Studies in Second Language Acquisition



A STUDY OF THE ROLE OF AWARENESS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE BEHAVIOR

(Aware versus Unaware Learners)


Ronald P. Leow a1c1
a1 Georgetown University

Abstract

This study is a quantitative and qualitative investigation of the effects of awareness, or the lack thereof, on 32 adult second or foreign language (L2) learners' subsequent intake and written production of targeted Spanish morphological forms. Think-aloud protocol data, gathered while learners completed a problem-solving task (a crossword puzzle) and postexposure assessment tasks (a multiple-choice recognition task and a written production task), were used to measure awareness or the lack thereof, and morphological learning was assessed by learners' performances on the two postexposure tasks. From a theoretical perspective, no dissociation between awareness and further processing of targeted forms was found in this study, the results of which are compatible with the claim that awareness plays a crucial role in subsequent processing of L2 data (e.g., Robinson, 1995; Schmidt, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995). From a methodological perspective, the data collection procedure clearly underscores the need for studies that investigate the roles of attention and awareness in second language acquisition (SLA) to gather as much data as possible from different sources that reveal participants' internal processes. By attempting to ascertain what learners really attend to or are aware of, or both, while exposed to or interacting with L2 data, such information can also address the methodological issue of how representative learners' performances in experimental groups really are in studies conducted under an attentional framework in SLA.

(Received January 10 2000)


Correspondence:
c1 Address correspondence to: Ronald P. Leow, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, ICC 403, Georgetown University, 37th & O Sts., NW, Washington, DC 20057; e-mail: leowr@gusun.georgetown.edu.


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