The Effect of a Cognitive Linguistics Approach to Teaching the Semantic Meanings of German Modal Verbs
Nikolova, Miglena M.
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This study examined the acquisition patterns of the prototypical and epistemic semantic meanings of German modals. It investigated whether different instructional approaches (Cognitive Instruction [CI], Traditional Instruction [TI]) have the potential to foster modal verbs acquisition, and which of the two approaches was more effective. Thirty-three, fourth semester learners of German as a foreign language were subjected to one of the experimental conditions (CI, TI). Findings were compared to a control condition (C), which did not receive any instruction. Learning gains were measured by means of a multiple choice meaning recognition test that assessed students’ gains of receptive knowledge of the prototypical and epistemic senses of German modals. In addition, participants were asked to complete a five point Likert scale that reported students’ confidence in each response. Results showed that students gained no prototypical receptive knowledge as a result of the treatment (CI, TI, C). With regard to the epistemic meanings, however, results demonstrated that when students received no instruction (C), they did not gain any knowledge as a result of taking the pre-test, immediate post-test, and delayed post-test. Furthermore, results revealed that the TI approach helped students gain some epistemic semantic knowledge as a result of the treatment. However, this knowledge was not retained a week later. Lastly, the current study demonstrated that when students received cognitive instruction (CI), they gained greater epistemic semantic knowledge when compared to the TI approach or the C condition. Most importantly, it was shown that the CI approach has greater effect on meaning retention of modal verbs multiple senses when compared to the TI approach or the C condition. Finally, results revealed that students’ confidence levels in their ability to recognize the semantic meanings of German modals were significantly influenced by the treatment type (CI, TI, C). Consequently, students who learned the semantic meanings of German modals through CI instruction were more confident in their ability to recognize the semantic meanings of German modals when compared to the TI group or the C condition. Moreover, the students who received no instruction (C) demonstrated lower confidence levels than the students in the TI group.
SubjectTeaching German Modal Verbs
Cognitive Linguistics Teaching Approach
Teaching Polysemous Lexical Items