Studies in Second Language Acquisition

ATTENTION WHEN?: An Investigation of the Ordering Effect of Input and Interaction

Susan M.  Gass  a1 c1 and María José Alvarez  Torres  a1
a1 Michigan State University

Article author query
gass sm   [Google Scholar] 
torres mja   [Google Scholar] 


This paper investigates the effects of input and interaction as separate entities and in combination. We further investigate these effects as a function of different language areas. One hundred two learners of L2 Spanish were provided with input on (a) Spanish gender agreement (noun + adjective), (b) estar + location, and (c) seven vocabulary items. There were four conditions: (a) material focused solely on input, (b) material focused solely on interaction, (c) input-focused material followed by interaction, and (d) interaction-focused material followed by input. A control group completed a pretest and posttest. In general, greatest improvement from pretest to posttest for all conditions was noted for vocabulary. Learners exposed to input and interaction in combination showed greater improvement than those in conditions with only input or only interaction. In the two grammatical areas (gender agreement and estar + location), learners who received interaction followed by input showed greatest improvement. We consider issues such as complexity and abstractness to account for the findings of differential effects on language areas. a

(Received April 26 2004)

c1 Susan Gass, English Language Center, A-714 Wells Hall, Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI 48824; e-mail:


a Funding for this project was provided by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the Center for Language Education and Research at Michigan State University (P229A990012 and P229A020001). We would like to thank George Sirbu and Pingping Ni for help with the statistics of this study. We are also grateful to the anonymous SSLA reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. All errors remain our own.