Research on the teaching of CA languages
As informed partially by the research project described above, we plan to conduct empirical research that will have direct implications for our instructional design, both in preparing language teaching materials (see section 1.D.2) and teacher training workshops. Although previous research has demonstrated that (comprehensible) input is necessary for foreign language acquisition and contended that other forms of presentation, such as explicit rules, are not as effective as authentic input (see e.g. Input Hypothesis, Krashen 1981), recent research indicates that more than input is needed for adult learners, and shows that explicit focus on language can be beneficial for language learning. Long (1991), for example, demonstrated that meaning-focused activities with ‘focus on form’ are essential, and DeKeyser (2003, 2007), one of our national advisory board members, maintained that in many cases explicit learning results in implicit knowledge and internalization through practice, e.g. via interactive language use. The debate on ‘focus on form’ has recently concentrated on more nuanced questions; whereas some research has argued that explicit focus on form is more effective than implicit (Norris and Ortega 2000), others have demonstrated that explicit focus is especially advantageous for more complex structures (Spada and Tomita 2010), a finding that may have wide-reaching implications for CA languages, in which a great majority of structures are maximally different from English, thereby rendering a greater number of more complex constructions, given the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis (Schwartz & Sprouse 1996, Second Language Research). This may suggest even greater explicit focus on form for CA languages, a question yet to be investigated. In fact, with respect to the role of feedback and corrections at least, and for learners of languages like Turkish, recent research by Yilmaz (e.g. 2013, Applied Linguistics; 2016, Studies in Second Language Acquisition), a member of our Local Advisory Board, found that explicit corrective feedback (oral or computer-mediated) is more effective than implicit corrective feedback.
As such, we will conduct experiments with respect to what topics and structures should be covered with explicit vs. implicit instruction and what kind of student errors should be treated with explicit vs. implicit corrective feedback.