Professor ZhaoHong Han and TC Alumna Dr. Monika Ekiert Organize Colloquium at AAAL 2011

| February 28, 2011

Conference: THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR APPLIED LINGUISTICS ANNUAL CONFERENCE (Chicago, March 26-29, 2011)

Colloquium Title: Beyond a Decade of Focus on Form (1998-2008): Giving Learner Meaning Its Proper Place

Organizers: ZhaoHong Han and Monika Ekiert+

Other panelists: Adrienne Wai Man Lew, Ji-Yung Jung, Yayuan (Anny) Sun, Eun-Young Kang,  Mi-Sun Park, Shaoyan Qi

Abstract

This colloquium reviews a decade of focus on form (FONF) research. Panelists report findings from reviewing seven journals (Applied Linguistics, Modern Language Journal, Language Awareness, Language Learning, Language Teaching Research, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, TESOL Quarterly). A strong appeal is made for giving attention to learner meaning in FONF research.

ABSTRACT of individual papers

The role of learners’ intended meaning is rarely considered in second language acquisition (SLA) research, and this is particularly true of focus-on -form studies. However, meaning, as several strands of research have indicated, can be a recalcitrant learning obstacle.  Corrective feedback studies, for example, have revealed that learners can be selectively susceptible to explicit and/or implicit feedback, due, however, not to lack of recognition and production of the form per se but, rather, to lack of grasp of its meaning and function. Studies on SLA ultimate attainment have also established that what defies complete acquisition is not form, but meaning and function.

The four papers presented in this colloquium all examine the meaning issue, through the lens of focus-on-form studies. For ease of comparison, they assume the same format, while each focuses on the relevant studies published in one or two of the following journals: Applied Linguistics, Modern Language Journal, Language Awareness, Language Learning, Language Teaching Research, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, and TESOL Quarterly. For each presentation, the presenters begin with a quantitative and/or qualitative overview of the studies reviewed, providing such types of information as the number of studies included in the review, sampling criteria, research questions, participants, types of design (experimental and/or observational), linguistic target (single or multiple), procedure, and general findings. They then zero in on the focus-on-form treatment and measurement process, pinpointing and illustrating the intended focus of focus on form in the studies and discussing the problems that may arise from an exclusive focus on formal accuracy. Finally, each presentation closes with an overall evaluation of the status of learners’ intended meaning in the focus-on-form studies reviewed.

These presentations will be preceded, and followed, by an introduction and discussion respectively providing the theoretical background and highlighting acquisitional consequences from an overlook of learner meaning.