A Study of the Impact of Recasts on Tense Consistency in L2 Output



    1. Teachers College, Columbia University New York, New York, United States
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    • ZhaoHong Han, who received a PhD from the University of London, is assistant professor of linguistics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include L2 learnability, fossilization, and the interface of SLA and L2 teaching. Her research has appeared in journals including Applied Linguistics, Foreign Language Annals, and Language Teaching Research.


This article reports on a small-scale empirical study of recasts—a form of corrective feedback. The subjects were eight adult L2 learners of English, four of whom were randomly assigned to a recast group and four to a nonrecast group. The study adopted a pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest design, with eight pedagogical recast sessions between the pretest and the posttest for the recast group paralleled by eight regular sessions for the nonrecast group. Data collected consisted of written and oral narratives primed by cartoon strips and produced by the subjects in both groups. Recasts appeared to be successful in this study in that they heightened the L2 learners' awareness and led to considerable improvement in their tense consistency during oral and written performance. Importantly, the study identified four conditions that may be necessary for recasts to facilitate learning: individualized attention, consistent focus, developmental readiness, and intensity. Further studies employing data from multiple sources are needed to validate these conditions and to identify more clearly aspects and stages of L2 acquisition that are susceptible to recasts.