Task-based research in SLA has yielded evidence that when working on two-way information gap tasks, learners can negotiate to draw each other's attention to L2 grammatical and lexical forms. This study aimed to determine whether English L2 learners would also be able to negotiate for phonological forms when working on such tasks. Of particular interest were their use of corrective feedback, modified output, and other processes believed to promote attention during negotiation. The study addressed the following research questions: (1) When working together on interactive pronunciation tasks, do NNSs draw each other's attention to a targeted phonological form in ways generally understood to facilitate SLA? I.e., (1a) Do they provide each other with corrective feedback on the target form? (1b) Do they modify their production of the target form? (2) If NNSs do provide each other with feedback that focuses on the target form, are there specific ways in which they do so? (3) If NNSs do modify their target form production, do the modifications result in more targetlike pronunciation? To answer these questions, a two-way, interactive map task was used, with the phonological form theta (/theta/) preselected as a target. The task design balanced inherent communicative value and target form essentialness in order to maximize the need to negotiate the target form. The task was integrated into an existing curriculum for three intact, intermediate, L2 pronunciation classes. Participants completed and recorded the task during a weekly class meeting in the language laboratory. Mixed-L1 dyads were formed when possible to raise the potential for the need to negotiate. Negotiations pertaining to the target form were coded for corrective feedback and modified pronunciation, and interceder reliability was established at 91.3%. Data revealed that participants frequently provided each other with a variety of corrective feedback types, and produced more-targetlike modifications nearly twice as often as less-targetlike modifications. Additional strategies for drawing interlocutors' attention to form and the influence of the task design were also explored. Findings of NNSs' ability to push each other toward more targetlike control provided evidence of steps in adult learners' L2 phonological development.
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The Author: Laura Sicola, Ph.D., received her doctorate in educational linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (USA). She has taught bilingual elementary school in Los Angeles, high school EFL in Nagoya (Japan), and university-level ESL at the University of Pennsylvania where she currently lectures on approaches and methods in TESOL.
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