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Applied Linguistics Review

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Effects of recasts and form-focused instruction on the acquisition of novel vocabulary

Yingli Yang
  • School of International Studies, University of International Business and Economics, Room 1327, Chengxin Building, No. 10 Huixindongjie St Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
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/ Lawrence Jun Zhang
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  • School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of Auckland, 74 Epsom Avenue, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
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/ Ling Chen
  • School of Foreign Studies, Beijing Information Science and Technology University, Room 602, Building 3, Qinghe Campus, Beijing, China
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Published Online: 2018-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0084


The present study explores the effects of recast plus form-focused instruction and form-focused instruction on vocabulary development and the mediating effect of working memory. Sixty-six university students were assigned to a recast plus form-focused instruction (FFI) group, a FFI group, and a control group. The instructor provided recasts on non-target vocabulary items in the recast plus FFI group, whereas the FFI group completed two form-focused vocabulary tasks only. Pretests, posttests, and delayed posttests were administered to examine learners’ development of target vocabulary items. A reading span test was employed to examine learners’ complex working memory capacities. Results show that the recast plus FFI group exhibited superior performance over the control group on both posttests and delayed posttests with large effect sizes. Working memory did not significantly correlate with vocabulary development in either treatment group.

Keywords: recasts; form-focused instruction; working memory; vocabulary acquisition; VKS


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About the article

Yingli Yang

Yingli Yang, PhD, is Associate Professor at the School of International Studies, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China. She has received her PhD degree from McGill University, Canada. Her research interests include corrective feedback, classroom research and English for Specific Purposes. Her publications appear in Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, System, and other leading Chinese journals.

Lawrence Jun Zhang

Lawrence Jun Zhang, PhD, is Professor and Associate Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, New Zealand. A past Post-Doctoral Fellow at University of Oxford, he has published widely on the psychology of language learning in British Journal of Educational Psychology, Discourse Processes, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, MLJ, Instructional Science, System, TESOL Quarterly, and JSLW. His current interests lie in reading and writing development and SLA, especially the acquisition of L2 written language. He is the sole recipient of the TESOL Award for Distinguished Research 2011 for his article in TESOL Quarterly (2010). He is a co-editor-in-chief for System (Elsevier), co-editor of Brief Research Reports of TESOL Quarterly (Wiley), and an editorial board member for Applied Linguistics Review (de Gruyter), JSLW (Elsevier), Pedagogy and Writing (Equinox), and Metacognition and Learning (Springer). Additionally, he also reviews manuscripts for Applied Linguistics, Language Learning, MLJ, Reading & Writing, Reading & Writing Quarterly, RRQ, and Review of Educational Research, among other journals.

Ling Chen

Ling Chen is a lecturer at the School of Foreign Languages, Beijing Information Science and Technology University. Her research interests include second language acquisition, vocabulary learning and instruction, and corrective feedback.

Published Online: 2018-02-13

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0084.

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