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Experimenting with Grammar Tasks for Young Learners IATEFL CARDIFF 2009. Danae S. Tsapikidou PhD student in Second Language Acquisition, University of Cambridge email:firstname.lastname@example.org. I will present…. An experimental study on Form-Focused Instruction (FFI) in the primary classroom
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Experimenting with Grammar Tasks for Young Learners IATEFL CARDIFF 2009 Danae S. Tsapikidou PhD student in Second Language Acquisition, University of Cambridge email:email@example.com
I will present…. An experimental study on Form-Focused Instruction (FFI) in the primary classroom This study is an MPhil thesis supervised by Prof. Neil Mercer
I will outline…. • The theory behind the study • The methodology • The results • The factors explaining the results • Summary/Conclusion
Form-Focused Instruction… • Accelerates the natural stages of acquisition • Correlates with proficiency gains • Enhances capacity for complexity • Prevents interlanguage stabilisation • Pushes towards target-like accuracy
Research Questions • Do young learners benefit from FFI in the context of a story-film? • Is explicit FFI better than implicit FFI? • Do under-achievers benefit equally from FFI?
Nick Ellis definition (1994) • Explicit FFI: Conscious searching, building then testing of hypotheses; assimilating a rule following explicit instruction • Implicit FFI: Non-conscious and automatic abstraction of the structural nature of the material arrived at from experience of instances
Research design • An experiment with pre-post-delayed tests • 83 learners in 4 primary EFL classes in their 5th and 6th year • The Simple Past (formation/usage) • 6 hours per class • April 2008, Thessaloniki, Greece
Experiment • Intact classes in alphabetical order • Group comparability set by pre-test means comparison with one-way ANOVA (p=0,202) • Random assignment to treatments • Target tense was known
Methods of Data Collection • Grammaticality judgement test (GJT) eg. Ted was sad because he didn’t find the exhibit George sawed a yellow hat . • Multiple Choice Test (MC) eg. The curious little monkey _____________ happy to play. a. were b. was c. did • Written Production Test (WP) eg This is George. George _was_ (be) a good little monkey and always very curious. • Transcripts of audio-recorded oral communication tasks
Presentation of rules Explicit focus on accuracy Controlled practice Oral and written production tasks Meaning-based communicative drills Metalinguistic feedback Questions/Answers in S.Past, Cloze test Fill-in the blanks Open cloze test Correct verb recognition Find the mistake Jumbled sentences Identify S. Past forms Explicit Treatment
Explicit Practice…. • Did Curious George live in the city? • [No, he didn’t. He lived in the jungle]
Simple past cloze This is George. George _was_ (be) a good little monkey and always very curious. George was looking for someone to play with. He (1). __________ (wonder) what would happen if he put a crocodile egg in a bird’s nest.
Oral Data-Explicit Group • Teacher: What did they play? • Students: peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo!!!!! • Teacher: and the verb? • Student 1: He played peek-a-boo • Students: jumped, jumped • Teacher: Did he….. • Student 2: catch the rope! • Teacher: in simple past? • Student 2: caught..caught!. • Student 3: …he caught the rope
Interaction in pairs Focus on task completion Use of target feature essential for task Production tasks Real purpose of communication Opportunity to notice the gap between TL and the learner’s IL Story comparison Role-play Listening cloze test, Writing Stage directions task Picture description/ordering Picture/sentence matching Text reconstruction Implicit Treatment
Implicit Practice… • George found a giant banana…but it was a yellow hat • George and Ted played peek-a-boo together
Joint Writing Task Ted: Clovis, I've got a problem. (Ted looked at Clovis, worried) Clovis: Wait, just a minute. Are you returning him? What? Because I have a strict no-return policy... on any robotic animals I create, unless, of course, you have a receipt. (___________________________________)
Came from Serbia He was Ted’s apartment manager He did not allow pets in the apartment. He found Curious George and kicked Ted out of his apartment. Name: Came from: His job was: What did he do? What happened in the end? Student A: Ivan
Came from the USA. He was the museum inventor. He invented the magnificator. He helped Ted magnify the tiny idol and solve his problem. Name: Came from: His job was: What did he do? What happened in the end? Student B: Clovis
Oral Data-Implicit Group • Learner 1: Eeeerr ….where did he come from? • Learner 2: Eerhh …. he come from Serbia • Learner 1: Where did he come from? • Learner 2: Eeerrr …Came from the USA
Summary of results • Significant pre-post test improvement in both Explicit and Implicit groups • Gains in both groups significantly remained in delayed post test 2 weeks later • No significant difference in improvement between Explicit and Implicit treatments • No significant difference between 5th and 6th year groups
5th year results • 20% improvement rate from pre to post test in both groups, fully retained in the delayed post test 2 weeks later
6th year results • 22% and 28% pre-post test improvement rate, largely retained in the delayed post test
5th year ability comparison • Learners who scored below the group mean demonstrated 44% rate of improvement from pre to post test, largely maintained in delayed post test
6th year ability comparison • Learners who scored below the group mean demonstrated 74 % rate of improvement from pre to post test, lost by just 20% in delayed post test
Qualitative Data • 75 audio-recorded pair exchanges • 417 out of 482 utterances were grammatically correct • Task preparation time + teacher feedback was given before acting out • Learners may have monitored their oral performance for the audio-recording
Discussion • Explicit and Implicit FonF are equally beneficial for young learners • Story familiar context provides facilitation • Learner motivation • Task preparation, build-on model and presentation (audio-recorded) of interaction tasks led to monitoring, restructuring, pushed output
Support for Output Hypothesis • Output practice that leads learners to notice gaps in their IL systems, test their existing knowledge, reflect consciously on their own language, and process language syntactically is expected to be the most beneficial for L2 development (Swain, 2005)
Limitations • Lack of oral assessment data • Role of prior knowledge • Insufficient test piloting • Meaningful context of the story was common for both treatments – hence all learners could make form-function-meaning connections
Conclusion • Explicit and Implicit Form-Focused Instruction are both equally beneficial and complement each-other • Ideal for remedial teaching or recycling of known structures • Frequency and salience of target structures through the story facilitate conversion of input to intake
References • DeKeyser, R. (Ed.). (2007). Practicing in a second language: Perspectives from applied linguistics and cognitive psychology: Cambridge University Press. • Swain, M. (2005). The output hypothesis: Theory and research. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook on research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 471-484). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. • Ellis, R. (2001). Form-focused instruction and second language learning. Malden, MA ; Oxford: Blackwell. • Doughty, C., & Williams, J. (1998). Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.