Scholarly article on topic 'Teaching Requestive Downgraders in L2: How Effective are Written vs. Oral Output-Based Tasks?'

Teaching Requestive Downgraders in L2: How Effective are Written vs. Oral Output-Based Tasks? Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Dictogloss Task / Instructed Interlanguage Pragmatics / Output Based-tasks / Pragmatics / Recast / Request / Requestive Downgraders

Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Reza Ghafar Samar, Abdol Hossein Ahmadi

Abstract The present study examines the impact of focused tasks on the development of Iranian EFL learners’ pragmatic competence. To this end, the researchers devised the dictogloss (DIG) as a written output-based task to explicitly raise learners’ awareness of the requestive downgraders. The researchers also administered the recast feedback during an oral output-based task to implicitly raise learners’ awareness of the target features. Prior to the experiment, 147 Iranian EFL learners and 43 American native English speakers were asked to participate in the study to help the researchers develop the instruments. To carry out the study, the researchers matched 60 Iranian EFL learners in two groups based on their scores on the Oxford Placement Test (2004). The groups were then randomly assigned to instructional conditions, namely the DIG task and the recast. Findings demonstrated that participants in both tasks preformed significantly better in the immediate and delayed posttests than in the pretest. The results also revealed that neither the effects of instructional treatment nor the effects of time were significant between the groups on the perception and production measures. Similarly, participants in both groups maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest on the same measures. For the recognition measure, although the effects of treatment were marginally significant in favor of the participants in the DIG task, they could not maintain the positive effects of treatment in the delayed posttest. This rendered the effect of time non-significant on this measure.

Academic research paper on topic "Teaching Requestive Downgraders in L2: How Effective are Written vs. Oral Output-Based Tasks?"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 98 (2014) 532 - 541

International Conference on Current Trends in ELT

Teaching Requestive Downgraders in L2: How Effective are Written vs. Oral Output-Based Tasks?

Reza Ghafar Samara, Abdol Hossein Ahmadib *

aTarbiat Modaress University, Tehran, Iran bIslamic Azad University, Larestan Branch, Iran

Abstract

The present study examines the impact of focused tasks on the development of Iranian EFL learners' pragmatic competence. To t his end, the researchers devised the dictogloss (DIG) as a written output-based task to explicitly raise learners' awareness of the requestive downgraders. The researchers also administered the recast feedback during an oral output-based task to implicitly raise learners' awareness of the target features. Prior to the experiment, 147 Iranian EFL learners and 43 American native English speakers were asked to participate in the study to help the researchers develop the instruments. To carry out the study, the researchers matched 60 Iranian EFL learners in two groups based on their scores on the Oxford Placement Test (2004). The groups were then randomly assigned to instructional conditions, namely the DIG task and the recast. Findings demonstrated that participants in both tasks preformed significantly better in the immediate and delayed posttests than in the pretest. The results also revealed that neither the effects of instructional treatment nor the effects of time were significant between the groups on the perception and production measures. Similarly, participants in both groups maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest on the same measures. For the recognition measure, although the effects of treatment were marginally significant in favor of the participants in the DIG task, they could not maintain the positive effects of treatment in the delayed posttest. This rendered the effect of time non-significant on this measure.

© 2014 TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.Thisis anopen 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: Dictogloss Task, Instructed Interlanguage Pragmatics, Output Based-tasks, Pragmatics, Recast, Request, Requestive Downgraders

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 09177811709; fax: 0781. E-mail address:abdolhosseinahmadi@yahoo.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.2014.03.449

1. Introduction

Reviewing the literature on instructed interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) reveals that educators are gradually developing their interest in the research examining the role of L2 pragmatic instruction in the development of learners' pragmatic competence. This shift of interest can be traced in the educators' stance in different times. For example, Kasper (2001) proposed that a significant portion of the literature has only focused on ILP use rather than development. From this time on, ILP researchers little by little grew their interest in the extension of the principles of instructed second language acquisition (SLA) into pragmatics. Takahashi (2005), for instance, pointed out that, as a parallel to mainstream SLA research, ILP researchers have recently borrowed the principles of instructed SLA and explored the instructional effects on learners' acquisition of L2 pragmatic features.

Despite the growing instructed ILP research, findings in this area are far from being conclusive. Jean and Kaya (1996, as cited in Takimoto, 2009), in their meta analysis, argued that the findings on the developmental pragmatic studies should not be taken as definitive unless ILP studies are examined in greater detail from different perspectives. A glance at the literature reveals that past studies mostly looked at the implicit and explicit teaching of pragmatic features. As advised by Alcon-Soler and Martinez-Flor (2005), similar to research in morpho-syntactic area, L2 pragmatic researchers should examine more the effects of appropriate input, output opportunities and feedback provision on the EFL learners' development of pragmatic competence.

Since past pragmatic studies have not explored much the role of focused tasks, this study compares the effects of two output-based tasks on the development of learners' pragmatic ability. The researchers employed dictogloss (DIG) as a written production task to explicitly raise learners' awareness of the requestive downgaders. During an oral production task, i.e., the role-play task, the researchers also administered the recast to implicitly raise learners' awareness of the target features.

In this study, the researchers utilized the above focused tasks to teach the requestive downgraders as the instructional treatments. Ahmadi, Ghafar Samar and Yazdani Moghaddam (2011) argued why they delimited the scope of the study to the speech act of request and, more specifically, to the internal requestive downgraders. For example, Hassall (2001) demonstrated that even advanced EFL learners did not modify their requests internally as often as native speakers did, or employed supportive moves that included redundant elements. Therefore, in compliance with EFL learners' need for more formal instructions on the internal requestive downgraders, this study investigates the effects of focused tasks on this pragmatic feature.

2. The Review of Literature

2.1. Dictogloss as a Written Production Task

Loewen (2011) calls the use of the DIG task as one of the focus on form (FonF) options, in the strictest sense of word, into question and places this task in the middle of FonF and focus on forms (FonFS) continuum. He states that the DIG task possesses neither the feature of FonF activities nor those of FonFS activities; nevertheless, as Ellis (2003) states, this task meets 'the essential requirement' of a task and results in the very explicit attention to form. Wajnryb (1990) defines the DIG task as "a procedure that requires learners to reconstruct a short text after listening to it twice. The text is specifically designed to focus attention on a specific grammatical feature so it constitutes a type of focused task" (as cited in Ellis, 2003, p. 341). Swain (1998) and Swain and Lapkin (2001) reported the effectiveness of the DIG task in morphosyntactic studies. Following Ahmadi, Ghafar Samar, and Yazdani Moghaddam's (2011) revision to the DIG task, the researchers exploited this task in their pragmatic studies.

2.2. Recast Promoting a Focus on a Production Task

Ellis (2003) mentioned that some implicit methodological techniques such as recast can be employed to provide feedback on learners' use of targeted features in a manner that maintains the meaning centeredness of the task. He stated that recast can be utilized to give a focus to a task if they are directed at some predetermined features. According to Long (1996), the negotiation of meaning or the negative feedback such as recast supplied by a native speaker, a teacher, a more proficient reader during the negotiation work can smooth the way for the acquisition of

L2 features since it connects input, internal learner capacities, particularly selective attention, and output in productive ways. Therefore, it can be proposed that this hypothesis integrates the noticing and output hypotheses.

For morpho-syntactic studies, Lyster (2004) defined recast as "a well formed reformulation of a learners' nontarget utterance with the original meaning intact" (p. 403). Following Fukuya and Hill (2006), the pragmalinguisitc recast, for the current research, was operationalized as teachers' repetition of the conventional part of an inappropriate or inaccurate request using a rising tone and supplying an appropriate and accurate request form.

2.3. Empirical Interventional Studies

Although majority of the ILP studies have been conducted from the implicit/explicit perspective, the results are far from being exclusive. Rose and Ng Kwai-fun (2001), Takimoto (2009), Takahashi (2001) and Tateyama (2001) attested to the effectiveness of the explicit instruction. Other studies (e.g., Alcon-Soler, 2005; Martinez-Flor & Fukuya, 2005), however, claim that implicit instruction can also be equally effective. As observed here, more studies need to be done to specify in what circumstances the implicit or explicit teaching can be at an advantage over the other. Since the current study investigates the effects of focus tasks on the development of learners' pragmatic ability, the details of studies are not stated and the attention is turned to ILP studies and focused tasks.

Providing an opportunity for the learners' production of requests through the role play tasks, Fukuya and Hill (2006) used recast to give an implicit focus to the inaccurate and inappropriate requests. Discourse completion tests showed that the pragmatic recast group performed better than the control group. Takimoto (2009) also evaluated the effectiveness of structured input tasks with and without explicit information and problem solving tasks in teaching English polite request forms to Japanese intermediate learners of English. The results indicated that the treatment groups performed significantly better than the control group on a discourse completion task, a listening test, and an acceptability judgment test. Ahmadi et al. (2011) compared the effects of consciousness raising as an input-based task and DIG as an output-based task on the learners' enhancement of pragmatic competence. They revealed that the effects of treatment and time were not significant on pragmatic tests. Findings showed that both groups maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest on the production and perception measures. The participants in the DIG task significantly fell to a lower level in the delayed posttest on the recognition measure.

Due to the scarcity of research on the effects of the focused tasks on the development of EFL learners' pragmatic competence, the researchers compare the effects of implementing the DIG as an explicit written output-based task with those of a production task, i.e., the role play, during which the recast feedback is employed to implicitly raise learners' awareness of the pragmatic features. The effects of these tasks are measured on the learners' immediate and delayed perceptions concerning the nature of language, recognition and production of the requestive downgraders. Therefore, the following research questions are investigated in this study:

1. Are the effects of using recast feedback and DIG task significant on Iranian EFL learners' language perception, recognition and production of requestive downgraders?

2. Are the effects of time significant on Iranian EFL learners' language perception, recognition and production of requestive downgraders from the immediate to delayed posttest?

3. Method

3.1. Participants

Prior to the experimental phase, 147 Iranian EFL learners studying at Islamic Azad University, Larestan-Branch were employed to take part in the study over a semester to prepare the instruments. These senior students majoring in the English language and literature at the B.A. level were 26 males and 121 females ranging in age from 21 to 26. The participants had never experienced life in a second language environment and their exposure to the English language was only through formal education in high school and university. To provide the baseline data for different phases of the study, 43 American native speakers of English were asked to take part in the study. The participants in this phase were 34 males and 9 females ranging in age from 20 to 63. Native speakers were from different fields of study e.g., physics, history, and linguistics and their education backgrounds ranged from B.A. to Ph.D.

For the experimental phase of the study, 150 Iranian EFL learners initially sat for the Oxford Placement Test (OPT), devised by Allen (2004). Based on their scores, the researchers matched 60 students with two standard deviations (SD = 15) above and below the mean (M=120) in the two experimental groups. More specifically, there were five upper intermediate, 10 intermediate and 15 elementary learners in each group. Eight males and 22 females with an age mean of 21.2 comprised participants in the DIG task. Participants in the recast condition were seven males and 23 females with an age mean of 21.5. They were mainly juniors and seniors but some freshmen and sophomores were also included.

3.2. Instruments

To compare the effects of focused task on the development of Iranian EFL learners' pragmatic competence, The researchers utilized the instruments employed in Ahmadi, et. al's., (2011) study, i.e., the production and recognition tests and perception questionnaire. The scenarios serving as the recognition and production tests were constructed in the light of the contextual variables of power, social distance and the size of imposition. The scenarios with the [±/-power, +social distance, + imposition] combination of variables meant that the request was to a person with equal or greater power than the speaker, who was unknown and for a relatively big favor. For the other combination, i.e., [±/+power, -social distance, - imposition], the scenarios suggested a request to a person with equal or less power than the speaker, who was known, and for a relatively small favor,

The production test assessing Iranian EFL learners' written production of the requestive downgraders required them to write their requests for each scenario. Prior to the study, the accuracy and appropriateness of the scenarios and wordings of the instrument were examined and modified by two native speakers. This instrument was pretested with a group of 20 Iranian EFL learners, which showed the reliability of 0.80. Following Fukuya and Hill (2006) and Martinez-Flor and Fukuya (2005), an analytic assessment was used to score the learners' responses to the test.

Following Farhadi, Jafarpour and Birjandi's (1994) functional approach to language testing, Ahmadi, et. al. (2011), constructed a test to investigate the impact of input-based and output-based tasks on the development of Iranian EFL learners' recognition of the requestive downgraders. The design of the test required learners not only to select the best choices for the provided scenarios but to explain why they had not selected other choices. Options for each request scenario were linguistically accurate and pragmatically appropriate utterances; pragmatically appropriate but linguistically inaccurate utterances; pragmatically inappropriate but linguistically accurate utterances; and linguistically inaccurate and pragmatically inappropriate utterances. Prior to the study, the recognition test was pretested and its reliability was shown to be 0.92.

The perception questionnaire measured Iranian EFL learners' perceptions concerning the nature of language. To this end, a 22 item questionnaire was constructed. It involved items addressing the nature of language such as the importance of linguistic skills for appropriate interactions, the significance of politeness, and so forth. Although a directly relevant questionnaire was not found in the literature, attitude questionnaires or the questionnaires of students and teachers' belief about language and language learning (e.g., Cid, Granena & Tragant, 2009; Clemente, 2001) were informative to construct the items in the questionnaire. To ensure that all participants understood the items, the researchers translated the questionnaire into Persian. Both the questionnaire and its translation were reviewed by two experienced academics and their comments were used to modify the content and wordings of the questionnaire. Finally, the instrument was pretested and its Cronbach a reliability was estimated at 0.78.

3.3. Target Requestive Downgraders

In line with earlier baseline studies and the data collected from the American native speakers of English, syntactic downgraders (e.g., I am/was wondering...); clausal downgraders (e.g., I would appreciate it if...) and lexical downgraders (e.g., can you possibly.) were used for [±/-power, +social distance, + imposition] combination of sociolinguistic variables. For [±/+power, -social distance, - imposition] combination, lexical internal downgraders (e.g., do you think. would you mind.) were used.

3.4. Instructional Treatments

To implement the pragmalinguistic recast in the classroom, the researchers utilized Fukuya and Hill's (2006)

framework. When a learner made an inappropriate request regarding the contextual variables in the scenarios, the teacher only provided the recast on the appropriacy of the request. Similarly, when a learner made an appropriate request in an inaccurate linguistic form, the teacher only provided the recast on the linguistic accuracy of the request. To make the optimal use of the class time, the participants received two scenarios in line with the embedded sociolinguistic variables. Participants were firstly required to read the scenarios and ask any questions regarding the vocabulary and sentential meaning. Then, the researchers paired them up to construct a dialog within which they were required to make a request in line with the sociolinguistic variables. After the participants constructed the dialogs, the teacher asked them to act them out in front of the class. After some repeat performances, the teacher asked students from different groups to form a new pair and perform the dialog spontaneously. While the learners were acting the dialog, the researcher operationalized the pragmalinguistic recast through repeating the conventional part of an inappropriate or inaccurate request in rising tone and providing the appropriate or accurate from.

DIG tasks not only result in an explicit attention to form (Ellis, 2003) but also provide opportunities for collaborative learning and production on the part of the learners (Doughty & William, 1998). Therefore, students with low proficiency level were paired with more proficient ones in this study. At the beginning of the class, the teacher read a request letter suited for the included variables (see the instrument) and the students were asked to listen and take notes. Each pair discussed, shared their ideas and wrote a similar request letter for the situation which the teacher introduced in the class. In the next phase, the teacher randomly asked some of the groups to read their letters. While the students were reading their letters, the teacher tried to make some comments on the linguistic accuracy of their letters and then wrote the requestive downgrader forms used by the learners on the board. In this stage, the learners were given some time to reflect on their own and other groups' requestive forms, compare the forms and finally, with the help of the teacher, decide the most appropriate and accurate requestive form. The same procedures were repeated for the requestive form from another combination. In the last phase, the teacher explicitly drew learners' attention to different requestive forms and explained the sociolinguistic variables such as power, social distance and the size of imposition governing the choice of the requestive form for each situation.

3.5. Procedure

Following Ary, Jacob, and Razavieh (1996), this research employed randomized matched subjects pre-test/posttest control group for the study. Prior to the experimental study, the OPT was administered to Iranian EFL learners to ensure the homogeneity of the participants. Based on their scores, the participating learners were matched in two groups and the groups were randomly assigned to different experimental conditions. Due to the long new year holiday in Iran, the participants took part in pretests about 6 weeks after the administration of the proficiency test. The production test lasting about 60 minutes was administered on the first day and the recognition test, taking about 70 minutes, was administered on the second day. This order withheld learners form carrying any clues to the second test. A week after the pretests, the treatments were offered in eight sessions over 7 weeks. Right after the treatment, immediate posttests with the same procedure and order of test presentations as the pretests were administered to the participating learners. Delayed posttests were similarly held 4 weeks after the treatment.

4. Results

Prior to the study, the researchers matched participants in the experimental groups based on their OPT scores. Table 1 illustrates no significant differences between experimental groups on the OPT, T (58) = .008; P =0.993.

Table 1.T-Test Results Showing the Homogeneity of Participants on OPT

_Leven's Test_T-Test for Equality of Means_

Measures_F P_T Df P MD

OPT_.127 .723 .008 58 .993 .033

Note: *P<.05; MD=Mean Differences

Findings in Table 2 reveal the mean score for the participants in the recast and DIG tasks on different pragmatic measures. Based on the results in Table 2, the effects of treatment seem to have resulted in the largest mean differences on the recognition and perception measures. For the same measures, participants' mean scores are almost the same in the delayed posttest. For the production measure, the participants' mean scores in both groups are almost

similar in the pretest, immediate (i.e., the effect of treatment) and the delayed posttest (i.e., the effect of time).

Table 2. Participants' Mean Score on pragmatic Measures

Measure Inst. Tasks N Pretest Treatment Time

DIG 30 67.70 75.43 72.16

Perception Recast 30 64.80 71.16 72.16

DIG 30 27.80 44.03 39.6

Recognition Recast 30 28.96 38.03 36.5

DIG 30 12.30 26.90 26.10

Production Recast 30 12.36 25.56 25.20

Findings in Table 3 reveal that the effects of treatment and time were not significant on the perception and production measures. For the recognition measure, however, the effects of treatment were significant between the participants in both groups. Based on the mean scores in Table 2, participants in the DIG task outperformed those in the recast condition. The effects of time, however, were not significant on the recognition measure between the participants in both groups. This means that participants in the DIG task could not maintain the positive effects of treatment on the recognition measure in the delayed posttest.

Table 3. Univariate Test Showing the Effects of Treatment on Pragmatic Measures

Source Measure Df MS F P

Pre -test Perception 1 126.1 1.78 0.18

Recognition 1 20.41 0.31 0.58

Production 1 .067 .003 .95

Treatment Perception 1 273 2.26 0.13

Recognition 1 540 4.04 0.04

Production 1 26.66 .584 .44

Time Perception 1 3.26 .025 0.87

Recognition 1 144 1.03 .31

Production 1 12.15 .289 .59

Note. *P<.05; MD=mean difference; MS=mean score; df=degree of freedom;

To examine whether the effects of treatment and time were significant on pragmatic measures within each group, the researchers employed the doubly multivariate repeated measure. According to the multivariate test, the effects of 'treatment and time' in the aggregate were significant on all dependant variables in average, F (6) =48.47, P =.000. Although the MANOVA results were revealing, the researchers employed the univariate test to explore the effects of 'treatment and time' in the aggregate on separate measures.

Table 4. The Univariate Test Results on the Pragmatic Measures

Source Measure df MS F P

Perception 1.79 982.62 24.66 .000*

'Treatment & Time' Recognition 1.74 3014.1 53.52 .000*

Production 1.96 3774.5 201.16 .000*

'Treatment & Time' Perception 1.79 99.02 2.48 .94

X Recognition 1.74 223.9 3.97 .027*

Group Production 1.96 7.82 .418 .656

Note: *P<.05;df=degree of freedom; MD = mean differences Results in Table 4 reveal that the effects of 'treatment and time' in the aggregate were significant on all pragmatic measures. This table also displays a significant interaction between the 'grouping factor' and the effects

of 'treatment and time' on the recognition test. To separate the effect of treatment from that of time on pragmatic measures, the researchers employed tests of within subject contrasts. Findings in Table 5 show that the effects of treatment were significant on all measures. It is also shown that the effect of time was only significant on the recognition measure. The significant interactions between the effects of the 'treatment and grouping factor' on the recognition measure and the effects of 'time and grouping factor' on the perception measure are also illuminating.

Table 5. Within Subject Contrast Results on the Effect of Treatment and Time on Pragmatic Measures

TREATMENT TIME

Pretest to Immediate Posttest Immediate to Delayed Posttest

Source Measure

MS df F P MS Df F P

Main Perception 2982.1 1 48.6 .000* 48.60 1 1.01 .317

Effect Recognition 9601.1 1 84.2 .000* 534.01 1 8.84 .004*

Production 11592. 1 278 .000* 20.41 1 .579 .450

Main Perception 28.01 1 .343 .561 336.06 1 7.04 .01*

Effect Recognition 770.41 1 6.75 .012* 126.15 1 2.09 .154

X Production 29.40 1 .705 .404 2.81 1 .08 .778

Group_

Note: *P<.05;MS=Mean Score; df= degree of freedom

In the final analysis, the researchers carried out a pair-wise comparison to specifically investigate the effects of treatment and time within each experimental group on different pragmatic measures. The 'Estimated Marginal Mean Plot' was also utilized to depict the effects of the instructional conditions on each measure.

Table 6. Bonferroni Pair-wise Comparison on the Pragmatic Measures

TREATMENT TIME

Pretest Immediate Delayed

Measure Group MD P MD P MD P

Perception Recast Pretest Immediate Delayed 6.36* 7.83* .002 .001 -6.36* 1.46 .002 .687 -7.83* -1.46 .001 .687

DIG Pretest Immediate Delayed 7.73* 4.46* .000 .021 -7.73* -3.26 .000 .060 -4.46* 3.26 .021 .060

Recast Pretest Immediate Delayed 9.06* 7.53* .000 .001 -9.06* -1.53 .000 .826 -7.53* 1.53 .001 .826

Recognition DIG Pretest Immediate Delayed 16.23* 11.80* .000 .000 -16.23* -4.43* .000 .015 -11.8* 4.43* .000 .015

Recast Pretest Immediate Delayed 13.20* -12.8* .000 .000 -13.20* -.367 .000 1.00 -12.8* .367 .000 1.00

Production DIG Pretest Immediate Delayed 14.6* 13.8* .000 .000 -14.6* -.800 .000 1.00 -13.8* .800 .000 .100

P*<.05; Note: MD=Mean Difference

Findings in Table 6 illuminate that participants in both tasks performed significantly better on the perception measure in the immediate and delayed posttests than they did in their pretest. Analyses reveal that the effect of time

was not significant on this measure for either group. This means that both groups maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest. While mean plot in Figure 1 verifies a significant 'time by group' interaction for the learners in the DIG task, the effect of time was observed to have only a tendency to be significant in Table 6.

75.0072.5070.0067.5065.00-

Figure 1. Mean Plot for the Perception Measure

According to analyses in Table 6, the effects of treatment were significant on the recognition measure for both groups. Mean plot in Figure 2 also testifies to the significant 'treatment by group' interaction observed in Table 5. While the participants in the DIG task had a lower mean in the pretest they outperformed the participants in the recast condition in the immediate posttest. Results in Table 6 indicate that the effect of time was significant on the recognition measure for the participants in the DIG task. This means that the participants in this task, unlike those in the recast condition, could not maintain the positive effects of treatment on this measure.

45.0040.00" 35.0030.0025.00

Figure 2. Mean Plot for the Recognition Measure Figure 3. Mean Plot for the Production Measure

Findings in Table 6 reveal that the effects of treatment were significant on the production measure for both groups. This means that participants in both instructional conditions performed significantly better in the immediate posttest than the pretest. It is also demonstrated that the effect of time was not significant. That is, participants in both tasks maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest.

—i-1-1—

Pretest Immediate Delayed

jOJOO-

Pretest m i i ih iii Delayed Pretest IiiiimILif Delayed

4.1. Discussion

Findings of the study reveal that the effects of treatment were effective between the participants in both groups. The significantly better performance of the participants in the DIG task could be explained in the light of the test structure and the nature of the task. The test required learners not only to select the best choice of the provided scenarios but to explain why they had not selected other choices. This means that behind the simple recognition, learners had to analyze, judge and identify the appropriacy and accuracy of each choice. Therefore, the participants in the DIG task who had both an opportunity for production and their attention was explicitly drawn to the target features gave a better performance on this measure than those in the recast condition giving an implicit focus to an oral task, role play.

The results of the study also reveal that both the DIG task and recast feedback were effective in the development of learners' pragmatic ability from the pretest to the immediate posttest. This means that both the recast feedback provided during the role play task and the DIG promoting an explicit focus on a written task are effective for learners to process the target features and improve their pragmatic ability. The results for the delayed posttest (i.e., the effect of time) were, however, a little mixed, which require explanation and discussion.

For the perception measure, although participants in both groups maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest, the participants in the DIG task had a tendency to fall significantly to a lower level in the delayed posttest. Participants in the same task also significantly fell to a lower level in the delayed posttest on the recognition measure. This fall in the delayed posttest can be explained from different perspectives. First, although participants in the DIG as an output-based task had an explicit awareness of the target features, the interaction, production and recast feedback inherent in the role play task were more effective for learners to maintain the positive effects of treatment in the delayed posttest. Second, the opportunity for production as in the DIG task by itself is not as influential as the combination of interaction and production in the role play task. Third, although highly effective, the explicit teaching of target features might be short lived if it is not reinforced by further exposure. Last, the steep fall of the learners in the DIG might be attributed to the extraneous factors. Since the same fall was observed for the same learners on the recognition test, the first two explanations might be tenable.

Unlike the recognition and perception measures, findings on the production measure demonstrated that participants in both groups maintained the positive effects of the treatment in the delayed posttest. With regard to Baily's (1996) compatibility of the testing and teaching promoting beneficial washback, it can be proposed that since both the DIG and role play tasks involve the production of the target features, they can be beneficial to EFL learners in the long run when it comes to their performance on the production measure.

Although past studies have not compared the effects of written and oral output based tasks on the development of learners' pragmatic ability, findings of this study, similar to former studies (e.g., Ahmadi, et. al., 2011; Takahashi, 2001; Takimoto, 2006, 2009), revealed the privilege of explicit instruction. In line with Fukuya and Hill (2006), the current study also reported the benefits of administering the recast feedback during the role play task. Therefore, it might be stated that output-based tasks raising learners' awareness of the target features either implicitly or explicitly can be effective in the improvement of learners' pragmatic ability.

5. Conclusion

As stated earlier, since previous studies have not compared the effects of the explicit output-based and implicit output-based tasks on learners' pragmatic competence, the justification and discussion here are speculative; therefore, similar studies may more firmly assert the role of input-based and output-based tasks in pragmatics. The results not only confirm the teachability of the pragmatic features but also reveal the applicability of the focused tasks and activities in the realm of pragmatics; therefore, in EFL contexts where exposure to the second language and culture is limited, formal instruction can help EFL learners enhance their pragmatic competence. The current research also shows when the learners have opportunity for the production both implicit and explicit output-based task can be effective. This conclusion can provide some grounds for further research. Future studies can investigate the efficacy of input-based and output-based tasks in the improvement of EFL learners' pragmatic ability when their attention to target features is implicitly raised. In line with this conclusion, a pedagogical implication can be

presented to teachers. For the perception and recognition measures, a better performance of the participants in the DIG and the recast condition respectively in the immediate and delayed posttests shows that the combination of both tasks in language classes may lead to a better result. Finally, in addition to EFL learners' pragmalinguistic competence, their sociopragmatic ability should also be paid some heed. The gap in learners' perceptions before and after the treatment in the present study can show teachers the necessity for raising learners' awareness of cross cultural differences and non-linguistic factors in the process of L2 acquisition.

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