Effective Timing of Focus on Form Explicit Instruction in Foreign Language Teaching

Date of Award

June 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics


Amanda Brown

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


In this study, the effects of two different timings of Explicit Focus on Form (EFonF)instruction on implicit knowledge and explicit knowledge in foreign language acquisition were examined in the context of Japanese foreign language teaching. Focus on Form (Long 1991) is a teaching approach in which learners’ focus is mainly on meaning but occasionally their attention is drawn to language forms in contrast to more traditional language teaching, where the focus is more on language forms than meanings (Focus on FormS). Previous research in most closely related areas is limited to two prior studies (Kim, 2014; Shintani, 2017), but one study examined Focus on FormS (FonFS) as opposed to FonF instruction and the other examined self-directed study in writing as opposed to face-to-face instruction in classrooms. This study contrasted earlier and later timings of EFonF face-to-face instruction. In the earlier EFonF, explicit grammar instruction was delivered toward the beginning of a class period, while in the later EFonF, explicit grammar instruction was delivered in the middle. In addition, since the effects of instructional timings may differ according to whether learners have some productive knowledge of a target language feature, the treatments manipulated prior exposure to language items as a variable. Five learners of Japanese language in their early 20’s participated in the study. They received four separate language classes each covering a different Japanese language item over a period of two weeks (two treatments per week). For each treatment, a pre-test, immediate post-test, and one week delayed post-test was administered. The results did not show differences in the effects between prior exposure items (+Exposure) and non-prior exposure items (-Exposure). In the immediate post-test, both timings improved students’ implicit and explicit knowledge. In one week delayed tests, however, students held their implicit knowledge slightly better when they received a later timing of EFonF, though when students expressed a preference, it was for EFonF. Limitations and suggestions for further research are discussed.


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