Publication |Sophia Linguistica

Systemic Theoretical Instruction for EFL Learners: Improving the Accuracy of Modal Verb Use


Kentaro Ochi


Grammar instruction is a common teaching method for teaching English in Japan;
however, attention to the quality of the instruction has been lacking. Systemic Theoretical
Instruction (STI) is a sociocultural theory based pedagogy that has shown positive effects
on teaching and improving English grammar in ESL environments. In order to determine
the effectiveness of STI for learners of English in Japan, this study utilized a pre- and
post-test design to compare the change in their scores. The participants were first year
university students in Japan (n = 23). The modal verbs tested were: must, could, should,
and would. Five questions from each modal verb were chosen totaling 20 items on a
multiple choice test. Paired t-test showed a significant difference and a large effect size
between the pre- and post-test scores (t(22) = 3.656, p = .001, r = 0.62). Furthermore,
Transcript data of the think aloud showed that participants were able to better elaborate
on the answer choices that they made. Overall, STI-based instruction was effective in
improving the accuracy of the modal verb use in an EFL environment; however, further
research is needed to determine whether the STI-based instruction is more effective than a
traditional teaching method and whether it is applicable for different aspects of grammar
and level of learners.