Sunday, April 27, 2014

The effects of Processing Instruction on School-Age Learners and Adult Native Speakers of German: the Acquisition of English Past Simple Tense by Alessandro Benati - Report

Dr Alessandro Benati ‘s presentation consisted of three parts in which he explained in detail the study  of  the effects of Processing Instruction on school-age learners and adult  native speakers of German.

In the first part, Dr Benati gave a brief account of the background and the motivation of the study where he also defined the terms Processing Input and Processing Instruction, as stated in Van Pattens’ current theory of Input Process. The input that is actually processed is called Intake and is closely related to the internal strategies by which the L2 learners derive intake and correct the information. Dr Benati explained that studies have tended to use adults while he and J.F.Lee have used 12-13year- olds in their research, in their search to make Processing Instruction effective, pointing out that further research has to be conducted.

In the second part of this presentation, he went on to explain the research design and how it had been conducted. -The aims of the studies were to address the role that age might play in the results generated by processing instruction (P.I.) He demonstrated tables containing the participants linguistic features, age and the material they were given, e.g. sentence-level interpretation tasks, based on explicit information input activities, e.g. the passive construction the past tense and the 3rd person in the present tense.

During the third part, he demonstrated the results and the conclusions highlighting the fact that both adult and child groups had very similar results in Instruction and Detention (retaining their ability of comprehension), and secondly the limitation of this study which were the limited size and the short period that detention was measured (2-3 weeks).

By manipulating the Input of language we might focus on the meaning thus  forcing learners to make connections so that language grows is what he concluded and I believe is the main key element of teaching a foreign language successfully.

There was room for discussion after Dr Benati ‘s thorough presentation where a few questions were asked and some issues were clarified.

Dr  Benati's book Studies of Language Acquisition (SOLA) is only one among his many publications and articles emphasizing  the connection between  grammatical forms and language acquisition , a valuable tool to both  teachers and students of Applied Linguistics.

By Fani Dafnopatidou

Interviewed by our Roving Reporter: Theodora Papapanagiotou

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