Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


The project reported in this paper aims to test the concept of learner developmental readiness’ and its pedagogic effectiveness in the teaching of foreign language grammar. It focuses on the teaching of English as a second language (ESL) in a formal classroom context. The aim is to ascertain whether a specific teaching order based on the concept of developmental readiness, can enhance learning outcomes in foreign language classrooms. The main theoretical approach used is the Teachability Hypothesis articulated in Pienemann’s (1998) Processability Theory (PT), which “predicts that stages of acquisition cannot be skipped through formal instruction and that instruction will be beneficial if it focuses on structures from ‘the next stage’” (Pienemann, 1998, p. 13). Past teachability studies (e.g. Boss, 1996; Dyson, 1996; Ellis, 1989; Pienemann, 1984; Spada& Lightbown, 1999) have employed predicted order testing. However in this study subjects were exposed to English syntax structures either in the predicted or in the reversed orders outlined under PT. The findings of this study show that learners exposed to instruction in accordance with the developmental order predicted in PT produce the target language (TL) structures with a higher grammatical accuracy than those exposed to the reversed order. This suggests that instruction is more beneficial, in relation to grammatical accuracy, when it focuses on the TL structures in a developmentally implicational manner.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Boss, B.
    (1996) German grammar for beginners – the teachability hypothesis and its relevance to the classroom. In C. Arbones Sola , J. Rolin-Ianziti & R. Sussex (Eds.) Proceedings of the Conference on “Who’s afraid of teaching grammar?”; Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 1 (pp.93–103). Brisbane: Centre for Language Teaching and Research, University of Queensland.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Doughty, C. & Williams, J.
    (Eds.) (1998) Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Dyson, B.
    (1996) The debate on form-focussed instruction: a teacher’s perspective. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 19 (2), 59–78. doi: 10.1075/aral.19.2.04dys
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aral.19.2.04dys [Google Scholar]
  4. Ellis, R.
    (1989) Are classroom and naturalistic acquisition the same? A study of the classroom acquisition of German word order rules. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 11, 303–28. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100008159
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100008159 [Google Scholar]
  5. (1994) The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Johnston, M.
    (1995) Stages of the acquisition of Spanish as a second language. Australian Studies in Language Acquisition, 4, 1–35.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Kempen, G. & Hoenkamp, E.
    (1987) An incremental procedural grammar for sentence formulation. Cognitive Science, 11, 201–258. doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog1102_5
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15516709cog1102_5 [Google Scholar]
  8. Kramsch, C.
    (2000) Second language acquisition, applied linguistics, and the teaching of foreign language. The Modern Language Journal, 84 (3), 311–326. doi: 10.1111/0026‑7902.00071
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0026-7902.00071 [Google Scholar]
  9. Levelt, W. J. M.
    (1989) Speaking: from interaction to articulation. Cambridge (Mass): MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Lightbown, P.M.
    (1985) Great expectations: second language acquisition research and classroom teaching. Applied Linguistics, 6 (2), 173–89. doi: 10.1093/applin/6.2.173
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/6.2.173 [Google Scholar]
  11. (2000) Classroom SLA research and second language teaching. Applied Linguistics, 21 (4), 431–462. doi: 10.1093/applin/21.4.431
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/21.4.431 [Google Scholar]
  12. Long, M. & Robinson, R.
    (1998) Focus on form: theory, research and practice. In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.) Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition (pp.15–41). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Macroy, G.
    (2000) Learning to teach grammar in the modern foreign languages classroom. Research in Education, 64, 1–11. doi: 10.7227/RIE.64.1
    https://doi.org/10.7227/RIE.64.1 [Google Scholar]
  14. Mansouri, F.
    (1999) Interlanguage syntax in Arabic as a second language: a processability theory approach. Languages and Linguistics, 4, 45–72.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. (2000) Grammatical markedness and information processing in the acquisition of Arabic as a second language. Munchen (Germany): Lincom Europa Academic Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Mitchell, R.
    (2000) Applied linguistics and evidence-based classroom practice: the case of foreign language grammar pedagogy. Applied Linguistics, 21 (3), 281–303. doi: 10.1093/applin/21.3.281
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/21.3.281 [Google Scholar]
  17. Pienemann, M.
    (1984) Psychological constraints on the teachability of languages. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 6 (2), 186–214. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100005015
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100005015 [Google Scholar]
  18. (1995) Second language acquisition: a first introduction. University of Western Sydney: National Language & Literacy Institute of Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. (1998) Language processing and second language development: processability theory. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/sibil.15
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sibil.15 [Google Scholar]
  20. Salameh, E.K. , Hakansson, G. & Nettelbladt, U.
    (1996) The acquisition of Swedish as a second language in a group of Arabic-speaking pre-school children: word order patterns and phrasal morphology. Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, 21 (3–4), 163–170. doi: 10.3109/14015439609098885
    https://doi.org/10.3109/14015439609098885 [Google Scholar]
  21. Spada, N. & Lightbown, P.M.
    (1999) Instruction, first language influence and developmental readiness in second language acquisition. Modern Languages Journal, 83 (1), 1–22. doi: 10.1111/0026‑7902.00002
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0026-7902.00002 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error