A Study of the Impact of Contrastive Analysis Instruction on the Metalinguistic and Phonological Awareness of Third-Grade African American Language/Ebonics Speakers

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Spring 2020


The language of African American children as a major factor in reading failure has been a subject of debate and research since the 1960s. The primary issue has been what constitutes effective reading instruction for African American Language/Ebonics (AAL/E) speakers who experience reading difficulty related to their language. One language-related reading problem is the inverse relationship between AAL/E and phonological awareness (Charity, Scarborough, & Griffin, 2004; Sligh & Conners, 2003). This inverse relationship is problematic because phonological awareness is essential for reading success (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). However, Terry (2014) concluded that metalinguistic awareness could mitigate the effects of the inverse relationship between AAL/E and phonological awareness. This 8-week multiple-case study examined the impact of contrastive analysis instruction on the metalinguistic and phonological awareness of 8 third-grade AAL/E speakers. Convenience and criteria sampling were employed to recruit participants from an urban low socioeconomic-status community of the southwestern United States. The theoretical frameworks of culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995) and “word learning processes” of “delayed and disabled readers” (Ehri & McCormick, 2013, p. 136) guided the study. Participants' pretest and posttest scores on the Word Identification and Word Attack subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests (3rd ed.), were compared. Initial and final interviews using the Read-Aloud/Think-Aloud Semi-Structured Interview Protocol were employed to examine the impact on participants' metalinguistic awareness and the relationship of metalinguistic awareness to gains in phonological-awareness scores. Data were analyzed using provisional codes of “academic achievement, cultural competence, and cultural critique” (Ladson-Billings, 2009, pp. 477-478) and the developmental phases of word learning knowledge: “pre-alphabetic, partial-alphabetic, full alphabetic, consolidated, and automaticity” (Ehri, 2011, p. 232). Based on themes that emerged from the data, the researcher concluded that participants viewed themselves as standard English (SE) speakers but used AAL/E to communicate during educational activities and demonstrated “passive knowledge of language in text but an inability to use the language spontaneously in speech” (Bryan, 2004, p. 88). Contrastive analysis instruction may have contributed to gains in the Word Identification subtest scores, Word Attack subtest scores, and grade-level equivalent.


Joyce Miller

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education