A Cognitive and focus-on-form approach to free stabilized interlanguage and avoid putative fossilization
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It cannot be denied that the ultimate aim of L2 teaching/learning is to produce functionally competent performers who are not at a disadvantage, or short, of grammatical equipments. However, undue focus on meaning or communicative skills at the cost of forms or grammatical accuracy results in learners who stop developing at a grammatically inaccurate level of proficiency. Evidence from several immersion studies justifies the motivation for formal instruction, i.e. the inclusion of grammar, an issue that constitutes the cornerstone of the endless debate in L2 teaching methodologies: Should we teach grammar at all? It is our contention that focus-on-form instruction should be adopted as a mediator between extreme practices by teaching grammar forms in situations where the focus is primarily on meaning and communication. The present study suggests a cognitive and focus-on-form approach to free stabilized interlanguage, escape putative fossilization, and boost L2 acquisition. It seeks to investigate the differential effect of different types of instruction, namely focus-on-form, focus-on-meaning and no-instruction. In order for us to determine the role of focus-on-form instruction in the acquisition of English parallel structures, five research questions are put forward, where two are most prominent: 1) Does focus-on-form instruction, both preemptive and reactive, have a differential effect on learners' interlanguage system? 2) Are short-term gains, if at all, maintained in the long-term? These are translated into working hypotheses which are roughly summarized as follows: the focus-on-form instructed subjects and the focus-on-meaning subjects would outperform the uninstructed participants of the control group; secondly, different types of instructional conditions would have differential effects on the short-term learning of parallel structures; thirdly, the focus-on-form group would outperform the focus-on-meaning group in the short-term; and finally, short-term gains would be maintained in the long-term and higher for the focus-on-form group than for the focus-onmeaning group. Seventy eight (78) third-year LMD university English language learners are divided into three groups: a focus-on-form group (N=27), a focus-on-meaning group (N=27), and a control group (N=24). A Grammaticality Judgment Test (GJT) was used to measure accuracy of the target parallel forms over the short- and the long-term; therefore, three similar but not identical tests were administered at three temporal times: a pre-test, an immediate post-test, and a delayed post-test. The results of the present study show that focus-on-form instruction had a differential effect in language learning in both the short- and the long-term. Recommendations for both research and pedagogy are discussed, and a model course of instruction is suggested.
- Doctorat langue Anglaise