Frequency, Salience and Form-Meaning Mapping Transparency as Modulating Factors for EI Effectiveness (Goretti Prieto Botana & Carolina Castillo Larrea, University of Southern California, United States)
Goretti Prieto Botana & Carolina Castillo Larrea, University of Southern California, United States
Title: Frequency, Salience and Form-Meaning Mapping Transparency as Modulating Factors for EI Effectiveness
keywords: Explicit instruction; Instructed Language Acquisition; Spanish
The role of explicit information (EI) has long been debated in second language acquisition. Numerous studies in the literature report null effects for EI, whereas just as many point to its facilitative potential (cf. Shintani 2015). Previous research varies on a number of levels, from target structure, to frequency of access and quality of EI. In an attempt to determine whether the nature of EI may explain the disparity in results, a pretest-posttest study was conducted to gauge the differential effects of four types of EI on the learning of two types of Spanish conditionals (real and hypothetical). 397 learners were randomly assigned to four different conditions: group 1 received EI in text form (n=76), group 2 received the same but with auditory support (n=72), group 3 received text and audio, plus enhancement (n=76), and, group 4 (n=100) received text, audio, enhancement and indexing (i.e., animations linking parts of EI to examples). A control group was added to obtain a baseline (n=73). While both target structures work identically, they each feature tenses that are different with respect to frequency and salience of their forms. In addition, while all experimental conditions received EI, form-meaning connections were increasingly more obvious in groups 2-4. Results from Grammaticality Judgment Tests indicate that for real conditionals, EI was not beneficial. For hypothetical conditionals, however, all groups exhibited statistically superior performance as compared to the control group. None of the experimental groups were different from one another but a higher effect size was recorded for the contrast between Group 4 (text+ audio+enhancement+indexing) and the control group. These findings suggest EI can indeed be effective, albeit salience and frequency of occurrence of the targeted forms may modulate that effect. Further, our data offers some indication that EI that further promotes form-meaning-mappings may have a greater impact.