Wim Gombert

CHAPTER 8. Summary, discussion and conclusion 129 STUDY 3: CHUNKS IN WRITING AFTER SIX YEARS In Study 2 it was found that the DUB students scored signi cantly higher on both sentence complexity (average sentence length) and uency (word count) than their SB counterparts and the hypothesis was that this might have been due to the use of multiword sequences, operationalized as chunks (for a de nition of chunks see Table 12 reported in Chapter 6) e third study examined the written production of 56 French learners enrolled in either SB (N=24) or DUB (N=32) language classes. ese 56 French learners wrote two essays in the nal year, one in December and one in April. e December test was used for this study as this test had a smaller relative weight in the nal grade when compared to the April test and students were expected to produce more spontaneous language. e DUB students outperformed the SB students in terms of chunk coverage (an overall measure of chunk use) and they used signi cantly more chunks that were longer and lexically based. SB students, however, more o en made use of shorter, grammatically based chunks, which can easily be explained by this program’s focus on grammar, providing massive exposure to such grammatical chunks. However, no strong correlation was found between chunk coverage, complexity and uency measures, so chunks seem to represent a separate construct, probably related to idiomaticity or authenticity. Overall, this study supports the DUB notion that high exposure and a high degree of input repetition is helpful in the acquisition of chunks, especially longer lexically based chunks. STUDY 4: SPEAKING SKILLS AFTER SIX YEARS e nal study concerns speaking skills. In the SB program speaking activities were limited to short practice rounds, mostly by reproducing speci c sentences and dialogues and the program focused more on the acquisition of (lexical and grammatical) knowledge and on receptive skills. e DUB program, in contrast, focused throughout on speaking skills and the learners were asked to communicate in French from the rst day of French class in year 1. Early on, students mainly repeated and imitated parts of the story in playful drills, but as the students’ linguistic repertoire and their con dence in using that repertoire grew, they were invited to improvise with this repertoire and extend it further as part of the DUB approach. Students were tested with an adapted version of the Student Oral Pro ciency Assessment (SOPA), details of which are provided in chapter 7 and appendices F and G. e hypothesis underlying this study was that the DUB students would outperform the SB students in oral pro ciency. As expected, DUB students scored signi cantly higher than SB students on all oral pro ciency measures.