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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A longitudinal study of the effects of instruction on the development of article use by adult Japanese ESL learners Mellow, John Dean


This dissertation investigates the effects and value of instructional activities for improving second language use of English articles. After reviewing a number of issues concerning pedagogical, linguistic, psycholinguistic, and internal validity, this study presents the results of eight longitudinal time-series case studies of adult Japanese learners of English residing in Vancouver, Canada, four of whom received grammatical explanations, input processing activities, and output practice activities regarding English article use. Learner development was assessed on three different narrative retelling tasks (spoken, written, and cloze) and the production was analysed with reference to specific contexts of use, indicating the form-function mappings that comprised the learners' interlanguage knowledge. The results indicated that the learners' interlanguage production exhibited (a) the anticipated task variation, with greater suppliance of the on tasks that allowed greater attention to form, and (b) the anticipated discoursal variation, with the supplied more consistently when it was primed as a redundant element on the written task and with the supplied less consistently when it was efficiently deleted as a redundant element on the spoken task. The results also indicated the variable nature of individual development and the value of assessing development longitudinally on different tasks. Importantly, the results indicated that the learners improved or continued improving after instruction, and strongly suggested that instruction can cause automatization of interlanguage knowledge. This finding suggests that form-focused instruction may be valuable for second language learning, and that pedagogical positions opposing form-focused instruction may need to be revised or abandoned.

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