Scholarly article on topic 'Recast or Prompt: Which One Does the Trick?'

Recast or Prompt: Which One Does the Trick? Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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Abstract of research paper on Languages and literature, author of scientific article — Manoochehr Jafarigohar, Abdullah Gharbavi

Abstract The purpose of the present study was to explore if providing recast and prompt would have different effects on the grammatical development of Iranian learners of English. In other words, the study investigated the effect of corrective feedback on learners’ grammatical achievement. After administering a proficiency test, forty-five participants out of sixty were selected from the intact classes at a language institute in Ahwaz. These forty-five participants were randomly assigned to three groups namely, prompt, recast and no-feedback group or and control group each comprising of fifteen participants. Picture description tasks, referred as focused tasks (Ellis, 2012) were used as treatment. Two pen-and-paper tests were used as data collection tool. One was a grammatical judgment test and the other was a metalinguistic knowledge test. Data analysis through one-way ANOVA and Tukey test revealed significant differences between recast and prompt groups (p<.05). The results also showed that though both recast and prompt enhance the grammatical development of the learners, learners in prompt group achieved more than those in both recast and control groups. The results would benefit those teachers dealing with grammar instruction and error correction techniques. Moreover, teacher educators can use the findings of this study in their teacher education courses for pre-service or in-service teachers.

Academic research paper on topic "Recast or Prompt: Which One Does the Trick?"

ELSEVIER Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 98 (2014) 695 - 703

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

ScienceDirect

Procedía

Social and Behavioral Sciences

International Conference on Current Trends in ELT

Recast or Prompt: Which One Does the Trick?

Manoochehr Jafarigohar , nuuunan unaiuavi

a' bPayame Noor University, Tehran, 1559-814318, Iran

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to explore if providing recast and prompt would have different effects on the grammatical development of Iranian learners of English. In other words, the study investigated the effect of corrective feedback on learners' grammatical achievement. After administering a proficiency test, forty-five participants out of sixty were selected from the intact classes at a language institute in Ahwaz. These forty-five participants were randomly assigned to three groups namely, prompt, recast and no-feedback group or and control group each comprising of fifteen participants. Picture description tasks, referred as focused tasks (Ellis, 2012) were used as treatment. Two pen-and-paper tests were used as data collection tool. One was a grammatical judgment test and the other was a metalinguistic knowledge test. Data analysis through one-way ANOVA and Tukey test revealed significant differences between recast and prompt groups (p<.05). The results also showed that though both recast and prompt enhance the grammatical development of the learners, learners in prompt group achieved more than those in both recast and control groups. The results would benefit those teachers dealing with grammar instruction and error correction techniques. Moreover, teacher educators can use the findings of this study in their teacher education courses for pre-service or inservice teachers.

© 2014 The Authors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd. Thisis an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Urmia University, Iran.

Keywords: recast; prompt; feedback; form-focused instruction; error correction; grammar acquisition

1. Introduction

Corrective feedback is a fertile area of research for exploration. This rich area of research has received considerable attention recently in the field of second language acquisition (Ellis, 2012. p. 135). In particular, recasts

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +989166053357 E-mail address: agharUavi7777@gmail.com

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Urmia University, Iran.

doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.03.470

(correct reformulations of a learner's utterance) have been the focus of much debate (Baleghizadeh & Abdi, 2010; Braidi, 2002; Han, 2002; Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Mackey & Oliver, 2002; Mackey & Philp, 1998; Nassaji, 2007; Yousefi & Biria, 2011). Research has also shown that recasts are by far the most frequent type of feedback in a range of classroom settings: elementary immersion classrooms (Lyster & Ranta, 1997), university-level foreign language classrooms (Sheen, 2004), high school English as a foreign language (EFL) Classrooms (Daughty & Varela, 1998) , and adult ESL classrooms (Ellis, Basturkmen, & Loewen, 2001; Panova & Lyster, 2002). Research in immersion classrooms has shown that prompts are the next most frequent type of feedback after recasts, whereas explicit correction occurs with relative infrequency (Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Ellis, 2008).

During the last decade, some changes have occurred in the procedures of providing feedback. Classroom teacher feedback was mostly explicit negative feedback, but the emergence of communicative and content-based teaching approaches brought about some changes in the way feedback techniques are used in the classroom. There is now a shift from explicit negative feedback, which may lead to negative affective reactions on the part of the learners, to implicit negative feedback.

Lyster and Mori (2006) advocate using the feedback type that is opposite the communicative orientation of the classroom, which will momentarily shift learners' attention to the error correction. They advise teachers in highly form-focused classrooms to use recasts, and teachers in classrooms that are more meaning-focused to use prompts. However, in order to validate their claims, more research needs to be undertaken.

Before attempting to synopsize the research on corrective feedback, it is important to briefly define the more salient concepts and terms that have appeared in the literature over the last decade or so. The following section, therefore, seems in order.

2. Operational definitions and classifications

The terms below represent operational definitions that are the product of a multitude of research on error treatment and form focused instruction. Feedback moves have been categorized into different kinds. For example, Lyster (2002, 2004) divides them into three types: explicit corrections, recasts and prompts. Explicit correction and recast supply the learners with target reformulations of their nontarget output. In the case of explicit correction, the teacher supplies the correct form and clearly indicates that what the student said was incorrect, the example below is from Brown (2007, p. 278).

Student: when I have 12 years old

Teacher: no not have. You mean, "When I was 12years old... "

Recast can be defined as utterance that rephrases an utterance 'by changing one or more of its sentence components (subject, verb, or object) while still referring to its central meaning'(Long, 1996, p. 436).

Student: I go to cinema at weekend. Teacher: You went to cinema. What did you see? Student: 'Gladiators'. It was great.

Prompts, on the other hand, include a variety of signals-other than alternative reformulations - that push learners to self-repair (Lyster, 1998b; Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Lyster, 2002). Prompts represent a range of feedback types that include the different moves: (a) elicitation, in which the teacher directly elicits a reformulation from the student by asking questions such as "How do we say that in English?" or by pausing to allow the student to complete the teacher's utterance, or by asking the student to reformulate his or her utterance; (b) metalinguistic clues, in which the teacher provides comments or questions related to the well-formedness of the student's utterance such as "We don't say it like that in English"; (c) clarification requests, in which the teacher uses phrases such as "Pardon?" and "I don't understand" after learner errors to indicate to students that their utterance is ill-formed in some way and that

a reformulation is required; and (d) repetition, in which the teacher repeats the student's ill-formed utterance, adjusting intonation to highlight the error. Table 1, which displays these moves, has been adopted and adapted from Lyster and Mori (2006, p. 272).

Table 1 Types of Prompt

Types of prompt Speaker Student utterance + teacher prompt

(a) Elicitation Student (to another student) What color you like?

Teacher Uh, Reza, how do we say that in English?

What color do...?

Student What color do you like?

(b) Metalinguistic cues Student I see Ali last week

Teacher Good, but remember you are talking about

Past event.

(c) Clarification request Student I want go today, today

Teacher Pardon, I didn't get exactly what you said.

(d) Repetition Student I wanted see him.

Teacher I wanted to see him

3. Theoretical framework

Research on feedbacks is based on interaction hypothesis. The interaction approach accounts for learning through input (exposure to language), production of language (output), and feedback that comes as a result of interaction. It posits that interaction between a non-native speaker (NNS) and a native speaker (NS), or non-native speaker of a higher level, creates a naturalistic second language acquisition environment where the NNS learns through negotiation of meaning and / or becoming aware of gaps in their target language knowledge (Gas & Selinker, 2008).

The interaction hypothesis also posits that when an ESOL (ESL, EFL) learner is attempting to negotiate conversation in the target language the gaps in their abilities are revealed to them. These abilities can include but are not limited to pronunciation, syntax, grammar and vocabulary. The interaction hypothesis concludes that this self-realization, brought about by authentic interaction, will encourage the second language learner to produce target language output to negotiate meaning and seek out the knowledge they lack (Lyster & Mori, 2006). This interaction between the ESOL (ESL, EFL) learner and other students or the learner and the ESOL (ESL, EFL) teacher, results in language acquisition on the part of the learner, meaning they have internalized this chunk of language and will be able to produce it later when needed (Gas & Selinker, 2008).

4. Review of literature

A substantial body research studies have examined the occurrence and nature of recast, or the roles of recast and learners' response to recast. These studies are summarized and reviewed in the following lines.

Doughty and Varela (1998) compared the performance of two groups of young learners in a content-based classroom. The results showed that the learners in the corrective recasting group which included a repetition of the error, followed by a recast outperformed the other group who received no feedback.

Lyster and Ranta (1997) found an overwhelming tendency for teachers to use recasts (55% of the total number of turns containing feedback). However, they also found recast least likely to lead to learner uptake: only 31% of the recast moves led to uptake. Sheen's (2004) study also indicated that recasts were the most frequent feedback type. Meanwhile, the rate of learner uptake following recast was the lowest of all feedback types. Oliver (1995) showed 61% of the feedbacks in his study were recasts. Panova and Lyster (2002) in line with Lyster and Mori (2006) found that the teachers preferred to use recasts. However, the rate of learners' uptake following these recasts was very low. Lyster (1998b) discovered that the corrective force entailed in recasts might easily go unnoticed by learners due to their implicit nature.

Carpenter, Jeon, MaGregor and Mackey (2006) showed that learners were significantly less successful at distinguishing recasts from repetitions. Egi (2007) found that when recasts were long and substantially different from their problematic utterances, learners tended to interpret them as responses to content. So, the researcher suggested that the length of recast and number of changes might partially determine the explicitness of recasts and thus affected the learners' interpretation.

Han (2002) examined the contribution of CF in the form of recast to the acquisition of tense consistency. He found out that due to their heightened awareness, the learners in the recast group were more successful in both oral and written tests in comparison to the no feedback group.

In their experimental design study, Ellis, Loewen and Erlam (2006) compared the effectiveness of implicit and explicit CF on low-intermediate learners' performance. To measure the implicit knowledge, an oral imitation test was employed while in order to tap into the learners' explicit knowledge, grammaticality judgment test in addition to a metalinguistic knowledge test were used. The statistical analysis indicated the superiority of explicit feedback over the implicit type for both delayed imitation and grammaticality judgment test.

Lyster (2004) investigated the differential effects of recasts and prompts. The results indicated that the recast group was inferior to the prompt group at posttests. This limited effectiveness of recasts and the superiority of prompts was further reported by Ammar and Spada (2006) and Lyster and Izquierdo (2009). One of the major explanations they proposed for the superiority of prompt over recast was its explicitness. That is, prompt was more explicit than recast and thus highlighted the teacher's corrective objective, which was far less explicit and quite ambiguous in recast.

The purpose of the present study is to explore how providing recast and prompt would promote the acquisition of grammatical development in EFL context. To be more precise, how these two types of feedback can influence the acquisition of relative clauses in Iranian learners of English.

5. Research questions

1 Do recast and prompt have different effects on the grammatical development of Iranian learners of English?

2 In multiple comparisons of the recast, prompt and control group, which groups are significantly different from one another?

3 Which one is more facilitative to L2 grammar development, recast or prompt in the form of elicitation?

6. Method

6.1 Participants

The participants in this study were 45 volunteer intermediate students attending an English communicative course in one language institute in Ahwaz. The age range of the participants was between17 to 25. The native languages included Persian and Arabic. In order for us to make sure of the homogeneity between control group and experimental groups, proficiency pre-test was administered to the population of 6o. Based on the results of the pretest, 45 students were assigned into three groups of prompt, recast, and control groups. To ascertain that the learners

enjoy almost the same knowledge about the target structure (relative clauses), pretest was given to the three groups and an ANOVA test was run to check that the mean scores are not significantly different. The F value (4.632) indicated that the differences of the mean scores of the groups were not significant.

6.2 Research design

This study tests the effectiveness of two different feedbacks, namely, recast and prompt. We wanted to find out which type is more effective in advancing learner language. Treatment (I) used feedback in the form of prompt. Treatment (II) used another type, namely, recast. In the control group no treatment was included. We wanted to examine the effect of recast and prompt (independent variables) on the acquisition of relative clauses (dependent variable). To carry out this study a pretest or homogeneity test has been administered beforehand, then students were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. Treatments were interactional feedback which was put on experimental group and placebo to control group. At the end of the sixth session, a post-test was administered to all groups. So the current study enjoyed an experimental design.

6.3 Procedure

As mentioned in previous sections, three groups of students with the same range of language proficiency were selected from the English students in one language institute. This was carried out through TOEFL test .They were assigned to two experimental groups and a control group. The subjects in the treatment groups were asked to perform various picture description tasks which were of focused type (Ellis, 2003). The tasks purposefully elicited the relative clauses. The main focus of the tasks was on meaning rather than form. The learners were asked to imagine that they were on the phone with a friend who really needed to know the information in the pictures; So they were to describe the information in the picture using relative pronouns (whose, whom, where, which, who, when, etc.). In addition, they were told to imagine they are in lost and found office of an airport, describing the things they have lost. They were to use relative clause for this.

In the recast group, the researcher reformulated the learners' mistakes. The reformulation of the learner's erroneous utterance was stressed and the recast was of a partial type, that is, only the erroneous production of the target structure was corrected and the ungrammatical use of the definite article "the" in sentence 2 below was not corrected. The following are examples of recast to the learners' mistakes taken from this study:

1. a. The learner: The mouse whom the cat chasing it was big and old. b. The researcher: The mouse whom the cat chasing was big and old.

2. a. The learner: The boy which bicycle is blue is the John.

b. The researcher: The boy whose bicycle is blue is the John.

In prompt group, (in the form of elicitation), the researcher directly elicited a reformulation from the student by asking questions such as "How do we say that in English?" or by pausing to allow the student to complete the teacher's utterance, or by asking the student to reformulate his or her utterance. The followings are prompt episodes of this study:

3. a. The learner: the car in parking costs 800 dollars.

b. The researcher: is that a correct sentence? How do we say that in English?

4. a. The learner: in the cage the lion is eating some meat. b. the researcher: Say that again please.

At the end of the sixth session, a post-test was administered to all groups. Two pen-and-paper tests were constructed for the pretest and posttest. One was a grammatical judgment test and the other was a metalinguistic knowledge test.

6.4 Instrumentation

In order to fulfill the objectives of the study, some instruments were utilized: five communication tasks were used as treatment. They were picture-description tasks. According to McDonough (2005), picture-description tasks are widely used as instruments for data collection and analysis and as treatments in interaction research.

The tasks used here were operationalized according to Ellis' (2003, 2005) definition of an information-gap task. In the task, the participants were shown several pictures and required to describe what was in the picture according to the specific instruction. Description required the use of relative clauses. In addition to treatment tasks, testing instruments were also utilized. Two pen-and-paper tests were constructed for the pretest and posttest. One was a grammatical judgment test and the other was a metalinguistic knowledge test.

7. Results

The results of prompt, recast and control groups on the pretest and posttest are presented in Table 2 below.

Table 2.Descriptive Statistics for Recast, Prompt and Control groups

Pretest posttest

Group N M SD M SD

prompt 15 12.47 3.159 18.87 1.125

recast 15 12.53 2.825 14.93 1.907

control 15 11.93 2.549 14.20 2.651

As shown in Table2, mean scores improve from pretest to the posttests for both recast and prompt groups. For the recast, there was a considerable increase from pretest to posttest, while the mean score for prompt group improved slightly. As for control group, the mean scores show a slight drop.

Table.3 Test of Homogeneity of Variances

Levene Statistic df1 df2 Sig

2.565 2 42 0.89

One of the assumptions of the one-way ANOVA is that the variances of the groups you are comparing are similar. The table test of homogeneity of variances (see above) shows the result of Levene's Test of Homogeneity of Variance, which tests for similar variances. If the significance value is greater than 0.05 (found in the Sig. column) then you have homogeneity of variances. We can see from this table that Levene's F Statistic has a significance value of 0.89 and, therefore, the assumption of homogeneity of variance is met.

Since homogeneity of variances for prompt, recast and control group was met, one-way ANOVA was used to test the question if these groups would have different effects on the grammatical achievement of Iranian English learners. Summaries of the results of ANOVA are presented in Table 4.

Table 4. ANOVA for test scores on posttest

Sum of Squares df Mean Square F

Between group 188.993 2 94.467 .000

Within group 167.067 42 3.978

Total 356.000 44

* p < .05

As can be seen from Table 4, the ANOVA performed on the posttest scores of the groups revealed significant differences among groups, F (2, 42) = 23.749, p < .05. This result suggests that there is a significant difference somewhere among the groups. However, this result does not tell us which group is different from which other group. The statistical significance of differences between each pair of group can be determined by post-hoc tests. There are some types of post-hoc tests. One post-hoc test that can serve our purpose best is Tukey test.

Tukey as a post-hoc test relies on homogeneity of variance and equality of the number of subjects in different groups. Since both of these assumptions were met in this study, Tukey test was used. Table 5 displays the outcome of this test.

Table 5. Tukey test (multiple comparisons)

Mean difference SD. error Sig

Prompt prompt 3.933* .728 .000

control 4.667* .728 .000

Recast recast -3.933* .728 .000

control .733 .728 .577

Control recast -4.667* .728 .000

prompt -.733* .728 .577

* p < .05

Looking at Table 5, you can clearly see that the pair groups that are significantly different from one another at the p<.05 level. Recast and prompt groups are significantly different from one another (p= .000) as well as prompt and control groups. In other words, recast and prompt group differ significantly in terms of their grammatical gains. However, there were no differences between the recast and control groups.

8. Discussion

The finding in Table 4 indicates that the efficacy of the above-mentioned types of feedback is different from one another. This finding is attributable to explicit and implicit nature of recast and prompt as corrective feedback. Recast and prompt had different effect on the academic success of the learners in terms of their grammar acquisition because recast and prompt make the learners to draw on different cognitive and social factors. This is consistent with the previous literature. For example, Ishida (2004) found that recast and prompt leave different effects on the acquisition of Japanese aspectual form -te i-(ru). One explanation that can be put forward for this finding is that prompt call on the learners to make self- repair. However, in recast, error correction does not call on higher order processing on the part of learners.

The findings also showed that the learners' grammatical achievement in prompt and control groups differ significantly at the p<.05 level (see Table 5). In contrast, there were no differences between the recast and control groups. This suggests that the treatment in prompt group was more effective than those of recast and control groups. This could be ascribed to the different corrective force of prompt and recast. Researchers argue that the implicitness/explicitness of feedback can impact learners' perception as to whether it functions as a correction, thus influencing its effectiveness. For example, the corrective intentions of recasts were reported to be easily unnoticed by learners due to their implicitness (Lyster, 1998a), as shown in the following example:

Learner: To her is good thing. To her is good thing. Teacher: Yeah for her it's a good thing. Learner: Because she got a lot of money there.

In the above example, the teacher's recast seemed to have been taken as a confirmation of what had been said instead of a correction of the erroneous utterance, due to its implicitness. In contrast, the corrective intention of explicit feedback types are often made more salient by overtly rejecting the erroneous utterance of learners.

Furthermore, the finding revealed that prompt was more effective than recast and control groups (see Table 5). Therefore, this finding lends support to Lyster and Mori (2006) stating that in highly form-focused classrooms to use recasts, and teachers in classrooms that are more meaning-focused to use prompts. The finding can be attributable to the nature of the learners and the target structures. In other words, some learners appear to be more receptive to prompt than recasts, and that some structures seem more amenable to prompts than recasts. The participants of this study or relative clauses might be more responsive to prompt than to recast. Another explanation for the findings can be ascribed to the ambiguous nature of recast. For example, Nicholas, Howard, Lightbown, Patsy and Spada (2001) found that recasts were ambiguous and hence were sometimes perceived as synonymous in function as mere repetition for language learners. Lyster (1998b) and Panova and Lyster (2002) believe that recasts usually pass unnoticed by the learners and hence are not facilitative for interlanguage development. According to Loewen and Philp (2006) recasts do not elicit repair and learners are simply provided with the correct form without being pushed to modify their interlanguage.

9. Conclusion and future work

This study explored the role of recast and prompt in the development of learner language. The results indicated that prompt was more effective than recast in leading to L2 grammar development. Thus, this study provided empirical support for the interaction hypothesis which proposes a facilitative role of interaction in SLA. The superiority of prompt over recast theoretically implies a beneficial role for negative evidence in SLA and implies that pedagogically, prompt is a better choice for L2 teachers than recast in an L2 classroom.

Although this study provides clear evidence that prompt and recasts can facilitate acquisition, we still do not really have a clear picture of when they will do so. Learner factors, the nature of the targeted features, and the characteristics of the recasts help to determine, in complex ways, when recasts work for acquisition and when they do not. If recasts are intensive, focused, and individualized (as has been the case in laboratory studies), they are likely to be effective. Of interest, then, is not just whether recasts facilitate acquisition but whether they do so more efficiently than other techniques. Future researchers are supposed to take the limitations of this study into consideration and investigate other characteristics of prompt and recast, and the effects of other types of recast (metalinguistic cues, clarification request, and repetition) on the acquisition of various linguistic structures.

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank all of our colleagues and friends for their insightful comments and valuable feedback that shaped the development and revision of our manuscript. Also, many thanks should go to the anonymous conference reviewer who provided us with useful and fascinating insights to modify the original manuscript.

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