Perception and Production of Thai Learners on English Prepositions

  •  Sugunya Ruangjaroon    


In this paper, Iadopt Best’s (2001) Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) to account for how Thai learners acquire English prepositions in prepositional phrases and propose the ranking order of English preposition acquisition into three different categories. The ranking is as follows: Category A is a one-to-one semantic mapping between English and Thai prepositions, therefore ranked first suggesting that they would be the easiest to be acquired. Category B is a one-to-many semantic mapping between English and Thai prepositions. Acquisition of Category B should be more difficult than Category A because one English preposition can have more than one correspondence in Thai. Category C is one-to-null mapping between English and Thai prepositions. A preposition that exists in one language can be null in another language. Category C would rank the lowest in terms of acquisition.

The participants consisted of 20 graduate students in the MA program at a university in Bangkok. They were placed into medium (8-10) and low (6-7) proficiency levels of English by a placement test called the Language and Instructor System (ELLIS) administered via computer. The two tests used in this study were a grammatical judgment test for English prepositions and a writing test. The two tests were exactly parallel in each item. The correlation between their awareness in spotting incorrect prepositions and the ability to use correct ones were measured using Pearson’s correlation coefficient.

The results were consistent with the ranking proposed here. It showed that L2 Thai acquirers of English prepositions were able to judge grammatical and ungrammatical sentences correctly with respect to the ranking A>>B>>C. However, no significant difference of the correlation between perception and production in all categories was found. The results further revealed that both medium and low proficient participants were able to perceive and produce dependent prepositions more accurately than independent prepositions.

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