Using TV programs as a source of input to acquire idioms/idiomatic expressions for intermediate learners of English as a second language
Master of Education
SubjectTelevision in education
English language Idioms
English language Study and teaching Foreign speakers
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For intermediate and advanced learners of English as a second language (ESL), language improvement lies mainly in the expansion of vocabulary (Alexander, 1984). The command of idioms/idiomatic expressions is an important part of this vocabulary expansion. Hammerly (1982) notes that ESL learners can never become real communicators if they do not understand the colloquial and Idiomatic speech of native speakers. Television programs, such as soap operas and situation comedies are rich in this aspect of the language (Lafford, 1987). These programs present the language in simulated "real life" situations, and this cannot be achieved with conventional textbooks (Els, Bongaerts, Extra, Os & Dieten, 1986). This study explored the potential of television programs in promoting awareness and acquisition of idioms/idiomatic expressions with intermediate ESL learners. The theoretical framework was based on Krashen's (1985; 1987) second language acquisition theory, and focused particularly on two critical hypotheses: the input and affective hypotheses. Krashen (1985, 1987) contends that second language acquisition is achieved through receiving ample and comprehensible input in an anxiety-free environment, rather than conscious learning of the grammar and practicing of the structures. Apart from Krashen's hypotheses, the study was also based on the theory that activities which involve real communication promote language acquisition (Lafford, 1987; Rosenbaum, 1971; Tompkins & Hoskisson, 1991; Long & Porter, 1985; Irujo, 1986; & Berwald, 1985). The participants in this study acquired idioms/idiomatic expressions through exposure to television programs and engagement in activities that were intended to increase their awareness of and familiarity with idioms/idiomatic expressions. The research design was qualitative. The methods included a pretest and posttest to assess comprehension of the stories and of idioms/idiomatic expressions, participant observation, ongoing interviews and document analysis of the participants' journals. The participants were five Chinese students attending postsecondary institutions in Thunder Bay, who volunteered to attend a six-week course designed by the researcher who acted as instructor and participant observer.