Does Second Language Instruction Make a Difference? A Review of Research

Long, Michael H.
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Does second language instruction promote second language acquisition? Some studies conclude that instruction does not help (or even that it is counter-productive); others find it beneficial. The picture becomes clearer if two distinctions are made. First, researchers may address one or both of two issues: the absolute effect of instruction, on the one hand, and on the other, its relacive utility. Second, studies need to be sub-classified according to whether or not the comparisons they make involve controlling for the total amount of instruction, exposure, or instruction plus exposure, i.e. for the total opportunity to acquire the second language. Observing these distinctions, a review of research findings concludes that there is considerable (although not overwhelming) evidence that instruction is beneficiaL (1) for children as well as adults, (2) for beginning, intermediate and advanced students, (3) on integrative as well as discrete-point tests, and (4) in acquisition-rich as well as acquisition-poor environments. These findings have implications for theories of second language acquisition, such as Krashen's Monitor Theory, which make predictions about second language acquisition with and without instruction, and also for those involved in educational administrationl program design and classroom teaching.
second language instruction, acquisition of second language, classroom teaching, social and learning
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