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A case study in the restructuring of linguistic knowledge among adult ESL students Fazio, Ronald John


This study examines two cases of Japanese learners involved in an eight-month university exchange program in Canada. Case A, comprised of one male and one female subject, was classified as containing "advanced" speakers of English, while Case B, also composed of one male and one female subject, was classified as containing "novice" speakers of English. For the first time in their careers as second language students, these subjects experienced a task-based, process approach to learning mediated through student group membership. The study attempted a psycholinguistic analysis of individual styles of second language acquisition (SLA) through an examination of the use of three kinds of performance features: self repairs, repeats and hesitation pauses. It also attempted to draw a sociolinguistic portrait of these subjects as learners whose strategies for language acquisition were related to educational and cultural factors. Although the findings in psycho- and sociolinguistic areas of inquiry were inconclusive regarding the role of restructuring, the results indicated that changes in procedural knowledge regarding strategic behaviour occurred for both cases, and that a more autonomous attitude towards group control of behaviour was articulated by the Case A subjects. Changes in orientations to learning as measured by performance feature use were not significant, although a trend towards decreased use of hesitation pauses in Case B suggested a reduced reliance on unverbalized planning. Finally, both cases demonstrated growth in the use of such reading strategies as scanning for main ideas and using contextual clues.

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