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Communicative language teaching and form-focused instruction. Nina Spada University of Toronto. Different versions of CLT. Strong version : Exclusive focus on meaning; no attention to form Weak version : Attention to form and meaning Howatt , 1984.

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different versions of clt
Different versions of CLT
  • Strong version: Exclusive focus on meaning; no attention to form
  • Weak version: Attention to form and meaning

Howatt, 1984

strong version of clt has led to many myths misconceptions
Strong version of CLT has led to many myths & misconceptions

CLT means an exclusive focus on meaning

CLT means no explicit feedback on error

CLT means learner-centred teaching

CLT means listening and speaking practice

CLT means avoidance of the learner’s L1

why such a strong reaction against traditional methods of l2 teaching
Why such a strong reaction against traditional methods of L2 teaching?
  • Pedagogic concerns
    • Grammar translation useful for the study of grammar and vocabulary but not speaking and listening
    • Fatigue and frustration on the part of teachers and learners with the limitations of dialogue memorization and pattern practice drills of the audiolingual method.
research on the effects of traditional approaches on l2 learning
Research on the effects of traditional approacheson L2 learning ….
  • develop grammatical knowledge
  • not successful in “using” that knowledge
  • develop reading comprehension ability
  • struggle with listening comprehension
  • not able to use language communicatively
  • not able to use language accurately
theoretical influences of clt
Theoretical influences of CLT
  • Communicative competence (Hymes, 1972)
  • Comprehensible input hypothesis (Krashen, 1984)
  • Interaction hypothesis (Long, 1983, 1996)
communicative competence
Communicative competence
  • Knowledge of language consists of more than a knowledge of the rules of grammar but also knowledge of the rules of language use
  • Functional linguistics (Halliday,1973)
  • Notional/functional syllabus design
comprehensible input hypothesis
Comprehensible Input Hypothesis
  • Similarities between the process of learning a first and second language
  • Yet, major differences in outcomes particularly with L2 classroom learners
  • Create conditions for learning a second language that are similar to those of first language acquisition
comprehensible input hypothesis1
Comprehensible Input Hypothesis
  • Expose learners to meaningful and motivating input that is
    • just slightly beyond their current level of linguistic competence but …
    • comprehensible enough for the learners to understand
  • L2 learners should be able to;
    • integrate the new input into their developing language systems and create a grammar
interaction hypothesis
Interaction Hypothesis
  • L2 learners do not need to learn grammar in order to participate in conversations.

RATHER

  • L2 learners, like L1 learners, need to participate in conversations to learn grammar. (Hatch, 1978)
research on clt strong version
Research on CLT (Strong version)
  • Content-based programs
    • e.g. French immersion programs in Canada, bilingual programs in the US
  • CLT programs with children and adults
  • Task-based language teaching
  • Comprehension-based programs with children and adults
research findings strong version of clt
Research findings: Strong version of CLT
  • Learners develop comprehension skills, vocabulary knowledge, communicative ability and communicative confidence

However…

  • They continue to experience difficulties with grammatical accuracy in their oral and written production
form focused instruction ffi
Form-focused instruction (FFI)
  • Any effort to draw learners’ attention to form within communicative and meaning-based contexts (Spada, 1997)
  • Explicit or implicit
  • Direct instruction or corrective feedback
results of ffi research
Results of FFI research
  • Many studies in CLT & content-based classrooms
  • Instruction that is meaning-based and includes attention to form is more effective than instruction which:
    • focuses exclusively on meaning

OR

    • focuses exclusively on form (Spada, 2010; Lightbown & Spada, 2013)
focus on form and communication
Focus on form and communication

Greater focus on one?

Equal focus on both?

other questions of interest to teachers and researchers
Other questions of interest to teachers and researchers
  • Are there better ways to draw learners attention to form?
  • Do learners develop different types of L2 ability depending on the way in which their attention is drawn to form?
are there better ways to draw learners attention to language form
Are there better ways to draw learners attention to language form?
  • TYPE of form-focused instruction
    • Explicit versus Implicit
  • TIMING of form-focused instruction
    • Integrated or Isolated
research findings explicit versus implicit ffi
Research findings: Explicit versus Implicit FFI

Explicit attention to form is more effective than implicit attention to form (Norris & Ortega, 2000; Spada & Tomita, 2010)

BUT… that depends on what type of L2 knowledge is measured in the studies.

are there better times to provide ffi
Are there better times to provide FFI?

Are there better times in the instructional sequence to draw learners’ attention to form?

Before or after communicative practice?

During communicative practice?

timing of ffi
Timing of FFI
  • Integrated: Attention to form always embedded in communicative practice
  • Isolated: Attention to form always separate from communicative practice

Spada & Lightbown, 2008

arguments for isolated ffi
Arguments for Isolated FFI?
  • Traditional presentation, practice, pedagogy
  • Traditional presentation, practice, pedagogy
    • A natural way to teach
  • Humans are limited capacity processors
    • You can’t pay attention to everything at once
  • Motivation
    • No interruption of communicative interaction
arguments for integrated ffi
Arguments for Integrated FFI

Efficiency: Two for One

Students have an opportunity to communicate and receive feedback at the same time

Motivation

Immediate help is available precisely when it is needed

transfer appropriate processing
Transfer Appropriate Processing
  • When we learn something, our memories record not only the item learned but the cognitive and perceptual processes that were engaged while learning the item.
  • Subsequently, when we try to remember the item learned, we also recall aspects of the learning process

Blaxton, 1989; Morris et al, 1977

transfer appropriate processing1
Transfer Appropriate Processing

Therefore…. the greater the similarity between how we learned something and our later efforts to retrieve that knowledge, the greater chances of success

type of instruction l2 knowledge
Type of instruction & L2 knowledge

Isolated FFI

Integrated FFI

the study
The Study
  • 109 adult ESL learners in four classes
    • 2 Isolated FFI; 2 integrated FFI
  • 2 teachers
    • 1 taught Isolated FFI and 1 taught the Integrated FFI classes
  • Target feature: “be-passive”

Many cars were stolen last year.

The file was deleted from the computer.

instruction
Instruction
  • 12 hours
  • Same amount of time on form and meaning-based practice
  • Form activities:
    • Attention to form only
  • Meaning activities:
    • Attention to meaning only
  • 12 hours
  • Same amount of time on form and meaning-based practice
  • All activities:
    • Attention to meaning first then attention to form woven into the meaning-based activities

Integrated FFI

Isolated FFI

language measures
Language Measures
  • Error Correction Task

Laws are making by the government.

made

Laws are making by the government.

  • Oral Production Task

The package was sent to the wrong address.

It was returned to the post office.

results
Results
  • Both groups significantly improved over time on the passive form:
    • Error correction task
    • Oral production task

Interpretation: As long as learners receive a combination of form and meaning-based practice, differences in the timing of attention to form may be less important

results1
Results
  • Learners in the Isolated FFI classes performed better on the ECT
  • Learners in the Integrated FFI classes performed better on the OPT
criteria for selecting isolated or integrated ffi for l2 instruction
Criteria for selecting Isolated or Integrated FFI for L2 instruction

Learners’ level of proficiency

e.g. difficult for low proficient learners to focus on form and meaning at the same time. Thus, Isolated FFI might be best for this group of learners.

Type of language feature

e.g. some language forms are easier to elicit in communicative activities than others. This might be a good reason for selecting those features for Integrated FFI.

criteria for selecting isolated or integrated ffi for l2 instruction1
Criteria for selecting Isolated or Integrated FFI for L2 instruction

L1 background of learners

e.g. L2 structures that learners experience difficulty with because of L1 influence may be more salient (i.e. noticeable) if they are provided via Isolated FFI.

Learner preferences for instruction

e.g. Some learners may have a preference to focus their attention on form either separately from or embedded within communicative practice.

conclusion
Conclusion
  • L2 instruction that focuses primarily on meaning but not to the exclusion of attention to form is most effective for L2 learning
    • How attention to form is best provided?
    • When attention to form is best provided?
    • How do specific language features and learner characteristics interact with how and when attention to form is best provided?
references
References
  • Spada, N. (2011). Beyond form-focused instruction: Reflections on past, present and future research. Language Teaching. 44, 225-236.
  • Spada, N. (2006). Communicative language teaching: Current status and future prospects. In J. Cummins & C. Davis (Eds.), Kluwer handbook of English language teaching. Amsterdam: Kluwer Publications.
  • Spada, N. (1997). Form-focussed instruction and second language acquisition: A review of classroom and laboratory research. [State of the Art Article] Language Teaching, 30(2) 73-87.
  • Spada, N., & Tomita, Y. (2010). Interactions between type of instruction and type of language feature: A meta-analysis. Language Learning, 60(2), 1-46.
  • Spada, N. & Lightbown, P.M. (2008). Form-focused instruction: Isolated or Integrated? TESOL Quarterly, 42, 181-207.
  • Spada, N., Jessop, L., Suzuki, W., Tomita, Y. & Valeo (in press). Isolated and integrated form-focused instruction: Effects on different types of L2 knowledge. To appear in Language Teaching Research.