n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Focussing on form in the classroom




Current theories of second language acquisition emphasise the importance of learners' attending consciously to form. Similarly, current discussions of communicative language pedagogy stress the need for classroom language learners to focus on form as well as meaning. The study reported in this article is intended to contribute to both theory and practice. It examines the different ways in which teachers and students achieve a 'focus-on-form' (i.e. attend to linguistic form in the context of activity that is primarily message-oriented). Based on an analysis of 12 hours of teaching English in a private language school, a coding system is developed to account for the general characteristics of 'focus-onform episodes' (FFEs). The system is then used to provide an account of focus-on-form in the classrooms studied, revealing that nearly half of the total FFEs were proactive rather than reactive and that more than half involved negotiating form rather than negotiating meaning (i.e. they were not triggered by any communicative problem). The paper concludes with proposals for future research.


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