Chapter 11. Implications of the Developmental Stages of Language Acquisition for Classroom Teaching

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In the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), there has been an ongoing debate about the role of instruction between: (1) proponents of strong interface, who are those advocating the position that explicit instruction can lead to acquisition, as supported by advocates of the Grammar-Translation Method (GTM); (2) proponents of no interface, who are those advocating the position that instruction does not lead to acquisition and that input alone through implicit techniques is sufficient; and (3) proponents of weak interface, who are those leaning towards the middle, believing that instruction can lead to acquisition only if it is geared towards the next developmental stage that the learner is ready for, as detailed in the Teachability Hypothesis of Processability Theory (PT). The Teachability Hypothesis states that instruction is most effective when it reflects the stage just beyond the learners’ current interlanguage. The current study is a mixed-method experiment which provided instruction to three English classes at a Chinese university in Macau.Instruction was explicit, implicit, or developmentally moderated. The results show that students in the developmentally-moderated group outperformed their counterparts in the explicit and the implicit groups. This finding lends support to the weak-interface hypothesis.


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