Incidental Focus on Form in University Spanish Literature Courses



Incidental focus on form is one of several ways to direct language learners' attention to formal aspects of language within meaningful communicative contexts. Learners can benefit from focus on form, but the extent to which incidental focus on form, or any other type, is available to learners in advanced foreign language literature classes has not been widely researched. In a multiple case study approach, three university Spanish literature classes were studied over the course of a 15-week semester. Data were collected through class observations, instructor interviews, and instructor stimulated recalls. Using a modified version of Ellis's (2001) taxonomy of form-focused instruction, we found that recasts were the instructors' preferred form of feedback, with negotiation and explicit correction being extremely rare. Furthermore, preemptive focus on form was common, but almost exclusively limited to vocabulary. We discuss these findings with regard to two different points of view, the literature instructors' and the research on form-focused instruction. We then provide suggestions for increasing learners' opportunities for attention to form in literature courses while acknowledging the reality of the context.