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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Task, Mode and the Effects of Input-based Explicit Instruction Add Dissertation
Author: Ronald Leow Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Deparment of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Completed in: 1994
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics;
Director(s): Bill VanPatten

Abstract: Ten years have gone by since Long published his article entitled 'Does instruction make a difference?' (1983). Since then, a number of studies have been published that provide evidence in favor of the positive effects of instruction and the limitations of those effects on different aspects of SLA. Experimental research has mainly concentrated on what to teach. However, psycholinguistic-based studies such as VanPatten (1991) and VanPatten and Cadierno (1993) represent an attempt to answer the question on how instruction can make a difference in L2 knowledge. The experimental study presented here seeks to investigate where the difference is made, more specifically, what kind of knowledge is gained and how this knowledge can be put to use.

In this experiment, 44 native speakers of English learning Spanish in a formal context where tested with the help of multiple assessment tasks. The tasks differ in the amount of production they required, and consist of a sentence completion, a structured interview and a video retelling. All tasks were performed in the written and the oral modes. The type of instruction investigated, Processing Instruction (VanPatten 1991) had as its goal the manipulation of a well known strategy (first-noun strategy) used by learners when processing input. The data were scored for use of pre-verbal object pronouns in Spanish and were submitted to different 2-way ANOVAs with repeated measures on the following variables: instructional effects (pre-test vs. post-test), mode (written vs. oral), and elicitation task (sentence completion vs. question-answer vs. video clip narration).

The results show a positive effect for instruction across all three task types and differential effects according to the elicitation technique and the mode of production, which are explained based on the differences in processing demands made on the subject; i.e., production of long chunks of speech requires automatic access to knowledge, while completing a sentence in the written mode can be done using controlled access to knowledge.

The outcome of this study has theoretical, methodological and pedagogical implications. From a theoretical point of view, the present study contributes to the discussion of the role of explicit instruction in second language acquisition, its impact in the L2 knowledge and the availability of that knowledge. From a methodological point of view, this study shows the need for multiple assessment of the impact of instruction and for designing the tasks along criteria established a priori. Specifically, amount of information and mode of production as criteria revealed to be effective as one way of manipulating processing demands. From a pedagogical point of view, results from the study reveal the positive effect of instruction that aims at manipulating the learner's attention on form.