Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #265
Influences on Acquisition and Outcomes of Foreign-Language Tact Instruction
Sunday, May 29, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 255
Area: VRB/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Anabela Santos (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: Danielle LaFrance, Ph.D.
Abstract: Around the world, many people receive compulsory foreign-language instruction or choose to study foreign languages for reasons that include employment prospects, mobility, cultural awareness, and desire to maintain connection with their ancestral cultures. Learning a new language, however, is a monumental task. In terms of vocabulary alone, students need to master thousands of words to communicate in everyday situations (see e.g., Nation & Waring, 1997). This symposium reports the results of three studies on teaching foreign-language vocabulary words in the form of tacting to students of various ages from various linguistic backgrounds. Anabela Santos presents on the effects of mastery criterion stringency on acquisition, generalization, and maintenance of foreign-language tacts. Elma Dögg Birgisdóttir presents an evaluation of the role of response contingencies in tact acquisition, intraverbal emergence, and maintenance in a comparison of a pair-test procedure with discrete-trial instruction. Finally, Danielle LaFrance presents on the effects of stimulus preference on tact acquisition and intraverbal emergence. Together, the three studies provide insights into the use of behavior-analytic concepts and tools to solve problems in foreign-language teaching and learning.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): acquisition, foreign language, intraverbal, tact
Target Audience: Researchers, educators, BCBAs, graduate students
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to 1. describe how mastery criteria, response contingencies, and stimulus preference were found to affect the acquisition of foreign-language tacts. 2. define two types of intraverbal responding that may emerge as a result of foreign-language tact instruction. 3. identify maintenance as an important outcome to evaluate in research on foreign-language instruction.
Effects of Mastery Criteria on Skill Maintenance of Foreign-Language Tacts
ANABELA SANTOS (Caldwell University), Ruth M. DeBar (Caldwell University), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University)
Abstract: There is minimal evidence to guide practitioners on selecting mastery criteria based on its effects on acquisition and maintenance across skills and populations. Although strategies for teaching foreign language skills have been investigated, the implications of mastery criteria on foreign language targets have not been explored. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and efficiency of acquisition and maintenance of 67%, 89%, and 100% mastery criteria of foreign language tacts by four adults of typical development. Stimulus generalization of tacts, maintenance at one- and three-weeks post-mastery, and the social validity of goals, procedures, and outcomes were assessed. Findings suggest that each mastery criterion effectively led to the acquisition of target responses and that responding generalized across untrained targets. Three of four participants demonstrated low responding across targets and untrained stimuli during the three-week maintenance probe. Goals, procedures, and outcomes were rated socially significant by practitioners. Although our results contribute recommendations for selection of mastery criteria by clinicians based on values that are both efficacious and efficient, our findings are limited by the points in time in which maintenance was assessed and warrant both intra- and inter-subject replication.

Evaluation of a Pair-Test Procedure in Computerized Foreign Language Vocabulary Instruction

ANNA PETURSDOTTIR (Texas Christian University; Reykjavik University), Juliana Sequeira Cesar de Oliveira (Texas Christian University), Elma Birgisdóttir (Reykjavik University)

Stimulus pairing procedures without contingencies on active student responding can result in the emergence of both conditional discriminations and topography-based verbal operants. However, dense student response contingencies have been found to improve outcomes of computerized programmed instruction. The present study compared two approaches to teaching foreign-language (FL) vocabulary words: discrete-trial (DT) instruction with a response contingency in every trial, and pair-test (PT) instruction with intermittent response contingencies. Participants were eight adults whose native language was Icelandic. Each participant was exposed to DT tact instruction with one set of Arabic words, and PT tact instruction with another set. A multielement design was used to compare tact acquisition in the two conditions. A within-subjects design was used to compare performance on an immediate post-test and a one-week follow-up test that assessed FL tacts and emergent intraverbal responding. PT instruction was found to produce highly similar outcomes to DT instruction on all measures, and three of five participants reported preferring PT to DT instruction.

Effects of Stimulus Preference on the Acquisition of a Small Foreign Language Vocabulary
Mariele Cortez (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos; Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino (INCT-ECCE) ), Maira Costa (Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil), DANIELLE LAFRANCE (Elemy Autism Care; Hunter College - City University of New York), Mayara Ferreira (Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: There is a growing body of literature examining the effectiveness of teaching a foreign language using behavior-analytic procedures. This study compared the acquisition of foreign tact responding as a function of stimulus preference and assessed the emergence of bidirectional intraverbal responses (Native-Foreign and Foreign-Native). Three typically developing Brazilian children participated. Sessions were conducted remotely using a platform for video and audio communications. First, the experimenter conducted a preference assessment to select the target stimuli for each participant based on their preference. During tact instruction, the experimenter presented a visual stimulus and asked for its foreign name. A progressive prompt delay was used. Emergent intraverbal responses were evaluated across Native-Foreign and Foreign-Native directions before and after instruction. Results showed that all participants met the learning and the emergence criteria for the high preferred stimulus set in fewer trial blocks than for the low preferred stimulus set. Also, the high-preferred set yielded greater emergence of all intraverbal relations. Results confirmed those of previous studies, showing that tact instruction is effective in producing emergent intraverbal responding, and suggesting that stimulus preference is an important variable when teaching a foreign language.



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