The Role of Oral Output in Noticing and Promoting the Acquisition of Linguistic Forms

Focus of the study: The aim of the study is to test the Swain’s output hypothesis, particularly focusing on its noticing component.   Also, the study investigated the impact of pushed output on oral language development in L2. The study has  three reserch questions. The first question adresses noticing and asks whether oral output group learners notice the gaps in their linguistic knowledge during a retell task. The second question adresses comparison of output vs. non-output groups in their linguistic accuracy on retelling task. The final question is about the long term effects of possible linguistic gains after oral production.
Instructional settings and participants: The participants of the study were (N=60) second year college students majoring in English Language Education at Shaanxi Normal University, whose ages ranged between 18-22. The participants were randomly assigned to either the experimental or the control group. The study took place at a langage labroratory.
Instrumentation and procedure: The study adopted a pre-post test quasi-experimental research design. To observe retention of new knowledge, the  researchers tested learners’ performance on immediate and delayed post tests, which took place two weeks following the instructional sessions. For treatment, the particiants initially listened to the tape of a short narrative for twice. At first, they were instructed to listen for main idea and then they were allowed to take notes. After listening to the story, the control group answered comprhension questions about the listening task. The experimental group, on the the other hand, not only answered comprehension questions but also were required to work in pairs to retell the story they have heard within the following 15 minutes. For the reconstruction of the story in the listening task, participants were told to pay attention to content and grammatical accuracy. The experimental group participants were recorded during their pair-work retelling activity and their interactions were then transcribed in order to identify language-related episodes (LRE). The next day after reconstruction, participants took the immediate post test, which included listening to the same story and  a gap-filling exercise. Two weeks later, the same procedure was implemented for the delayed post test. 

Results and discussion: In relation to the noticing component of the output hypothesis, this study shows confirming evidence on the basis of experimental group participants’ LREs, which indicated that learners noticed the gaps in their linguistic knowledge. During the pairwork activity, the learners paid attention to how to use verbs correctly the most, then the nouns and finally the articles.The article has also found support for the impact of pushed output on language acqusition especially in terms of accuracy in production. The results confirmed that the output promotes greater linguistic accuracy, which is expected to take place after learners notice the gaps in their linguistic knowledge. In the Gap-filling exercises which was given to students the next day as well as 2 weeks later following the reconstruction of the story, the experimental group of pushed-output significantly outperformed the cotrol group of non-output group. Therefore, the researchers concluded that output enhances linguistic gains in terms of accuracy in oral production and such gains are retained for long term, showing that output positively affects foreign or second language acquisiton.