Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 1, No. 11, pp. 1549-1560, November 2011 © 2011 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland.
The Effect of Output Tasks on the Acquisition of
English Verbal Morphemes
University of Mazandaran, Iran
University of Mazandaran, Iran
Abstract—This paper aims to explore the facilitative effect of an output task on learning verbal morphemes by Iranian EFL learners. The main research question addressed whether engaging learners in output tasks can fill the gap between comprehension and production of verbal morphemes (present progressive–ing and simple past–ed) and promote learning of the target linguistic forms. Two groups of learners from young adult classes (all male students within the age range of 13-15) participated in the current study: an output group consisting of 20 learners and a control group consisting of 18 learners. All of them were administered a pretest and posttest. The learners in the output group worked on a text reconstruction task which employed an audio-text cartoon strip. The major findings were (a) the comparison of pre-test scores showed a significant difference between comprehension and production of target forms by the learners, (b) after receiving treatment, the output group outperformed the control group, (c) finally, the control group failed to show comparable improvement in their production although they had measurable gains in comprehending the target linguistic form. Considering the above findings, further support was found for the effect of output tasks on L2 learning. The findings contribute to the research that has examined type of task and level of processing in promoting L2 learning.
Index Terms—output tasks, verbal morphemes, reconstruction task
Finding the most efficient way to teach grammar has been one of the most controversial issues in SLA over the past few decades (Celce-Murcia, 1991; Ellis, 2006). In search for the best way to teach grammar, the roles of input and output have received substantial attention in second language acquisition (SLA) theory and numerous studies have produced major insights in the field of SLA. Earlier studies gave the idea that acquisition is a natural outcome of comprehensible input (Krashen, 1985). Such studies have chiefly focused on the significance of comprehensible input in developing learners‟ knowledge of the target language. Lately, however, several studies have suggested that the role of output is as important (if not more) for acquisition of a second language as the role of input. These studies‟ claim is mainly based on Swain‟s output hypothesis (Swain, 1985) which considers output as the cause of L2 acquisition, not just the product of it. Studies on output (e.g. Dekeyser & Sokalski, 1996; de la Fuente, 2006; Izumi, 1999; Izumi, 2002; Song & Suh, 2008) together with formal and informal observations of Canadian immersion program (Swain, 1985) provide empirical evidence that developing productive ability of learners and language acquisition requires more than mere comprehending the language.
Many research findings to date have explored the role of output and different functions of it in language learning (Bygate, 1999; DeKeyser & Sokalski, 1996; De la Fuente, 2006; Garcia Mayo, 2002; Geeslin, 2006; Izumi, 2002; Izumi & Bigelow, 2000; Izumi et al., 1999; Izumi & Izumi, 2004; Newton & Kennedy,1996; Kim, 2009; Kuiken & Vedder, 2008; Lyster, 2004; Mehrang & Rahimpour, 2010; Mennim, 2003; Nobuyoshi & Ellis,1993; Qin, 2008; Reinders, 2009; Shehadeh, 1999; Shehadeh, 2003; Song & Suh, 2008; Storch,1998a &1998b; Swain & Lapkin, 1995; Vickers & Ene, 2006; Yoshimura, 2006). Among the various functions of output proposed by Swain (1995), the noticing function has received substantial attention since many research findings show that noticing and...
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