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Does Second Language Instruction Make a Difference? A Review of Research

Michael H. Long
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp. 359-382
DOI: 10.2307/3586253
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3586253
Page Count: 24
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Does Second Language Instruction Make a Difference? A Review of Research
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Abstract

Does second language instruction promote second language acquisition? Some studies conclude that instruction does not help (or even that it is counter-productive); others find it beneficial. The picture becomes clearer if two distinctions are made. First, researchers may address one or both of two issues: the absolute effect of instruction, on the one hand, and its relative utility, on the other. Second, studies need to be subclassified according to whether or not the comparisons they make involve controlling for the total amount of instruction, exposure, or instruction plus exposure-that is, for the total opportunity to acquire the second language. Observing these distinctions, a review of research findings concludes that there is considerable (although not overwhelming) evidence that instruction is beneficial 1) for children as well as adults, 2) for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students, 3) on integrative as well as discrete-point tests, and 4) in acquisition-rich as well as acquisition-poor environments. These findings have implications for theories of second language acquisition, such as Krashen's Monitor Theory, which make predictions about second language acquisition with and without instruction, and also for those involved in educational administration, program design, and classroom teaching.

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