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What's the Problem? L2 Learners' Use of the L1 During Consciousness-Raising, Form-Focused Tasks

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This qualitative study provides preliminary insight into the role of the first language (L1) when pairs of intermediate-level college learners of French and Spanish are engaged in consciousness-raising, form-focused grammar tasks. Using conversation analysis of audiotaped interactions and stimulated recall sessions, we explored the ways students used the L1 and their second language (L2) to solve a grammar problem. Students who were allowed to use the L1 (Group 1) worked collaboratively in a balanced and coherent manner; students who were required to use the L2 (Group 2) exhibited fragmented interaction and little evidence of collaboration. Findings from the stimulated recall sessions suggested that reading, thinking, and talking appeared to be simultaneous and integrated processes for the students in Group 1, whereas these processes appeared to be sequential and competing for the students in Group 2. In addition to suggesting that using the L1 for these kinds of tasks reduces cognitive overload, these findings invite teachers to tackle the “problem” of the L1 in the foreign language classroom.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of French and ItalianVanderbilt UniversityVU Station B #3563122301 Vanderbilt PlaceNashville, TN 37235-6312, Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Romance, German, and SlavicLanguages and LiteraturesGeorge Washington UniversitySuite 13, 801 22nd St, NWWashington, DC 20052, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 March 2008

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