Input for the Second Language Classroom: Some Innovations and Insights

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Adrienne Wai Man Lew


The importance of target language (TL) data in the learning environment has been increasingly recognized by instructional practitioners. One contributing factor is the surge of instructed second language acquisition (ISLA) research since the 1980s, which has resulted in a variety of input-based insights and approaches. Conceptually, Krashen’s (1982, 1985) Input Hypothesis alludes to the essentialness of making input “comprehensible” enough (i+1). That is, learners’ exposure to input must occur at a level just beyond their current capabilities in order for it to be beneficial for acquisition. Pedagogically, focus on form (FonF) (Long, 1991; Long & Robinson, 1998) techniques such as textual enhancement, input flood, and processing instruction (VanPatten, 1996, 2002, 2004) offer practical means for language instructors to make certain physical or formal features of input more salient to classroom learners within a communicative, meaning-focused context. Such meaning-oriented contexts include, for example, processing input for comprehension as part of a larger pedagogic task. That being the case, the past decade of ISLA research has gradually moved beyond the abovementioned focus on the surface, formal features of input to probe into the more intrinsic attributes of L2 input at the phonological, lexical, grammatical and discourse levels.

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