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Prompts Versus Recasts in Dyadic Interaction


  • This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (410-2006-2212 and 410-2002-0988). Parts of this study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Washington DC on March 31, 2008, and at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics in London, Ontario on May 31, 2005. We are grateful to the participating teacher and students, to José Correa for his assistance with the statistical analyses and to the following research assistants for contributions to various phases of this research: Susan Ballinger, Sophie Beaudoin, Andréanne Gagné, Carl Larouche, Elisa David, Andrea Sterzuk, Jean-Sébastien Vallée, and Yingli Yang. We gratefully acknowledge Iliana Panova, Leila Ranta, and four anonymous Language Learning reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Roy Lyster, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University, 3700 McTavish Street, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2. Internet:


This study investigated the differential effects of prompts and recasts, in the context of dyadic interaction, on the acquisition of grammatical gender by adult second language learners of French. Participants were 25 undergraduate students enrolled in an intermediate-level French course at an English-speaking university. All students were exposed in class to a 3-hr form-focused instructional treatment distributed over 2 weeks and were then randomly placed in either the recast or prompt group. On two occasions outside of class, individual students participated in three different oral tasks during dyadic interaction with a native or near-native speaker of French who, following learner errors in grammatical gender, provided feedback in the form of either prompts or recasts. Pretests and immediate and delayed posttests included two oral production tasks and a computerized reaction-time binary-choice test. Results of repeated-measures ANOVA showed that both groups significantly improved accuracy and reaction-time scores over time, irrespective of feedback type. We conclude that learners receiving recasts benefited from the repeated exposure to positive exemplars as well as from opportunities to infer negative evidence, whereas learners receiving prompts benefited from the repeated exposure to negative evidence as well as from opportunities to produce modified output.