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SLA: Activities for Meaningful Interaction. LING 561/761 09/13/2006. Computer-Mediated Language Learning Contexts (1).

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computer mediated language learning contexts 1
Computer-Mediated Language Learning Contexts (1)

Research focusing directly on computer-assisted language learning has remained largely on the margins of SLA research (Chapelle, 2004; Hulstijn, 2000) as it has struggled to contextualize itself within a larger theoretical framework of SLA (Chapelle, 1998, 2001; Doughty & Long 2003; Salaberry, 2000).

computer mediated language learning contexts 2
Computer-Mediated Language Learning Contexts (2)
  • Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)
  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
  • Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning


      • Interaction occurs in a written modality.
      • Discourse proceeds at a slower pace than in oral


      • More time for preparing/repairing utterances.
      • Turn-taking sequences/allocation of turns are unique and

vary according to the specific medium.

what are the challenges 1
What are the challenges? (1)
  • For SLA Research
    • Comparability to traditional SLA research paradigms.
      • Can computer-centered language learning be task-based?
      • Can attested results from oral interaction be brought to bear on human-computer interaction?
    • Modality
      • How do we account for the role of modality in this type of SLA research?
        • Visual, text-based, written
        • No prosodic or paralinguistic cues
        • More time for online processing/planning
        • Few to no socio-cultural constraints
what are the challenges 2
What are the challenges? (2)
  • For Language Pedagogy
    • Traditional classrooms
      • How are computer-centered tasks actually used in traditional language classes?
      • How might they more effectively complement traditional teaching?
      • What are the technical limitations? Can they be overcome?
    • Distance education
      • Same as above.
sla claims in call research 1
SLA Claims in CALL Research (1)

"Because oral interaction is considered by many to be important for second language development, and because synchronous [CMC] bears a striking resemblance to oral communication, it seems logical to assume that language practice through CMC will reap some of the same benefits for second language development as practice through oral interaction."

Pelletieri (2000, p. 59)

sla claims in call research 2
SLA Claims in CALL Research (2)

“The findings suggest that computer mediated communication (CMC) can provide many of the alleged benefits ascribed to the Interaction Hypothesis, but with greatly increased possibilities for access outside of the classroom environment.”

Blake (2000, p. 120)

"Networked exchanges, since they are text-based and learners must type out or produce the structures in question, appear to constitute an example of forced output ."

Blake (2000, p. 132)

feedback in cmc research 1
Feedback in CMC Research (1)

Claims from CMC research include:

  • Computer-mediated peer feedback is neither superior nor inferior to orally provided peer editing feedback in promoting second language writing development (Schultz, 2000).
  • Learners negotiate for meaning, provide feedback and modify their output when engaged in CMC tasks, especially in response to lexical and structural difficulties (Tudini, 2003).
feedback in cmc research 2
Feedback in CMC Research (2)

Claims from CMC research (cont.):

  • "Because CMC fosters negotiation of meaning and form-focused interaction and because students communicating through this medium have more time to process and monitor the interlanguage, I believe that CMC can play a significant role in the development of grammatical competence." (Pelletieri, 2000, p. 83)
feedback in icall research 1
Feedback in ICALL Research (1)
  • Learners engage with computer programs that incorporate natural language processing (NLP) tools, such as syntactic parsers.
  • NLP tools allow for “online processing of responses and [the provision of] feedback that is tailored to the students’ needs and highly informative about the nature of their errors” (Nagata & Swisher, 1995).
  • Tasks are highly artificial and bear little resemblance to naturally occurring oral interaction.
feedback in icall research 2
Feedback in ICALL Research (2)

Claims from ICALL research include:

  • Metalinguistic feedback in ICALL systems promotes L2 grammatical development which is superior to (1) traditional (pre-scripted) computer feedback (Nagata, 1993; Nagata & Swisher, 1995;) and (2) translation feedback (Nagata, 1997).
  • Metalinguistic feedback that highlights the error in the student input (i.e. input enhancement) is more effective at eliciting learner uptake than recasts + input enhancement (Heift, 2004).
  • Recasts convey needed information about the target language in context, when the interlocutors share a joint attentional focus, and when the learner already has prior comprehension of at least part of the message, thereby facilitating form-function mapping. (Long, in press, p.46)
  • The efficacy of recasts for promoting language development also lies in the immediate juxtaposition of the learner’s error and the correct reformulation provided by the more advanced speaker (Farrar, 1990; Long, 1996; Saxton, 1997, 2005).
recasts 2
Recasts (2)

It is claimed that this juxtaposition of learner error and subsequent reformulation:

1. Enhances the salience of the corrected linguistic form in the feedback (Ishida, 2004; Saxton, 1997)

2. Provides an opportunity for learners to make a cognitive comparison between the targetlike model in the recast and their own nontargetlike production, thus promoting restructuring of their interlanguage representation of the form (Long & Robinson, 1998; Mackey & Philp, 1998; Oliver, 1995; Philp, 2003).

recasts 3
Recasts (3)
  • These claims about the efficacy of recasts assume that the learner recognizes that the recasts are intended as corrective feedback.
  • Although, it has been argued that:
    • Recasts are often not perceived as corrective
    • feedback in some contexts (Lyster, 1998a; Lyster,
    • 1998b; Lyster, 2004; Lyster & Ranta, 1997).
    • The implicit negative feedback contained in recasts
    • may not be as crucial to L2 development as the
    • enhanced salience of the positive evidence they
    • provide (Leeman, 2003).
recasts salience 1
Recasts: Salience (1)
  • According to Schmidt’s (Schmidt, 1990, 1995, 2001; Schmidt & Frota, 1986) “noticing hypothesis”, in order to become potential candidates for intake and subsequent learning, formal linguistic features in the input must first be noticed by the learner (Schmidt, 1995, p. 20).
  • When a learner's incorrect utterance and subsequent recast convey the same meaning and differ only in the use of a particular linguistic form, that form is said to be made perceptually more salient to the learner (Farrar, 1990; Long, in press)
recasts salience 2
Recasts: Salience (2)

Yet, the extent to which the increased salience of a linguistic form may be a function of a recast is constrained by a broad range of factors, such as:

  • The learners' developmental readiness vis-à-vis the corrected form (Han, 2002; Iwashita, 2003; Mackey & Philp, 1998; Philp, 2003)
  • The length of the recast provided (Philp, 2003; Sheen, 2004)
  • The number of corrections made in the reformulation (Bohannon & Stanowicz, 1988; Farrar, 1992; Philp, 2003)
  • The length of the negotiation sequence in which it occurs (Ellis, Basturkmen and Loewen, 2001)
  • The degree of elaboration with which it is delivered (Doughty & Varela, 1998)
recasts pedagogical context 1
Recasts: Pedagogical Context (1)
  • The salience and ambiguity of recasts are, to some extent, dependent upon the pedagogical context in which they appear (Nabei & Swain, 2002; Nicholas, Lightbown & Spada, 2001; Oliver, 1995; Sheen, 2004).
  • In communicative, immersion language classrooms, where the instructional focus is primarily on meaningful language production, recasts and repetitions are often difficult for learners to disambiguate (Lyster, 1998a; Lyster, 1998b, Lyster, 2004; Lyster & Ranta, 1997)
recasts pedagogical context 2
Recasts: Pedagogical Context (2)
  • In more form-focused classroom environments (e.g. Ellis, Basturkmen & Loewen, 2001; Ohta, 2000; Sheen, 2004) and especially in dyadic laboratory contexts (e.g. Han, 2002; Iwashita, 2003; Long, Inagaki, and Ortega, 1998; Mackey & Philp, 1998; Philp, 2003) recasts may be more likely to be noticed as corrective feedback.
  • One largely unexplored pedagogical context for recasts is in the emergent environment of interactive, computer-centered written discourse.
recasts pedagogical context 3
Recasts: Pedagogical Context (3)

As Long (2006) notes, there is a need for further research in this area because:

(1) the written modality is a robust environment for manipulating the degrees of saliency of target items and

(2) findings from this line of research may have important pedagogical implications for teachers and materials developers in distance language instruction programs.

recasts pedagogical context 4
Recasts: Pedagogical Context (4)
  • Ayoun (2001) is the only published study to date to explore the effects of recasts on L2 development in the written modality.
  • Ayoun found that written recasts produced statistically significantly greater gain scores, compared to explicit grammatical instruction, in the aspectual distinction of distinction the French passe compose and imparfait.
  • Relative to written models, exposure to written recasts produced greater, though not significant gains
recasts pedagogical context 5
Recasts: Pedagogical Context (5)
  • Ayoun's findings, however, are difficult to compare to findings on oral recasts for several reasons:

1. Output was highly constrained and artificial.

2. Recasts were provided regardless of the presence of

errors in the learners’ utterances.

3. No empirical claims were made about how the written

modality may have impacted the effectiveness of recasts.


This study will explore:

  • The effects of interactional mode (written vs. oral) on the efficacy of recasts in promoting both short and long-term developmental gains in ESL question formation.
  • The extent to whichinteractional context might influence learners' perceptions about the recasts provided in response to their errors.
methodology overview
Methodology: Overview

This study will employ a pre-test/post-test/delayed post-test design with a series of experimental treatment tasks designed to isolate the context of interactional mode (oral interaction vs. computer-generated interaction) as the primary independent variable.


Participants for this study will be recruited from the English as a Foreign Language Intensive Program at Georgetown University. All participants will be offered monetary compensation, and will be paid for each session that they attend.

experimental groups
Experimental Groups

1. Oral Interaction Recast: Participants in this group will participate in dyadic, communicative tasks with a native speaker and receive intensive recasts in response to their errors related to question formation.

2. Computer Guided Interaction Recast: Participants in this group will participate in communicative tasks on a computer and receive intensive recasts generated by the software in response to their errors related to question formation.

3. Control: Participants in this group will only take the pre and post-tests.

target form
Target Form
  • ESL question formation
      • Well attested in SLA research (e.g. Adams, 2004; MacDonough, 2005; Mackey, 1999; Mackey & Philp,1999; Pienemann, 1998; Pienemann & Johnston, 1987; Pienemann, Johnston & Brindley,1988; Philp, 2003; Silver, 2000; Spada & Lightbown, 1993,1999; White, Spada, Lightbown & Ranta, 1991)
      • Well suited to focused feedback generated by NLP tools.
operationalizing recasts 1
Operationalizing Recasts (1)
  • Only errors related to question formation will be corrected (targeting Stage 3->4 and Stage 4->5 development).
  • Lexical, phonological/typographic, false starts, hesitations and all other errors in the learners' speech and writing will not be subject to corrective feedback.
  • No additional emphasis will be placed on the source of the error in either written or oral modes.
  • Recasts will reformulate ill-formed utterances in their entirety (no partial or segmented recasts will be provided).
operationalizing recasts 2
Operationalizing Recasts (2)
  • Following Long et al. (1998) and Leeman (2003), no opportunity for modified output will be provided in either mode. In both the oral and computer guided interaction conditions, recasts will be followed by a prompt to continue.
      • The decision to not allow for any uptake or repair is motivated primarily by the desire to control and isolate the effect of recasts from those of modified output.
      • L2 development and learners' perceptions of recasts will be measured by gains from pre-test to post-test performance and reported noticing in stimulated recall protocols.
treatment assessment tasks 1
Treatment/Assessment Tasks (1)
  • Tasks will be counter-balanced and will include numerous contexts for Stage 4 and Stage 5 questions to occur.
  • Assessment tasks will be administered in both oral and written modes to all groups.
  • Following the recommendation of Schneiderman (1992), the computer-guided tasks will be created in an anthropomorphic context to engage the learner in oral-like interaction.
  • A virtual interlocutor will introduce each task, allocate turns and provide recasts in response to errors.
treatment assessment tasks 2
Treatment/Assessment Tasks (2)

The oral and written tasks will include:

  • Spot the difference
  • Picture sequencing
  • Picture Matching