Learners’ and Instructors’ Preferences for Integrated and Isolated Form-Focused Instruction in Arabic

By Hussein M. Elkhafaifi
Submitted to Session P5003 (Innovations in Foreign Language Curricula, Instruction, and Proficiency Assessment, 2017 Annual Meeting
All Middle East;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Communicative language teaching has been a mainstay of second-and foreign-language acquisition methodology since the 1970s, and in the four decades since the introduction of CLT, methods and techniques for teaching grammar have changed radically. Along with CLT, new theories of second language acquisition (SLA) focused on the importance of the language acquisition that learners experience while they participate in meaning-focused activities in the classroom. Many studies have investigated the efficacy of focus-on-form grammar instruction, but few studies have undertaken the examination of preferences that teachers and learners have for focus-on-form instruction or for integrated instruction. The present study explores the preferences of Arabic instructors and learners for Integrated and Isolated Form-Focused Instruction. Participants are instructors presently teaching Arabic courses in American universities, and their students. Both groups will complete separate surveys eliciting their preferences regarding grammar teaching and instruction, to determine whether the groups have a preference for the isolated method of instruction wherein grammar is taught and studied separately, or for the integrated focus on form technique where grammar is integrated within the context of communicative activities. Many studies have shown that both types of instruction can be effective in the second-language classroom, the present study seeks to identify the preferences of two specific groups actively engaged in contemporary Arabic classrooms.
This study addresses several research questions: What do teachers and learners perceive as the most effective way to balance isolated and form-focused instruction? In their view, which elements of grammar can be acquired without an explicit focus and which require a very focused approach? How do instructors view the teaching of metalinguistic information, and what do learners prefer in this regard? The survey will also query respondents about timing. When do instructors prefer to draw learners' attention to form-- before, after, or during communicative practice, and when do learners prefer to have their grasp of form monitored? The survey asks teachers about their use of corrective feedback; for example, do they stop a communicative activity to correct form, or permit learners to proceed uninterrupted? Alternatively, are there instances where learners may focus their attention wholly on the content of their utterances? Responses from the surveys will be analyzed to provide both quantitative and qualitative data that instructors can use to inform their own teaching methodology and curricula and create a learning environment that takes into account learner preferences for acquisition of specific elements of Arabic grammar.