Rod Ellis is a professor in and head of the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics, University of Auckland. He was previously professor of TESOL at Temple University.
Preemptive Focus on Form in the ESL Classroom
Version of Record online: 4 JAN 2012
2001 TESOL International Association
Volume 35, Issue 3, pages 407–432, Autumn 2001
How to Cite
ELLIS, R., BASTURKMEN, H. and LOEWEN, S. (2001), Preemptive Focus on Form in the ESL Classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 35: 407–432. doi: 10.2307/3588029
- Issue online: 4 JAN 2012
- Version of Record online: 4 JAN 2012
This article contributes to the growing body of descriptive research investigating focus on form, defined as the incidental attention that teachers and L2 learners pay to form in the context of meaning-focussed instruction. Whereas previous research addressed reactive focus on form (i.e., corrective feedback), the study reported in this article investigated preemptive focus on form (i.e., occasions when either the teacher or a student chose to make a specific form the topic of the discourse). The study found that in 12 hours of meaning-focussed instruction, there were as many preemptive focus-on-form episodes (FFEs) as reactive FFEs. The majority of the preemptive FFEs were initiated by students rather than the teacher and dealt with vocabulary. Students were more likely to uptake a form (i.e., incorporate it into an utterance of their own) if the FFE was student initiated. The preemptive FFEs were typically direct, that is, they dealt with form explicitly rather than implicitly. Despite this, they did not appear to interfere unduly with the communicative flow of the teaching. The article concludes by arguing that preemptive focus on form deserves more attention from classroom researchers than it has received to date.