Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology, Leadership, and Higher Education

First Committee Member

Lisa Bendixen

Second Committee Member

Steven McCafferty

Third Committee Member

Vanessa Vongkulluksn

Fourth Committee Member

Tracy Spies

Number of Pages



University-level language and second-language classrooms typically use general rules of thumb to teach grammar without considering its conceptual aspects and cultural origins. These general rules of thumb are normally taught using a communicative approach to language teaching which typically places little emphasis on immediate corrective feedback and learner development. Most assessments are static in nature and focus on right and wrong answers rather than their origins (i.e., learner development and microgenesis). The lack of corrective feedback and lack of considering affective factors have the potential to negatively influence language acquisition in terms of motivation and self-efficacy. In addition, foreign language instructors typically do not assess learners’ level of language awareness in their native language and how it could negatively impact learning the target language (i.e., L2) at the beginner level. The native language (i.e., L1) is usually not considered as a tool to mediate concept development in the L2, even though research indicates it is a learner’s greatest mediation tool. However, if the L1 is not properly assessed for gaps in knowledge then it could have the reverse effects and result in negative transfer to the target language. Therefore, this study sought to understand how visual diagrams grounded in STI and CBI principles could evaluate native English speakers’ level of language awareness of tense and aspect. Consequently, the study aimed to evaluate how bringing the L1 tense and aspect system back into focus impacts L2 concept development in Italian (i.e., tense and aspect) and how acquisition of tense and aspect in Italian was impacted if taught sequentially. The findings in this study show that the L1 can be instrumental in L2 concept acquisition and development at the beginner level and increase motivation and self-efficacy. The study also transformed the participants’ perspective on grammar as essential to creating meaning that highly impacts communication and was not just an academic activity. Lastly, concept-based instruction pedagogical materials were found to be effective when teaching the L2 tense and aspect system through the lens of the L1 system.


English; Italian; L1; Language; STI; ZPD


Educational Psychology | Italian Language and Literature | Language Description and Documentation | Linguistics | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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