Attending to grammar in a second language: Evidence from classroom experiments and priming techniques. Emma Marsden University of York [email protected] Overview. Input processing in L2 learning In the L2 classroom: Processing Instruction
VanPatten suggests learners:
process content words in the input before anything else e.g. Il a mangé au restaurant
(The Primacy of Content Words Principle)
will tend to rely on lexical items as opposed to grammatical form to get meaning when both encode the same semantic information. e.g. Hier,ila mangé au restaurant
(The Lexical Preference Principle)
(sing+1st pl. and dance+1st pl.)
2) Nous b) étudie l’anglais
(We) (study+sing. English)
1) Explicit information (1 minute basic explanation; NOT used in this study)
When we talk about something that happened in the past, we add ‘ed’ to the end of the verb
Remember to notice that; not words like “yesterday”.
2) Referential activities
When did this happen?
No other cues given
3) Affective activities
Do you think your teacher is telling the truth?
Some of Delia’s diary entries have got smudged. Decide whether Delia has written about an event that happened in her previous summer holidays or if she is referring to something she usually does in the summer holidays.
1. I learn Spanish.
a. last summer b. usually does
2. My family visited Paris.
a. last summer b. usually does
3. I play tennis with my friends.
a. last summer b. usually does
Delia has written a diary entry about her family’s last summer holidays. What do you think about her activities?
1. My family visited Paris.
a. interesting b. boring
2. I learned Japanese.
a. interesting b. boring
3. My family painted the wall.
a. interesting b. boring
The cause of PI‘s effectiveness is the Structured Input Activities = referential + affective activities
i.e. explicit information provided does not seem to affect results.
Problem 1: Studies so far have treated referential and affective activities as ONE (“structured input”)
BUT they are very different
Claimed: affective activities “reinforce form-meaning connections” made during referential activities (VanPatten 1996,2004, Wong 2004, p.44)
(not presented today…)
“Even though learners in [the PI] group were never given the rules, they were constantly given yes/no feedback, which must have led them to figure out the system” (DeKeyser et al. 2002 p. 813).
2. Does any learning observed tend to have characteristics of explicit or implicit knowledge at test?
Control group chosen at random;
Four classes from same school.
‘Explicit knowledge’ = accessed when no time constraint, no/little communicative pressure
‘Implicit knowledge’ = time pressure and/or communicative pressure
a) picture-based narration
b) semi-structured conversation
Problem 1: Affective activities, alone, or with Ref activities, did not help learning “-ed”.
Problem 2: Learning gains tended to show characteristics of explicit knowledge
Self-report (a conservative estimate)
“To investigate whether morphological knowledge is automatically activated in spontaneous communication, one needs a research method that allows us to examine L2 learners’ performance under a condition in which their use of explicit, nonautomatic knowledge is minimized.” Jiang (2004: 608).
“measures such as those adopted in implicit memory studies … may be more sensitive measures than those requiring on- or off-line production and verbalisation of the contents of awareness” Robinson (2003: 639).
“finely grained cognitive and perceptual measures” Segalowitz (2006: 137)
Reviews: McDonough & Trofimovich (2009), Marsden (2009)
(Church & Schacter 1994; Church & Fisher 1998)
RQ: Can we observe priming of French verb inflections amongst beginner L2 learners?
a) are such priming effects influenced by whether learners are oriented to the form or sentence meaning?
b) are such priming effects observed both in reaction times and the nature of the responses?
Priming effects after ‘focus on form’,
no priming after ‘focus on sentence meaning’
Remember, in French we use ‘ons’ at the end of the verb if the speaker is talking about something they do with other people.
(Daneman & Carpenter 1980; Walters, 2004)
Do these sentences make sense or are they a bit weird? Press ‘normal’ or ‘odd’.
30 ‘ons’ inflections
Focus on semantics of verb + complement
Activation of representation of the subject and the inflection would be incidental to task
Hypothesis: Focus on Form participants faster and prefer ‘-ons’ compared to unheard inflections
Focus on Sentence Meaning participants no difference between ‘–ons’ and unheard inflections
Could be that less activation of inflection in FSM because of overt subject
(Carroll 2001; VanPatten 2004; Ellis 2002; Robinson 1995; Schmidt 1990 & 2001)
(Bates & Goodman 1997, Thordardottir et al. 2002)
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Focus on Sentence Meaning: “nous mangions la table”: weird?
versus Focus on Form: “mangions la table”: speaker + others?