Interaction between Recasts and Task Planning

Natalia Romanova, University of Maryland, College Park

In the past several years, a number of studies have investigated the impact of corrective recast on L2 acquisition. However, the efficacy of recasts can be constrained by learners’ internal, external and task design and implementation variables (Long, forthcoming; Robinson, 2001; 2003). The present study seeks to identify what type of planning is most favorable for noticing recasts on Russian verbal morphology (in verbs belonging to a low type frequency unproductive –a- class) provided to the L2 learners during a picture-description task in the context of online interaction with researcher.

Following Yuan and Ellis (2003), planning is operationalized at three levels: (a) no-planning (NP), (b) pre-task planning (PP) and (c) online planning (OP) conditions. All the groups received implicit negative feedback on their erroneous use of the –a- verbs present tense forms, but not on other types of errors. A pre-test and a post-test were employed to compare the effect of recasts.

In the NP condition, participants were required to perform the task immediately after studying the pictures for 0.5 minutes, and had to complete the task within a limited time (30 minutes). In the PP condition, participants were given 10 minutes to plan their performance of the task, but were also under pressure to complete the task within a limited time (30 minutes). As NP planners, online planners were allowed to see the picture for just 0.5 minutes before beginning to carry out the task, but they were given unlimited time to formulate and monitor their speech as they performed the task.

Univariate ANOVA showed that the difference in accuracy between the three groups on the pre-test was not significant, however the difference reached statistical significance on the post-test (p=.043 between the NP and PP groups, p=.001 between OP and PP, and p=.011 between the NP and the OP groups), with the online planning group outperforming the other two groups on both real and novel verbs, demonstrating the effectiveness of written recasts for both item and pattern learning (the planning condition effect was significant at p=.001 level).

Results of the study suggest that online planning is indeed the optimal psycholinguistic environment condition for recasts to be noticed and learned from.

Long, M. H. (forthcoming). Recasts: the story thus far. In M. H. Long (Ed.), Problems in SLA. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Robinson, P. (2001). Task complexity, cognitive resources, and syllabus design: a triadic framework for investigating task influences on SLA. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 287-318). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Robinson, P. (2003). Attention and memory during SLA. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 631-678). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Yuan, F. and Ellis, R. (2003). The effects of pre-task planning and on-line planning on fluency, complexity and accuracy in L2 monologic oral production. Applied Linguistics 24: 1-27.