Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Found in Space: A Cross-linguistic Analysis of Second Language Learners in English Map Task Performance
by Metheny, Susan Kathleen, Ph.D., The University of New Mexico, 2019, 282; 13904089
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation study addresses the grammar and conceptual organization of spatial language through an investigation of bilingual language use. This involves examining the types of spatial terminology that occur in natural language through the use of an elicited performance task called the Map Task, and the project using this task and direction-giving discourse, along with the ensuing analysis of the task, offers an intimate glimpse of how the usage of spatial language reflects the intention and cognitive grammatical structure of the speaker. Map drawing is a visual manifestation of an internal image and a symbolic behavior, a way for a human to represent himself or herself as a constituent member of an external space.

Understanding the relationship between first and second language use in the area of spatial language has broader implications for our understanding of language learning and consequences for the construction of bilingual assessment instruments for second language learners. The study shows that observing and interpreting the task of map drawing and the related behavior of explaining maps can be a way to explore the linguistic emergence of the conceptualization of spatial language (at a moment of simultaneous and synchronized incarnation). Altogether, 50 dyads (pairs) participated in the New Mexico Map Task Project; the project included native speakers of English, Russian, Japanese, Navajo, and Spanish.

In an examination of how the grammatical constructions used for spatial descriptions in a speaker's first language carry over into the usage of this speaker's second language, new observations include the intra-subject comparison of dyadic map task performances. Each non-native English-speaking dyad participates in two map task performances: one in their native language and one in their second language, English. Evidence was generated through morphosyntactic, phonological, and pragmatic analyses performed on the sound files of the transcripts. This evidence confirms the connection between the participants' productions of tokens of selected landmark names both in their native language and their second language.

Combining the results of linguistic analyses with educational assessment frameworks allows predicted development of an instrument for use with immigrant and refugee students from areas of conflict.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Axelrod, Melissa
Commitee: Celedon-Pattichis, Sylvia, Wilcox, Phyllis, Maalej, Zouhair, Mahn, Holbrook
School: The University of New Mexico
Department: Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies
School Location: United States -- New Mexico
Source: DAI-A 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, English as a Second Language, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Alternative educational assessment, Evaluation, Immigrant and refugee education, Multilingual acquisition, Non-formal education linguistic analysis, Out of school student
Publication Number: 13904089
ISBN: 9781088392119
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