The Effects of Systemic-Theoretical Instruction on Developing Iranian EFL Learners’ Explicit and Implicit Knowledge of Tense-Aspect System

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of English, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 English Department, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

Abstract

This study aimed to investigate the effects of Systemic Theoretical Instruction (STI), grounded in Socio-cultural Theory and proposed by Gal’perin, on developing Iranian EFL learners’ knowledge of English tense-aspect system. To this end, two low-intermediate classes, including 24 and 21 language learners aged between 12-19, were taught the distinction between simple past and present perfect tense through STI and traditional method of grammar instruction. The learners sat for a pretest one week before the treatment and an immediate and delayed posttest, one and three weeks after the instruction, respectively. The tests included binary-choice and gap-filling items to evaluate the learners’ explicit knowledge of the target tense-aspect pairings and elicited imitation test items to check their implicit knowledge. The results obtained from a series of independent and paired-sample t-tests revealed a significant improvement for both groups in the immediate posttest both in terms of the entire test and its subcomponents suggesting that both types of instruction were effective in improving the learners’ implicit and explicit knowledge of the target forms in the short term. However, the significant outperformance of the STI group compared to the traditional group implied the superiority of this method. Moreover, the STI group generally outperformed the traditional group in the delayed posttest indicating the possibility of having a more lasting effect on developing learners’ knowledge when compared to the traditional method. These findings can have significant implications for teachers and materials developers in practicing the assumptions of more innovative approaches such as STI.

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