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Positive effects of form-focused feedback in the form of clarification requests were reported by Takashima , who provided Japanese learners of English as a foreign language EFL with form-focused feedback aiming at leading the learners to modify their output. Results of his experiment support the facilita- tive effects of his output-oriented treatment on the learning of the target grammar, in this case past-tense forms. Fotos , for instance, developed grammar consciousness-raising tasks in which learners must inter- actively solve grammar problems in the target language.

Fotos reported that these tasks successfully promoted negotiated interaction and proficiency gains among Japanese EFL learners. These studies, along with other effect-of-instruction studies, strongly indi- cate that a timely combination of form-focused instruction and communication- oriented instruction is beneficial to L2 learners. And L2 researchers are also required to investigate the effects of combining two or more form-focused instructional techniques.

The Present Study Based on the results of previous focus-on-form studies, the following research question was formulated: Does a communicative task involving both implicit and explicit form-focused instruction help L2 learners develop their interlanguage systems better than a communicative task involving only implicit form-focused instruction or a communicative task involving no form-focused instruction at all? Method Quasi-experimental research was conducted to examine the effects of different focus-on-form treatments on L2 acquisition.

All treatments were administered within the basic framework of a task-based approach, differing mainly in the manner of focus on form. Two classes served as experimental groups and the other as a control group. All three treatments were adminis- tered during weekly minute EFL classes taught by the researcher.


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One pretest and two post-tests were given in order to examine both short- and long- term effects of instruction. Instructional Focus The instructional focus of this study is the English article system, one of the most difficult linguistic forms for L2 learners.

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It was the prediction in this study that instruction focusing on errors with the indefinite article should have a positive effect not only on these errors, but also on errors with the definite article. Effects on the acquisition of more marked features should thus be projected onto the acquisition of more unmarked features, and the instructional treatments used here directly targeted errors with indefinite articles only.

Pretesting Measures The subjects were pretested on their command of English articles using four different tasks: an oral story description OS task, an oral picture description OP task, a written picture description WP task, and a grammaticality judg- ment GJ task.

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In the OS task, the subjects were shown two short silent scenes taken from American movies and asked to describe what was going on in the scenes. In the OP task the subjects were given a four-page test packet with one situation four pictures on each page and asked to describe the situations orally. The subjects were presented with two sets of four pictures depicting several people and animals. They were directed to describe the situations by writing down sentences on an answer sheet. These tasks provided the subjects with contexts in which they had to use appropriate articles to refer to new, current, and known referents.

The subjects were also asked to judge the grammaticality of 16 sentences which contained grammati- cal and ungrammatical uses of articles. In IE, the instructor provides learners with form-focused feedback to guide them to produce and modify output within the basic framework of strategic interaction developed by Di Pietro The strategic interaction approach uses sce- narios to create contexts in which learners are led to use the target language naturally.

For this study, three sets of scenarios were devised by the researcher. Each scenario had Roles A and B. Each strategic interaction session consisted of three phases: 1 a rehearsal phase, 2 a performance phase, and 3 a debriefing phase. The first phase, the rehearsal phase, was identical for the experimental groups and the control group.

The instructor gave each learner a sheet Role A or Role B describing a scenario to be performed, and learners worked in pairs for approximately 10 minutes to prepare for the performance. The scenarios were performed in the class. For each T-S interaction, one student representative was nominated to play a role in interaction with the instructor.

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In each class, a total of 10 different representatives participated in separate strategic interactions over the course of three training sessions. For Experimental Groups 1 and 2 the instructor enhanced interaction in order to guide the learners to produce output and modify it when it was ill- formed. The instructor gave the learners intentionally enhanced interactional modifications such as requests for repetition and corrective recasts, responding to the well-formedness of the output.

The following example illustrates how interaction is enhanced in the modi- fied strategic interaction: Teacher: And any other problem? I saw rat. Then the enhanced input leads them to form a hypothesis or modify the current hypothesis on the article system and produce modified output in order to test the hypothesis e. It should be emphasized here that the instructor enhances both input and output in IE to enable the learner to receive the appropriate amount and quality of input and produce output with optimal timing, both of which are important for L2 acquisition.

Output enhancement and input enhancement, therefore, complement each other in together composing the IE treatment. Unenhanced Interaction The subjects in the control group also participated in strategic interaction. The interaction for this group, however, was not enhanced. Formal Debriefing and Meaning-Focused Debriefing After performing the scenarios, the instructor reviewed student performance in class.

This was the debriefing phase.

Experimental Group 1 received formal debriefing while Experimental Group 2 and the control group were provided with meaning-focused debriefing. The formal debriefing was given based on accuracy of target form use. Explicit grammatical explanation on the use of the indefinite article was provided, emphasizing the classification function of the indefinite article Master, Experimental Group 2 and the control group received meaning-focused debriefing after the performance phase of strategic interaction. Meaning- focused debriefing was based on how successfully the intended communication was carried out.

In Another The most salient improvement was their avoidance of overgeneralization errors with the zero article.

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For instance, only Chi-square tests were performed to determine whether there were significant differences between the frequencies of the overgeneralized zero article in indefinite and definite contexts on the pretest and on the post-test. Overuse of the definite article was also reduced in the IEF group. Only A chi-square test was performed to determine whether there was a significant difference between the frequencies of overgeneralized definite articles on the pretest and those on the post-test for the IEF group.

Though the difference was observable Incorrect use of the indefinite article was not reduced after the treatment This might be because instruction targeting the indefinite article led some of the IEF subjects to overuse i. These results suggest that the IEF treatment had 1 a significant effect on learner restricting of overgeneralized errors with the zero article, 2 an ob- servable effect on learner restricting of overgeneralized errors with the definite article, and 3 no effect on learner restricting of overgeneralized errors with the indefinite article.

Among the IEM group, overgeneralization errors with the zero article were also reduced, as shown in Table 2.

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Chi-square tests were performed to determine if there were statistically significant differences be- tween the frequencies of overgeneralization errors with the zero article on the pretest and on the post-test. These results suggest that the IEM treatment was effective in helping L2 learners correct for overgeneralization of the zero article in indefinite and definite contexts. It must be noted, however, that the IEM group overgeneralized the indefi- nite article in definite contexts more on the post-test than on the pretest Such overgeneralization errors were especially prominent in the oral story description task 5.

This may be because the elicitation task in this case was similar in mode of performance i. Unlike the IEM group, there was no significant increase in the number of overgeneralization errors with the indefinite article among the IEF group This suggests that the explicit grammar explanation the IEF group received helped prevent the learners from overgeneralizing the indefinite article.

This suggests that the control treatment did not trigger qualitative changes in the use of articles. The results suggest that 1 the IEF treatment was effective in helping L2 learners restrict their overgeneralization errors with both the indefinite article and the definite article, 2 the IEM treatment may be effective for helping learners restrict overgeneralization errors with the indefinite article, but the effect of the treat- ment did not extend to restricting overgeneralization with the definite article, and 3 the NEI treatment was not effective for restructuring of the English article system.

DEF These changes triggered by in- struction are summarized in Figure 1. Discussion Results of this study suggest that providing form-focused feedback during an interactive communicative task is effective for guiding L2 learners to modify their interlanguage systems.

Error analyses revealed that L2 learners who received IE treatments, in which a teacher provided learners with form-focused feedback during a communicative task strategic interaction , decreased overgeneralization errors with zero article in indefinite and definite contexts. The positive effects of focus-on-form instruction may be due to the fact that such a treatment makes the connections between forms articles and functions indefiniteness more salient.

This study confirms the claim that formal instruction provided within meaning-oriented instruction is beneficial for L2 learning. This study also reveals that a communicative task involving both implicit and explicit form-focused instruction helps L2 learner develop their interlanguage systems better than a communicative task involving only im- plicit form-focused instruction, or a communicative task involving no form- focused instruction. That is, the data suggest that explicit grammar explana- tion and implicit form-focused instruction work effectively when they are combined. This finding has implications for how L2 teachers conduct grammar instruction.

The finding that explicit grammar instruction has a positive effect on L2 development is also important from a theoretical point of view because whether explicit instruction is beneficial for L2 acquisition has been one of the most heatedly debated issues in L2 research. While Krashen and other re- searchers claim that explicit grammar instruction plays little role in L2 acqui- sition, recent studies have produced results in favor of explicit instruction e. The results of this study suggest that explicit instruction plays a significant role in L2 acquisition when it is given to learners together with a task which strengthens form-function connections.

The finding that focus-on-form instruction involving only implicit form- focused feedback i. The treatment had a positive effect in reducing overuse of the zero article, but had a detrimental effect in reducing overuse of the indefinite ar- ticle. As the IEF group, who received both implicit form-focused feedback and explicit grammar explanation on the English article system, did not signifi- cantly increase their overgeneralization errors, it is likely that the explicit form-focused treatment had some role in nullifying this negative effect.

This is another support for the claim that explicit instruction can play a significant, positive role in L2 acquisition. Another important finding is that the impact of IE treatments targeting the more marked indefinite article was projected onto the acquisition of the less marked definite article, which was not the direct target of the instruction. This suggests that instruction in marked features facilitates the acquisition of unmarked features when these features are implicationally related with each other. Conclusion This study confirms the importance of the integration of form-focused instruc- tion into meaning-oriented instruction.

They also suggest that form- focused instruction provided within the framework of communicative language teaching makes form-function connections more clear to L2 learners and, therefore, facilitates L2 development. In short, the data obtained in this study clearly indicate that guiding learners to focus on form within communication- focused instruction is possible and definitely profitable.