Processing Instruction and Second Language Grammar Acquisition

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Adrienne Wai Man Lew


The significance of input, namely meaning-bearing linguistic instances of the target language (TL) (VanPatten, 1996), in accounting for how learners create second language (L2) grammars has long been established (Gass, 1997). Krashen (1985), in his Input Hypothesis, even argues that the sheer provision of abundant comprehensible input would be “necessary and sufficient” for second language acquisition (SLA). In light of such characteristics as “lack of success” and “the importance of instruction” in Bley-Vroman’s (1989) Fundamental Difference Hypothesis vis-à-vis adult L2 learners, however, it appears that manipulating aspects of learning conditions may facilitate L2 grammar acquisition. Some researchers (e.g., Sanz and Morgan-Short, 2005) suggest that external manipulation of input through textual (Jourdenais, Ota, Stauffer, Boyson, & Doughty, 1995) or prosodic (Leeman, 2003) enhancement, or even input flood (Trahey & White, 1993) might induce internal processing, considering that the target forms are made more salient and are thus more likely to be detected by the learner. Others, while acknowledging the difficulty of controlling and measuring L2 processing, still see value in theorizing about the learner’s internal language acquisition mechanism to make sense of the manner input processing (IP) works.

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APPLE Award Winning Papers in AL & TESOL