the underlying principles of reception and production of MNLU in ESP, more specifically in ETTP. Moreover, the research results have also showed the differences between the reception and production of MNLU according to the number on nouns contained in them (two-noun, three-noun, four-noun and five-noun lexical units). In addition, for the first time, student opinions on different aspects of teaching/learning the underlying principles of reception and production of MNLU have been presented and analysed. Furthermore, the insight has been given into the differences between the level of the competences in question regarding the type of secondary school the students have graduated from, which has never been done before. Therefore, this doctoral thesis presents an original scientific research which gives novel and important contribution to the fields of English studies and of Second Language Teaching and Learning, offering new insights into the reception and production of MNLU in ESP, namely in ETTP, at the same time paving the way for future research involving various sample groups, such as students of other study programmes in the Republic of Croatia who are taught ESP, students non-native speakers of English in other countries, as well as English native speakers. From the theoretical point of view, the scientific contribution of this doctoral thesis lies in the coining of the novel term multi-noun lexical units (MNLU), which clearly distinguishes them from their hyperonymous category of multi-word lexical units (MWLU). It is also important to point out the practical and professional contribution that this research can have in teaching. The underlying principles of teaching a treated group the reception and production of MNLU can serve as a guide for ESP teachers, while the language test used as an instrument in the research can help them design similar tests depending on the ESP they teach.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: multi-word lexical units (MWLU), multi-noun lexical units (MNLU), English for Specific Purposes (ESP), English for Traffic and Transport Purposes (ETTP), teaching, learning, reception, production, students, language test, corpus
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Zovko Dinković, Irena and Seljan, Sanja
Additional Information: Pds glotodidaktike
Date Deposited: 23 May 2019 09:29
Last Modified: 23 May 2019 09:29
URI: http://darhiv.ffzg.unizg.hr/id/eprint/11425

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