An exploration of the conceptual associations in second language learning among financially disadvantaged preschool learners

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics

Subject Categories

First and Second Language Acquisition | Linguistics


Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


English and Applied Linguistics

Thesis Adviser

Emma S. Castillo

Defense Panel Chair

Allan B.I. Bernardo

Defense Panel Member

Rosemarie L. Montañano
Andrea H. Peñaflorida
Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista
Guillermina L. Versoza


This study explores the thoughts and creative conceptual associations in the minds of six four- and five-year-old financially disadvantaged preschoolers while listening to the teacher reading to each child five selected English stories at intervals. Since read-aloud sessions were conducted in the De La Salle University Nursery Outreach Project, the researcher decided to explore the conceptual associations made by the six subjects during each reading session and especially during the four communication activities conducted after each story was read.The study found out that preschool children coming from financially disadvantaged families were capable of making colorful and meaningful conceptual associations. All four- and five-year-old children were able to form complexes based on Vygotsky's (1962, 1986) five levels of thinking in complexes. The four-year-old subjects were equally able to form as many as four out of the five complexes. Only the youngest formed two complexes, maybe because he had limited responses to the communication activities, but the other two four-year-olds managed to form as many as those made by the five-year-olds. The five-year-old subjects, on the other hand, formed more examples under each level of complex. Of the six subjects, the two eldest members were able to form all the five levels.

Tagalog, the subjects' L1, along with their cultural experiences at home in their immediate neighborhood, was the rich source of their conceptual associations. For ideas that they did not know, they either made their own version of the story or they substituted the image with something familiar to them.The appropriation of Heath's (1983) ethnography of communication in this study provided a background that shed valuable information from the analysis of the data collected. The background information on the subjects' experiences at home and in their immediate environment facilitated in connecting the children's conceptual associations to their possible source. For example, from the background information, it could be deduced that the subjects' exposure to the harshness of life very early in the environment made them very much in touch with human realities like food, money, persons, animals, values, feelings, and social realities around them, as reflected in their conceptual associations. It could also be seen that these six preschool children coming from financially disadvantaged families were in touch with the values on goodness as well as on meanness in the characters' behavior. Awareness of the young learners capacity to make conceptual associations early in life could serve as a challenge to L2 teachers to prepare lessons that harness their ability to use L1 and their knowledge of the world during the second language acquisition process in order to spur their young minds to learn new concepts which later become, not just part of their memory, but of their future thinking in concepts as well.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

135 numb. leaves ; computer print-out


Second language acquisition; Language transfer (Language learning); Language awareness in children; Preschool children

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