Date of Award

12-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Sherry Mee Bell

Committee Members

Karl Jost, Steve McCallum, Edmund Campion

Abstract

Relationships among foreign language attitudes and perceptions and reading skills were investigated for 278 English-speaking college students enrolled in 100 and 200 level foreign language classes using the Foreign Language Attitudes and Perceptions Survey (FLAPS; Sparks and Ganschow, 1993), a 35 item questionnaire, the Test of Dyslexia, Rapid Assessment Profile (TOD-RAP; Bell, McCallum, & Cox, 2003), and the Woodcock Johnson III (WJIII; McGrew & Woodcock, 2001). Correlational analyses indicated that spelling, silent reading fluency, orthography and listening vocabulary were correlated modestly but significantly with foreign language attitudes and perceptions, i.e., those with weaker reading and reading-related scores exhibited more negative attitudes and perceptions (correlations range from -.26 to -.05). Mean difference analysis for high (HR), medium (MR) and low risk (LR) dyslexia groups based on spelling performance revealed significant differences in FLAPS scores (p < .05)but no significant differences in FLAPS scores based on language being learned and no significant interaction (p > .05). Follow-up analyses indicated significantly higher FLAPS scores for HR versus LR participants. Results of a second mean difference analysis, with dyslexia risk operationalized by reading fluency scores, yielded no significant differences based on dyslexia risk status, language being learned, or the interaction. A post hoc analysis of covariance revealed significant difference in attitudes and perceptions as measured by the FLAPS as a function of language being studied when reading scores were controlled (p < .05). Students enrolled in German classes had lower FLAPS scores (i.e., more positive attitudes) than students taking Spanish. Results are consistent with previous research indicating high school students with learning disabilities report more negative experiences in learning a foreign language; results are inconsistent with assertions that students studying Spanish experience less difficulties than those studying Spanish, a more transparent language. Apparently learning a foreign language is difficult for those with dyslexia tendencies and underscores the importance of instructor awareness and flexibility in teaching methods and grading.

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