To this end, it requires them to give primary attention to meaning and to make use of their own linguistic resources, although the design of the task may predispose them to choose particular forms. A task is intended to result in language use that bears a resemblance, direct or indirect, to the way language issued in the real world. Like other language activities, a task can engage productive or receptive, and oral or written skills, and also various cognitive processes. (Ellis, as cited in de la Fuente, 2006, p. 264).
Alan V. Brown (2009), University of Kentucky, Department of Hispanic Studies, asserts in the study, "Students' and teachers' perceptions of effective foreign language teaching: A comparison of ideals," that although formulating teachers' and students' perceptions of L2 teaching constitutes a formidable task and sometimes may seem an endless chore, the assessment depicts an arena where research proves vital. The need for ongoing research in this area needs to continue as in the L2 classroom, changes in L2 teaching practices continue over time and idiosyncratic perceptions of L2 amidst teachers and students remain a revealing, relevant reality.
Explicit Grammar Instruction
The study by de la Fuente strongly supports the value of employing a proactive form-focused approach to Task-Based L2 vocabulary learning, particularly structure-based production tasks. Results assert that a task-based lesson utilizing an explicit focus-on-forms component proved more successful than a task-based lesson that did not factor in promoting the acquisition of word morphological aspects. Additional results suggest the explicit focus on forms component may merit better results when positioned after the student acquires the meaning, at the end of the lesson (de la Fuente, 2006). Ultimately, de la Fuente (2006) concludes, instructive tasks serve a vital role in teaching L2 vocabulary.
Macaro and Masterman (2006) tested 12 students/participants who completed a course in French grammar directly before their university studies to ascertain if a short, albeit intensive barrage of explicit instruction, an approach reportedly not previously investigated, possessed significant power to foster improvement in the learners' grammatical knowledge, as well as their production tasks' performance. From Macaro and Masterman testing the participants at three points over five months and comparing retrieved results with those of a group, not provided the intervention, findings support previous findings that explicit instruction does stimulate gains in some aspects of grammar tests, albeit does not promote gains in student accuracy in either free composition or translation (Ibid.).
Findings Paul D. Toth (2004), Department of Modern Languages University of Akron, Ohio, recounts in the study, "When grammar instruction undermines cohesion in L2 Spanish classroom discourse," indicate that when the educator ensures the content and sequence their contributions ensure the direction and purpose of classroom discourse are transparent, this may aid learner's comprehension in grammar instruction. Toth "compares ordinary conversational topics and targeted second language (L2) forms for their effectiveness in building and maintaining classroom discourse cohesion" (p. 27). Poor topic cohesion, Toth asserts, may adversely affect comprehension in low-L2-proficiency learners more than it would influence high-L2-proficiency learners, as individuals processing fewer of their interlocutor's utterances' morphosyntactic features will depend more on wider discourse patterns for inference of intended meanings and in turn, formulate appropriate responses. In instructor-led, whole-class interaction, albeit where learners possess less freedom to construct the discourse direction than they would in ordinary conversation, the instructor primarily bears the responsibility to establish and maintain constructive cohesion.
In "Reviewing the case for explicit grammar instruction in the university foreign language learning context," John Klapper and Jonathan Rees (2003), University of Birmingham, focus on two groups of participants within the project's sample. From their charting over the four-year period, Klapper and Rees utilized two differing and repeated proficiency measures, one holistic, and another focusing on grammatical competence, to highlight the effect of formal and naturalistic learning contexts on the sample's pace and development order, relating to specific grammatical competencies in L2 German. Klapper and Rees, however, exposed the groups to differing instructional approaches, giving the specialist group extensive explicit teaching of grammatical forms, and allocating more meaning-focused tuition in German to the less specialist group, "with only occasional and, generally, more incidental attention to linguistic form" (p. 286). In terms of entry, both the specialist group and the less specialist group possessed similar profile IQ and German language proficiency scores while they received comparable amounts of instruction.
One conclusion from this study effort confirmed the natural route of language acquisition. According to Klapper and Rees, although findings from analyzing the progress on specific structures in L2 German indicates some learners display more progress under the formal instruction influence, naturalistic exposure appears to stimulate other learners more successfully. Neither instruction nor naturalistic exposure, albeit, appear to possess the potential to modify L2 acquisition orders.
Hybrid Grammar Instruction
Shiva Kaivanpanah and Sayyed Mohammad Alavi (2008). English Department, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, purport in the study, "The role of linguistic knowledge in word-meaning inferencing," that in regard to L2 research, researchers have not attributed adequate focus on the role of grammatical knowledge in inferencing word meaning. Kaivanpanah and Alavi address:
1. The effects of syntactic complexity of texts on inferencing word meaning,
2. The relationship between level of language proficiency and EFL learners' inferencing ability in syntactically simple and complex texts, and
3. The use of linguistic and extralinguistic knowledge sources in inferencing. (Kaivanpanah & Alavi, 2008, p. 172).
Kaivanpanah and Alavi (2008) find indications that the texts' syntactic complexity, along with the language proficiency level impact word-meaning inferencing. "Explicit instruction of grammatical constructions, for example, helps L2 learners realize whether an unknown word is a verb, noun, or adjective. Implicit instruction of grammar also raises learners' consciousness regarding how words are related in sentences" (Kaivanpanah & Alavi, 2008, p. 189).
Results also may tentatively support the perception that grammatical knowledge contributes to word-meaning inferencing, while it also calls for explicit instruction of grammatical structures in L2 contexts.
In the study, " Language education: Past, present and future," Stephen Krashen (2008), University of Southern California, purports that the Skill-Building Hypothesis perception has dominated language teaching in the recent past. This view asserts that the individual first learns language by from initially learning about it. Next, the individual practices the rules he/she learned in output. The emergence of the Comprehension Hypothesis, the view that one acquires language when he/she understands messages, currently marks the present consensus in this area, Krashen states. This contemporary view embraces "the beginning stages of its applications: comprehensible-input-based teaching methods, sheltered subject matter teaching, and the use of extensive reading for intermediate language student"( Krashen,, p. 178). In grammar instruction, the profession is currently taking more advantage of The Comprehension Hypothesis, Krashen concludes.
Beniko Mason Shitennoji, International Buddhist University, Osaka, Japan,
and Stephen Krashen (2004), Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California,
conduct the study, "Is form-focused vocabulary instruction worthwhile?." According to Shitennoji and Krashen, for both first and second language acquisition, hearing stories may enhance incidental vocabulary development. They add, however that some also claim "…direct instruction is more effective than incidental vocabulary acquisition and that combining both approaches will be more effective than incidental acquisition alone" (Shitennoji & Krashen, p. 179). In their study, through the learners' hearing a story, combining a story and supplementary activities crafted to purposely focus students on learning the new words in the story.
According to Shitennoji and Krashen (2004), findings indicate that supplemental focus on form in the form of traditional vocabulary exercises does not prove to be as efficient as the learner hearing words in the context of stories. The authors, albeit, note that numerous considerations prohibit them from firmly embracing this particular conclusion. Shitennoji and Krashen do assert, however, that hearing stories serves as a pleasant experience, and although hearing stories may be a bit less efficient than skill-building for vocabulary development, a number of positive supportive reasons attribute to many learners preferring this instructional method. .
Nina Spada, Khaled Barkaoui, Colette Peters, Margaret So and Antonella Valeo (2009), Department of Curriculum Teaching and Learning, Modern Language Centre, Ontario Institute, contend in "Developing a questionnaire to investigate second language learners' preferences for two types of form-focused instruction," that in defining and measuring preferences for different types of second/foreign language instruction, qualitative data they collected about teachers' preferences confirms that a number of difficulties and challenges surface during the process. One challenge includes the fact that: "Learning may be negatively affected when learners' expectations are not matched by the reality of the classroom and learner attitudes play a strong role in determining the success of innovations in instructional practices" (Spada, Barkaoui, Peters, So & Valeo, 2009, p. 71). In addition, when instructors' and learners' attitudes do not match, this potentially leads to conflict that may adversely affect learning.
In the study, "Incidental focus on form in teacher -- learner and learner…