Improving Spanish Language Learners' Understanding of the Preterite/Imperfect Dichotomy: A Research Study

Comfort Pratt, Francisco Lluna, Yongjun Dan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article puts forward a new strategy for teaching the Spanish preterite/imperfect dichotomy, which is one of the most difficult distinctions for Spanish language learners (SLLs) to grasp. For this strategy, we propose our microwave/crock pot metaphor which states: “The preterite is the microwave oven while the imperfect is the crock pot.” The metaphor is based on the fact that the preterite is used when the focus of the speaker/author is on the beginning and/or the end of the action whereas the imperfect is used when the focus of the speaker/author is on the progression of the action. An experimental study was conducted among 111 college students enrolled in intermediate Spanish who were given informational packets based on either traditional explanations (control group) or the microwave/crock pot explanation (experimental group) and tested. Findings showed that on the post test, the experimental group scored significantly higher than the control group, and that while there was no
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
JournalSouthern Journal of Linguistics
StatePublished - Mar 2011

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