Introduction: Investigating Form-Focused Instruction


  • Rod Ellis, Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics.

  • I am grateful to one anonymous reviewer, Alister Cumming, and Jessica Williams for helpful comments on a draft version of this Introduction.

concerning this article may be sent to Rod Ellis, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Internet:


The Introduction has three main aims. First, it provides a historical sketch of form-focused instruction research, documenting the origins of this branch of second language acquisition, the research questions that have been addressed, and current trends. Second, it seeks to define and conceptualize what is meant by “form-focused instruction” by distinguishing it from “meaning-focused instruction” and by describing three types of form-focused instruction in terms of whether the primary focus is on form or meaning and whether the instructional attention to target forms is intensive or extensive. Various instructional options relating to each type are also described. Third, the Introduction offers a discussion of the main research methods that have been used to investigate form-focused instruction in terms of a broad distinction between confirmatory and interpretative research. Methods of measuring “acquisition” in form-focused instruction research are also considered.