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Focus on form from the inside : the significance of grammatical sensitivity for L2 learning in communicative ESL classrooms

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Focus on form from the inside : the significance of grammatical sensitivity for L2 learning in communicative ESL classrooms

Ranta, Leila (1998) Focus on form from the inside : the significance of grammatical sensitivity for L2 learning in communicative ESL classrooms. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Are analytic learners at an advantage in second language (L2) learning? Early research on aptitude (Carroll, 1962) established the significance of grammatical sensitivity when learners are in structure-based instructional settings. This study addressed the question of whether grammatical sensitivity is associated with L2 learning outcomes when instruction is communicative in nature. The participants were five classes of francophone children studying in an intensive ESL program at the grade 6 level. Learners' grammatical sensitivity was defined as 'the ability to focus on form' and was operationalized as the ability to correct errors in written French (L1). A variety of L2 proficiency measures were administered over the course of one academic year. Three types of analysis were performed on the data: a principal components analysis, a cluster analysis, and an interlanguage analysis. The results of these analyses indicate that grammatical sensitivity is associated with success in L2 learning to some degree since: (1) a 'Grammatical Sensitivity' factor emerged as one of three factors in a principal components analysis; (2) performance on a measure of grammatical sensitivity distinguished strong learners from weak learners; (3) higher levels of grammatical sensitivity were associated with higher stages of grammatical development in oral production. However, it is also clear that grammatical sensitivity is not sufficient to account for differences among weak and strong learners in this population. It is argued that other learner abilities such as working memory capacity and phonemic coding ability may account for the observed patterns of learner performance. Overall, the information-processing model of SLA proposed by Skehan (1998) proved to be a useful framework for the interpretation of the findings of this study.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ranta, Leila
Pagination:xi, 246 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Special Individualized Programme
Date:1998
Thesis Supervisor(s):Lightbown, Patsy M.
ID Code:647
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:13
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:15
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