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The Effects of Processing Instruction on the Acquisition of English Simple Past Tense

by Professor Alessandro Benati, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom

Date                  8 September 2015
Time                  4:00pm-5:30pm
Venue                AG434
Medium             English


This study presented in this paper investigates the effects of Processing Instruction on two different age groups and the role that cognitive task demands play in the results generated by Processing Instruction. School-age children and adult native speakers of German learning English as a foreign language constituted the population of this empirical research. The factor “cognitive task demands” has not been previously investigated within the Processing Instruction research framework.

The present study measured whether two different age groups would equally benefit from Processing Instruction in altering their reliance on lexical temporal indicators and redirecting their attention to verb forms to get meaning. The ability for learners to interpret and produce English past simple tense marking was measured.

The main findings from this study indicate that Processing Instruction is an effective instructional treatment in helping school-age children and adult L2 learners to make accurate form-meaning connections. The positive effects of instruction were maintained over the delayed post-test for both age groups who made similar gains on the immediate post-test (first interpretation and production task). The results from the second (cognitively more complex) sentence-level interpretation task retained the positive effects of instruction over time. The difference in gains between the two age groups on the second sentence-level interpretation task can be explained in terms of cognitive processing load.

About the speaker

Alessandro Benati is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Second Language Studies and Director of CAROLE at the University of Greenwich (UK). He is author and co-author of several monographs, chapters and journal articles in the area of second language learning and teaching.


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