The effects of input enhancement and interactive video viewing on the development of pragmatic awareness and use in the beginning Spanish L2 classroom
Witten, Caryn Marie
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This study presents research on L2 pragmatic awareness and use by beginning learners of Spanish. It tests a specific instructional methodology based on linguistic theory, such as Schmidt’s (1993) Noticing Hypothesis. Questions are addressed concerning the role of conscious awareness in learning L2 pragmatics, how interactive video viewing can enhance pragmatic input, and effects on global comprehension. While viewing a video series, 62 participants were asked to find examples of speech acts corresponding to those in their L1 and to note contexts in which the Spanish second person singular was used. Instead of form-focused treatments, a control group viewed the series and later completed plot-oriented treatments. Following nine assignments, all participants responded to three instruments. A written instrument examined learners’ awareness of L2 pragmatics, attitudes toward the video component of the course, the time dedicated to this component, and global comprehension. An oral role-play involving situations seen in the video was also administered, and a multiple-choice task was completed to determine participants’ recognition of appropriate forms. Data analysis on all items concerning pragmatics, regardless of task, indicated statistical significance favoring the test group. The test group performed significantly better on the written task and displayed a somewhat more positive attitude toward the video component of the course. The test group reported dedicating significantly more time to this component of the course and demonstrated slightly better global comprehension. Attitude and time on task were considered possible intervening variables influencing performance. Results of the oral task showed some positive trends, but no statistical significance, while results from the multiple-choice task did not reflect a difference between the two groups. Analysis of individual items from the feedback revealed a pattern of better performance by the test group with second person address, an area that was repeatedly enhanced. Data for individual speech acts suggest that L2 learners are active participants in the learning process who seem more cognizant of features that are more salient to them. Speech act findings may also indicate that some features are more easily assimilated than others and that the Noticing Hypothesis does not apply equally to all pragmatic material.