Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date



The major problem investigated by this study was whether or not Mexican American bilingual fourth and ninth grade students represent the same language population in their English syntactic usage as do Anglo American fourth and ninth grade students in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The first hypothesis specified that the distributions of the following variables of the bilingual and monolingual groups were not significantly different in the oral and written modes: average number of words per clause; average number of clauses per T-unit; average number of words per T-unit; total "sentence-embedding" transformations and "sentence-embedding" transformations in headed nominal, non-headed nominal, adverbial, and coordinated structures; and syntactic and morphological rule variations per 100 words. The second hypothesis specified that there would be an increase in the syntactic maturity measures from grade four to grade nine and that there would be no difference between bilingual and monolingual groups in the amount of increase. The third hypothesis specified that there would be no significant difference between the oral and written samples of each study group in the variables specified in the first hypothesis.

Twenty-one fourth grade bilingual, sixteen fourth grade monolingual, nineteen ninth grade bilingual, and nineteen ninth grade monolingual subjects were taped in individual interviews, and their written in-class free-writings were collected to provide the basic data. The written and oral productions were divided into T-units as the basis for analysis. The data were subjected to the Kolmogorov- Smirnov two-sar.,ple test to test for significant differences in the variables according to distribution, skewness, and central tendency.

Only two significant differences were found. Firs��, the average clause length of ninth grade bilingual subjects was shorter than that of. ninth grade monolingual subjects in the written mode. Second, the average T-unit length or fourth grade monolingual subjects was longer in the oral mode than in the written mode. Also, the syntactic maturity measures tended to increase in size from fourth to ninth grade slightly more for monolinguals than for bilinguals.

It was concluded that the bilingual subjects represent the same language population as the monolingual subjects in their English syntactic usage, except in average clause length in the written mode in ninth grade. Since the bilingual subjects can produce the same structures as the monolingual subjects, it was suggested that differences between groups can be diminished by providing appropriate language experiences in class.

Document Type




Degree Name

Secondary Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Robert H. White

Second Committee Member

Peter Prouse

Third Committee Member

Mari Luci Jaramillo