Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Form-Focused Instruction and Lexical Development of Iranian Efl Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Form-Focused Instruction and Lexical Development of Iranian Efl Learners

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Lexical items are purported to be the building blocks of any language. L2 learners start learning their second language by assimilating vocabulary items. As such, they do not hesitate to recognize the significance of lexical items to which they are exposed. As stated by Meara (1980), L2 learners concede that they encounter immense difficulty with vocabulary even when progressing from the incipient stage of second language acquisition to an advanced grade in learning a second language. Language practitioners, likewise, are certain about the preponderance of vocabulary. In his study, Macaro (2003) has pinpointed that language teachers see vocabulary as a topic which calls for research to enhance the pedagogy and practice of learning vocabulary in their classrooms. Consequently, it may be hard to escape the contention that the role of learning L2 vocabulary is urgently recognized and in turn implications for teaching from substantial research are in great demand.

In this study, the development of vocabulary was examined within the pedagogical framework of form-focused instruction (FFI). It is an approach to achieving the integration of content and language by calling attention to language form in meaning-focused language teaching (Spada, 1997). A central principle underlying FFI is the claim that noticing language forms is crucial for language acquisition (Schmidt, 1990). In practice, FFI is implemented via a wide range of pedagogical options from the very implicit, with unobtrusive exposure to language form, to very explicit instruction encompassing metalinguistic explanations of grammar or vocabulary. The uniting feature is that both are aimed at integrating form with meaning. Several publications have recently appeared documenting the overall efficacy of FFI and it is widely admitted that instruction forging a link between form and meaning in instructed SLA is more advantageous than instruction that solely underlining meaning (Doughty & Williams, 1998; Ellis, 2001; Lyster, 2007; Norris & Ortega, 2000; Spada, 1997; Swain, 2000). Nevertheless, findings have been contradictory and a plethora of questions pertinent to FFI have merited attention. These include (though are not limited to) what types of FFI are most conducive to learning vocabulary; which linguistic forms can be learned best through FFI; and to what degree should focus on form be integrated with instruction in which meaning is the point of departure (Doughty & Williams, 1998; Ellis, 2001; Norris & Ortega, 2000; Spada, 1997; Spada & Lightbown, 2008; Williams, 2005).

Researchers and educators have developed the general interest for exploring the techniques that facilitate learning vocabulary of second language. One such technique that has recently caught the attention in the area of SLA research is digital games. In most countries, wide range of games can be used as a tool for learning. There are many games that can be applied by L2 teachers concerning how to improve the acquisition, such as alphabet game, puzzles, word guessing game, board game and so on. The Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) is one of the most effective games which facilitate learning L2 for children. Kirriemuir (2003) believes that computers have changed people's lives, and video games have been part of that revolution. The video-game phenomenon has recently caught the attention of researchers from varied disciplines (psychology and education) who have sought to utilize it as a tool for advancement and improvement. Most of the studies have resulted in positive and beneficial findings. Video games are another avenue for experimentation in a safe virtual environment.

2. Review of the Literature

Long (1991) introduced the term focus on form and used it to describe instruction whose main objective is to "overtly draw students' attention to linguistic elements as they arise incidentally in lessons whose overriding focus is on meaning" (p. …

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