The role of negative and positive feedback in the second language acquisition of the passé composé and imparfait

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This study tests the effectiveness of written recasts versus models in the acquisition of the aspectual distinction between two past tenses in French, the passé composé and the imparfait with a pretest, repeated exposure, and posttest design. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions: R (recasting: implicit negative feedback), M (modeling: pre-emptive positive evidence), and G (grammar: explicit positive evidence and negative feedback). The M and R groups read a different story with illustrations each week: (a) In the M condition, participants were shown a sentence corresponding to the illustration for 3 seconds, then were asked to answer a related question; (b) in the R condition, participants formed a sentence with given elements based on the illustration, then were exposed to the correct answer for 3 seconds; (c) the G group read traditional grammar lessons, took a short practice, and were presented with the answer key. Posttest results reveal that the R group performed significantly better than the G group but not the M group, partially supporting the hypothesis that recasting is the most effective form of feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-243
Number of pages18
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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