Inductive Consciousness-Raising Tasks: Learning the Meaning and Use of the Present Perfect

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  • How to teach grammar within the communicative language classroom has been an issue of concern for many educators ever since it has become apparent that simply providing comprehensible input does not ensure high levels of grammatical accuracy (Harley, Allen, Cummins, & Swain, 1990; Lightbown & Spada, 1994). Second language acquisition (SLA) research provides evidence of the benefits of different types of form-focused instruction (FFI) combined with communicative activities (e.g., Norris & Ortega, 2000; Spada, 1997, 2011). One of the newer techniques for teaching grammar is the consciousness-raising (CR) task (Fotos & Ellis, 1991). Despite their potential, CR tasks are not generally found to be among grammar textbook activities. This quasi-experimental study compared learning gains of those who were exposed to an inductive CR task (n = 10) and those who received a traditional teacher-fronted (TF) lesson (n = 9) in an adult English as a second language (ESL) context. Participants’ ages ranged from 23-69; two of them were men, the other seventeen were women. They came from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds but all had a Canadian Language Benchmark score of 6. Participants were taught the resultative meaning and use of the present perfect tense-aspect form in both treatments. Pre- to post-test gains showed that both groups increased in their grammatical accuracy of the present perfect. The primary implication of this study is that CR tasks should be added to ESL grammar textbooks and to ESL instructors’ repertoires of teaching strategies in order to provide students with a wider range of effective ways to learn grammar.

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    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International