Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

A Closer Look at Noticing Hypothesis and Focus on Form: An Overview

Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

A Closer Look at Noticing Hypothesis and Focus on Form: An Overview

Article excerpt


The teaching of language forms especially grammatical and linguistic forms has long occupied a sine qua non role in language classes and course syllabi. The emphasis on the teaching of form has sometimes emerged as the deductive instruction of grammatical structures for example, grammar translation method and sometimes has incarnated as the inductive instruction of grammar and structures for instance, Audio-lingual method (see Richards & Rodgers, 2002). The point in teaching grammar is not whether to teach it or not, but the question is how to teach it from among a wide range of pedagogical options open to language practitioners (see, e.g. Ellis, 1997., Celce- Murcia, 1991). In the last two decades the auspicious paradigm of focus on form and especially Scmidtt.s noticing hypothesis (Schmidtt, 1995) have gradually superseded the former methods of grammar teaching. The present article is an attempt to take a closer look on these two models and to consider some of their most prominent features and contributions in the last two decades.

Keywords: Noticing, Focus on form, Consciousness raising, Awareness, Form

1. Introduction

Schmidtt (1995) maintains that for better second language development, learners have to notice the linguistic features in the input. Noticing induces an awareness of the target language features and this awareness in time brings about the acquisition of these features. The issue of noticing is hotly disputed with regard to the amount and depth of noticing which should take place and its subsequent effects on acquisition. Schmidtt (1994) claims that input alone is not sufficient for language acquisition, what is more important is the learners' intake out of the offered input, noticing and awareness of linguistic features induce higher amounts of intake out of the presented input. While Gass (2003) claim that awareness of form alone does not cause its acquisition without the formulation of explicit rules and how these rules operate regarding the noticed form, other studies (Rosa and Leow, 2004., Leow, 1997) testify that awareness of linguistic form alone augments the amount of intake by the learner and facilitates the acquisition of linguistic or grammatical forms on spot or in subsequent future input.

Noticing is incorporated within a focus on form (FOF) framework, simply put, noticing or any other approach which makes learners pay attention to linguistic or grammatical form while engaged in meaning centered communicative activities is deemed a FOF practice. Input enhancement, input enrichment, input flooding, consciousness raising and noticing can be all considered as the offsprings of FOF approach to language instruction.

Before the advent of Form focused instruction language teaching pundits were busy stressing indirect, implicit treatment of form within a message focused, content-based, meaning- centered and communicative language teaching framework. Direct explicit attention to linguistic and grammatical form was deemed unnecessary and sometimes detrimental to learners' mushrooming inter-language systems, however, in the last two decades grammar has been rehabilitated (e.g. doughty and Williams, 1998a), it is considered an essential, inseparable and integral part of language teaching, quite indispensible to the instruction of a foreign language.

There exist two major types of form-focused instruction: focus on formS (FOFs) and FOF. FOFs, the predecessor of FOF is characterized by a structuralist, synthetic approach to language teaching, where the primary focus of classroom activity is on linguistic forms rather than the meanings they convey (Burgess and Etherington, 2002) . FOFs is, in other words, a pre-planned selection of particular linguistic and grammatical forms and direct and explicit treatment of those forms in classroom. It is in layman terms, 'a pre-selection of specific features based on a linguistic syllabus and intensive and systematic treatment of those features, that is, the primary focus of attention is on the form that is being taught. …

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