Dr Rosemary Erlam at UCL for Applied Linguistics Research Seminar Series

UCL IoE Centre for Applied Linguistics Research Seminar Series

The relationship between the opportunity to make ‘form-meaning connections’ and the learning of lexical and grammatical items.

Dr. Rosemary Erlam, University of Auckland
Wednesday 10 October, 5:30-6:30 pm, Jeffery Hall, 20 Bedford Way

Language learners find it difficult to pay attention to language form and to meaning at the same time (Skehan, 1998, 2012). However, it is important for language learning that learners are able to make associations between particular linguistic items and the meaning that these encode. Researchers believe (e.g., VanPatten, 1996; VanPatten, Williams & Rott, 2004) therefore that it is important to provide learners with tasks where they are encouraged to make form-meaning connections. For example, if a learner is asked to choose the correct picture below that corresponds with the sentence, ‘I see the girls’, they have to associate ‘S’ with the meaning ‘more than one’ in order to choose correctly (unless they guess!). In other words, they have to make a form-meaning connection.

In this presentation, I investigate the relationship between the opportunities given learners to make form-meaning connections and the learning gains they make. I present a study where beginner language learners completed a series of 11 focused tasks over 3 lessons which aimed to have them make form-meaning connections for target lexical and grammatical items. They received no explicit grammatical instruction. The tasks were taught by their classroom teacher during their normal language programme. An examination of the transcripts of the instruction allowed for information to be collected about the number of times that students were required to make form-meaning connections for each of the target items. Evidence of their learning on both measures of comprehension and production is presented, as evidence of the relationship between form-meaning connections (FMCs) and learning gains made.


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