Second language learners are often able to understand more than they can
produce. This gives rise to questions about the overlap between
comprehension and production, and about the processes of acquisition. For
instance, can comprehension training pre-empt errors in production? Several
researchers have suggested that grammar learning takes place by first
acquiring knowledge of a grammatical structure and subsequently fine-tuning
this knowledge and the processes related to it.
Two experiments were conducted. A pilot experiment was designed to
investigate whether knowledge that is practised in comprehension tasks can
pre-empt errors in production, and to evaluate what amount of training is
sufficient in this respect. A main experiment was conducted in order to
assess whether receptive training could improve performance in
comprehension and pre-empt errors in production, and to test whether the
early introduction of production tasks would influence acquisition.
This study shows that it is possible for second language learners to induce
some grammar knowledge in an aural comprehension training. Although this
training led to increased processing speed in comprehension, it did not
pre-empt a substantial number of errors in production. An early start of
production training did not severely hinder acquisition. Further research
needs to assess exactly how training can contribute to knowledge and
processing, in comprehension as well as production.
The present study extends research findings of training effects to the
aural modality, that is, to listening and speaking. Methodologically, it
aimed to enlarge the range of tests for second language research. Results
from this study may also have important implications for the practice of
second language teaching.