Explicit and Implicit Factors in Foreign Language Learning

    Controversies concerning the relative contribution of explicit and implicit factors in foreign language learning have always been core issues for foreign language pedagogy. Some methods stress the importance of conscious analysis, explicit knowledge of target language morphological paradigms and syntactic rules, direct explanation, and deductive practice. Other pedagogical approaches stress the importance of subconscious learning processes and advocate instruction that is based on motivated communicative interaction and exposure to natural input, with little or no explicit explanation, drill, or error correction.

    This project consisted of a series of experimental and classroom-based studies that investigated the interplay among different kinds of language input, instructional treatments, and learner-internal psychological processes.

    In studies conducted at the University of Hawai‘i with NFLRC support, Kim investigated the speech elements from the speech stream that L2 learners attend to, Palmeira investigated “uptake” in Hawaiian classes, Roberts observed learner awareness and understanding of error correction in Japanese classes using the Jorden method, Alanen investigated the effectiveness of rule presentation and input-enhancement in the learning of Finnish, and Robinson measured the effects of aptitude and awareness on implicit and explicit learning through computer-assisted instruction. Reports of each of these studies are contained in Technical Report #9. This technical report also contains two studies contributed by researchers at Georgetown University: Jourdenais, Ota, Stauffer, Boyson and Doughty investigated the extent to which textual enhancement promotes noticing in Spanish classes, using a think-aloud protocol, and Leeman, Arteagoitia, Fridman and Doughty report on a method for integrating attention to form with meaning in content-based content instruction. An overview article by Schmidt presents a tutorial on the role of attention and awareness in learning, and a concluding chapter by Jan Hulstijn of the Free University Amsterdam considers the implications of these studies for the teaching of grammar in foreign language classes.