A Comparison of the Effects of Explicit Phonics Instruction and the Revised Silent Way on EFL Elementary Students' Pronunciation

  • Ching-Jung Wu

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

This study compared the effects of explicit phonics instruction and the revised Silent Way method on EFL elementary school students’ pronunciation. Fifty-five fourth-grade students in an elementary school in Tainan City with very limited knowledge about phonics were selected to participate in two conditions: explicit phonics instruction and the revised Silent Way instruction.

 The experiments of the respective conditions lasted ten weeks (about 26 hours) and consisted of weekly two 80-minute phonics instruction sessions. Since the main focus of this classroom quasi-experiment is on students’ performance on six different patterns of vowels and multi-syllabic words, the aim of the instruction was to provide the students with the ability to identify vowel sounds and read aloud English words. Students were then administered three posttest measures: sound discrimination, word spelling, and reading aloud words.

 The findings of the study are summarized as follows:
1. Both explicit phonics instruction and the revised Silent Way method in 26 hours have positive effect on EFL elementary students’ ability to discriminate vowel sounds, spell English words, and read aloud English words.
2. Phonics group significantly outperformed the revised Silent Way group in sound discrimination task and the revised Silent Way group appeared to generate higher scores, though not significantly, on more sound patterns in reading aloud task. However, no significant differences existed on the improvement range of word spelling.
3. The two groups differed significantly when they were asked if they felt easy in learning English pronunciation. More students in the Phonics group agreed that the lessons were easy to them. As to the responses to the way of teaching, learning achievement and learning improvement, there were no significant differences between the two groups.

 In conclusion, this study shows that EFL elementary students could read English words independently after intensive phonics training. Explicit phonics instruction might be easy for students in understanding and could make more students feel big progress. However, without concrete device to rely on, students might confuse letter names with letter sounds easily and feel unconfident in application. Although the revised Silent Way method occupied students plenty of time to familiarize the sound-color-letter correspondences, it seemed to be more effective in helping young learners master the phonics rules and try reading long words aloud with the help of colors, the concrete device.
Date of Award2005
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHui-Tzu Min (Supervisor)

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