Over the last decade or so, there have been a number of theoretical debates within the field of second language acquisition(SLA) that have focused on the role of consciousness in second language(L2) development. Such theoretical debates led to a numbe ...
Over the last decade or so, there have been a number of theoretical debates within the field of second language acquisition(SLA) that have focused on the role of consciousness in second language(L2) development. Such theoretical debates led to a number of empirical studies that attempted to study the role of consciousness in learning (Fotos, 1993, 1994; Fotos & Ellis, 1991; Loschky & Bley-Vroman, 1993; Robinson, 1996; Van Patten & Cadierno, 1993). These studies demonstrated that directing learner attention to form and raising their consciousness about specific features of the target language(TL) aided their acquisition.
These findings present a dilemma for many teachers who have become committed to the use of communicative approaches to language learning, wherein learners are given a rich variety of comprehensible input, and teacher-fronted grammar instruction is generally omitted. This study therefore considers two tasks that would lead learners to focus on form without losing sight of the meaning they are trying to convey: grammar-discovery task and dictogloss task.
The results showed that the dictogloss task was effective in enhancing explicit and implicit knowledge to some extent but further analyses showed that the learners have not acquired the target structure yet. The results from the grammar-discovery task group showed that the learners improved their performance in both explicit and implicit knowledge measures. When the two tasks were compared the two task groups generated large differences in gains in learning. Two communicative tasks which aimed at raising the consciousness of learners about problematic grammar features were anticipated to lead learners to a focus on form and produce similar gains in learning of the target structure. However, the grammar-discovery task resulted in significantly higher test scores than the dictogloss task in both explicit and impicit knowledge measures over time. In addition, this study suggested that teachers and researchers may be able to assess the extent to which instruction has contributed to the kind of implicit knowledge by means of oral elicited imitation tests used in the present study. The possibility of using discrete-item tests such as oral elicited imitation tests to measure implicit knowledge that learners have acquired should be of interest to teachers and SLA researchers.
The results were consistent with those of Swain and Lapkin(2001) which did not find any statistically significant difference in the number of language-related episodes(LREs) observed in the dialogue resulting from a dictogloss task and a two-way information gap (jigsaw) task. Nor was there any difference in the task outcomes (the stories the students wrote) or in post-test measurements of the target structures. It is clear that the dictogloss task is an effective means of getting learners to talk about linguistic forms (Kowal & Swain, 1997; Swain, 1998). However, the study showed that there is little evidence to support the claim that dictogloss/text-reconstruction tasks benefit acquisition if the measure of this is performance in post-tests as suggested in Ellis(2003).
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fotos, S. (1993). Consciousness-raising and noticing through focus on form: Grammar task performance versus formal instruction. Applied Linguistics, 14(4), 385-407.
Fotos, S., and Ellis, R. (1991). Communicating about grammar: A task-based approach. TESOL Quarterly, 25, 605-28.
Loschky, L., and Bley-Vroman, R. (1993). Grammar and task-based methodology. In G. Crookes, and S. Gass (eds.), Tasks and language learning: Intergrating theory and practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Robinson, P. (1996). Consciousness, Rules and Instructed Second Language Acquisition. New York: Peter Lang.
Van Patten, B., and Cadierno, T. (1993).
Swain, M., and Lapkin, S. (2001).