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Volume 14 Number 1, Spring 2017, Pages 1-210 PDF Download

Effects of Cognitive Comparison during Focus-on-Form Instruction on Japanese EFL Learners' Acquisition of Grammar*

    Ren Oyama

The present study examines effects of focus-on-form (FonF) instruction on the development of the use of the past counterfactual conditional among Japanese learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). The researcher developed instructional techniques for inducing cognitive comparisons by means of a written modeling method. The study included three groups of university students (N = 84): (1) an Explicit FonF group (EFF), which received model texts and explicit grammar instruction after second language (L2) writing; (2) an Implicit FonF group (IFF), which received only model texts after L2 writing; and (3) a Focus on Meaning group (FonM), which engaged in L2 writing only. The results showed that EFF outperformed IFF and FonM, and that IFF outperformed FonM in the written sentence-completion test. The data indicated that approximately 56% of the noticed linguistic features of IFF were for grammar, and that approximately 44% of students in the IFF condition noticed the target form while comparing their own texts and the model texts. The author argues that FonF instruction, which helps L2 learners make cognitive comparisons, has a more significant effect on the development of their productive knowledge of the target form than FonM instruction, in which learners are not involved in making cognitive comparisons.

Keywords: cognitive comparison, focus on form, written modeling, Japanese EFL learners, the English past counterfactual conditional