Input enhancement and L2 grammatical development: What the research reveals

Leow, Ronald P.
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Heinle Cengage Learning
The role of input enhancement (IE; Sharwood Smith, 1991, 1993) in L2 grammatical development remains a controversial issue in the SLA field.Adding to the inconclusive findings is the broad definition of the term “input enhancement” found in the SLA literature and the various methodological approaches taken to its operationalization and measurement. On the one hand, some instructional strands of research appear to share Sharwood Smith’s broadest definition of input enhancement, which conflates the independent variable enhancement with other instructional independent variables. On the other hand, other strands of research methodologically tease out the variable enhancement and compare the effects of this variable to its absence on L2 development. This chapter examines these two substrands coexisting within the concept of input enhancement to provide a clearer picture of the role of input enhancement in L2 grammatical development. More specifically, the chapter critically assesses Sharwood Smith’s concept of input enhancement, which appears to have undergone a theoretical change from its original notion of consciousness- raising in relation to the role of awareness in his postulation and also a change from a product to a process perspective. It also critically evaluates separately the two substrands, placing a strong emphasis on the research methodologies employed in these studies in relation to their internal and external validities; it then compares the differences between these substrands. Finally, the chapter provides informed suggestions, based on the appropriate robustness of research findings, that teachers may wish to consider to understand and evaluate the potential contribution that input enhancement may have regarding learners’ L2 grammatical development.
Leow, R.P. (2008). Input enhancement and L2 grammatical development: What the research reveals. The American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of Foreign Languages Programs (AAUSC), 16-34.
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