The survey design for this research proposal is intended to examine the effects of various methodologies and strategies to improve second language acquisition in the Defense Language Institute's (DLI) program for Arabic language instruction. A mixed method of inquiry was chosen for this design in order to compare both the actual test scores of students undertaking the program and the qualitative experiences the students went through as a result of the various interventions.
Twenty military students will be selected at random among those signed up to take the DLI course for 41 weeks. The only stratification that will occur in sample selection is that of currently enrolled DLI students. The instrument used in this mixed method study will be the Oral Proficiency Interview, created by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. This survey addresses functional speaking ability of a language, in this case Arabic, using various criteria to determine overall performance.
The pilot program has already been conducted as a 41-week, 5 day week, 7 hour per day program at Ft. Huachuca, running for the past three years - this will be used as a barometer for the current research design. The survey will be administered at the end of each course, either the 16 month DLI basic course or the 41 week course at Ft. Huachuca.
Variables in the study include the type of intervention used; whether or not the pilot program, the enhanced DLI course, or no changes provide a better outcome on the OPI. This will help to answer the research question of what interventions can be made to improve Arabic language acquisition. The results of this survey will be analyzed via an analysis of variance (ANOVA) test, in order to compare the mean results of the OPI test returns on each intervention.
Response bias will not be an issue, as the results are based strictly on performance, which depends directly on ability to answer the questions correctly. The bias is clear - all answers should be answered correctly; what is tested is whether or not the student can, based on what they have learned through these interventions.
Internal consistency will be measured using Cronbach's alpha, which will help to determine how reliable the data is when compared to the scales. The confidence interval (CI) will be determined in order to show the reliability of the estimated means and the overall effectiveness of the interventions. Statistical significance will be achieved through statistical hypothesis testing to check for a P score below 5%. The results will be interpreted by comparing the mean scores of the OPI test results for each experimental group and the control group, in order to determine whose was higher. The intervention with the highest score will, therefore, have answered the research question of whether or not these interventions can improve SLA skills in military students who are attempting to learn Arabic.
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