Response to Inferential Questions by Early Intermediate, Intermediate, and Early Advanced English Language Learners

Abstract This qualitative study was conducted with five Mexican American English language learners with varying degrees of English language acquisition. The study took place in Lake Elsinore, California. When the researcher began the process of answering the question of why English language learners at the early intermediate, intermediate, and early advanced level of English language acquisition failed to respond or responded erroneously to inferential questions: the researcher formulated a hypothesis. The researcher held the belief that the reason English language learners struggled with inferential questions was due to the underdevelopment of primary academic language which is embedded in the language acquisition device. As a result, points of language transfer from Spanish to English were diminished and could not be used for comprehension needs. As grounded theory was adopted, the underdevelopment of the language acquisition device hypothesis was abandoned. Informed by Cem Alptekin’s work on nativized and non nativized text and their affect on inferential comprehension with second language learners and Luis Moll’s research on how to implement prior knowledge and experiences into the classroom compelled the researcher to look elsewhere for answers. Data from field jottings and descriptive field notes were coded and tabulated. The hypothesis that emerged from the study was the overall English language learner inferential comprehension performance hypothesis. This hypothesis states that students at the early intermediate and intermediate levels of English language acquisition respond inferentially correct a greater number of times after reading nativized (culturally relevant) text as opposed non nativized (non cultural) text. On the other hand, emerging early advanced English language learners and early advanced English language learners respond inferentially well with both nativized and non nativized text.