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# Oxford University Press 2004
Teachers' Stated Beliefs about Incidental Focus on Form and their Classroom Practices
HELEN BASTURKMEN, SHAWN LOEWEN, and ROD ELLIS
The University of Auckland This article reports a case study investigating the relationship between three teachers' stated beliefs about and practices of focus on form in intermediate level ESL communicative lessons. Focus on form was de®ned and studied in terms of incidental time-outs taken by students and teachers to deal with issues of linguistic form during communicative lessons. The teachers' statements of belief about focus on form were compared to their management of focus on form during lessons in which all the teachers used the same communicative task. Results showed some inconsistencies in the teachers' stated beliefs, in particular in relation to when it is legitimate to take time out from a communicative activity to focus on issues of form, and preferred error correction technique. While some statistically signi®cant dierences in the teachers' practices were re¯ected in dierences in their stated beliefs, others were not. These results indicated a somewhat tenuous relationship between the teachers' practices and stated beliefs regarding focus on form. It is argued that future investigations of teachers' beliefs, especially of unplanned elements of teaching such as focus on form, need to be based on both stated beliefs and observed behaviours.
The study reported in this article takes up Borg's (2003) call for investigations that address speci®c aspects of language teaching in relation to teacher cognition. The speci®c aspect of teaching that will be considered is focus on form instruction. The aspect of cognition to be examined is teachers' beliefs. We brie¯y examine these below.
Focus on form
Focus on form is a feature of communicative language teaching (CLT). CLT can be broadly de®ned, at least in its `strong version' (Howatt 1984), as teaching oriented primarily towards exchanging meaning or messages. It typically involves the use of communicative tasks, de®ned by Skehan (1998: 268) as activities where: meaning is primary; there is a goal that needs to be worked towards; the activity is outcome-evaluated; and there is a relationship between the task and real life. Although CLT, so de®ned, is meaning-centred,
244 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES
it need not preclude attention to form if this takes place in the context of performing a communicative task. Long (1991) uses the term `focus on form' to refer to such attention to form and has argued that it promotes language acquisition because it enables learners to `notice' linguistic elements (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and discourse features) that might otherwise have been missed, and because it is compatible with the learners' internal syllabus (that is learners are free to attend to forms that are `learnable'). Ellis (2001) has pointed out that focus on form can be either planned or incidental. In planned focus on form, the teacher/researcher preselects a form for attention and designs a focused communicative task that will provide opportunities for its use. This type of focus on form has served as the subject of a number of experimental studies (for example Doughty and Varela 1998). In incidental focus on form, the teacher/researcher makes no attempt to predetermine which form or forms will be attended to; rather, the focus on form arises naturally out of the performance of a communicative task with no pre-targeted language forms. Our concern in this paper is with incidental focus on form. Recent research (Lyster and Ranta 1997; Lyster 1998; Ellis et al. 2001a, b) has documented the fact that incidental focus on form occurs frequently in CLT. It can consist of responses to errors made by students (`reactive focus on form') or queries raised by either the teacher or the students about a linguistic item even though no error has occurred (`preemptive focus on form'). Our previous research (Ellis et al. 2001a, b) has shown that incidental focus on form episodes (FFEs) (that is, episodes in which the discourse is related to a speci®c linguistic item) varied across classes in a number of ways, such as in the complexity of episodes, in their linguistic focus, and in the teachers' responses within them.
In recent years, there has been a shift away from a view of teachers as people who master a set of general principles and theories developed by experts towards a view of teaching as a thinking activity and teachers as people who construct their own personal and workable theories of teaching (Fang 1996; Borg 2003; Richards 1998). Concomitant with this conceptualization of teaching as a thinking activity has been an increase in research into teachers' beliefs (Borg 2003). Although the concept of belief has attracted considerable research interest in education in recent years, there is a lack of consensus about what the term denotes (S. Borg 2003, M. Borg 2001; Woods 1996). In the present study, the term beliefs is de®ned as statements teachers made about their ideas, thoughts, and knowledge that are expressed as evaluations of what `should be done', `should be the case', and `is preferable'. This de®nition is in line with
HELEN BASTURKMEN, SHAWN LOEWEN, and ROD ELLIS
Linde's (1980: 2) de®nition of beliefs systems as `values, that is, about what ought to be the case' as reported in Woods (1996: 70). It is generally acknowledged that teachers' stated beliefs play an important role in relation to instructional practice. Burns (1992: 58) describes the `beliefs that motivate' instructional practices in the classroom. Johnson (1992) reports research in the teaching of literacy supporting the notion that `beliefs tend to shape' teachers' instructional practices. M. Borg (2001) proposes that beliefs `guide' teachers' thought and behaviour. Some writers emphasize the mutually informing nature of the relationship (Borg 2003; Fang 1996; Pajares 1992). Pajares (1992: 307) states: `Few would argue [dispute the fact] that the beliefs teachers hold in¯uence their perceptions and judgements, which, in turn, aect their behaviour in the classroom.' Researchers have made use of both observational and self-report data to try to understand how teachers make sense of their work. Burns (1992) investigating the beliefs of six teachers about the use of written language in teaching beginner-level students, encouraged the teachers to re¯ect on their lessons and was able to identify a number of themes in the teachers' `personalised theories'. Borg (1999) attempted to get teachers to identify their implicit theories by examining their own instructional decision-making, and to make what was implicit in practice, explicit as theory. Breen et al. (2001) investigated how eighteen teachers in one particular teaching situation described their classroom practices and explained the pedagogic principles they based these practices on. They investigated whether a particular shared disposition among a group of teachers would be materialized through similar or diverse practices. They found that in some cases shared practices appeared to be driven by dierent stated principles and that in other instances the teachers associated a shared principle with diverse practices. Some studies have used self-report and observational data to compare the extent to which teachers' stated beliefs are correlated with their practices. For a review of such research in general education, see Fang (1996). Johnson (1992) studied the ®t between the `theoretical orientations' (in terms of methodological preferences) towards teaching ESL literacy of three teachers and their instructional practices over a number of lessons. Some studies have found consistency between stated beliefs and practices. For example, Johnson found that ESL teachers holding clearly de®ned theoretical beliefs provided instruction consistent with their theoretical orientations. Hsiao-Ching (2000) identi®ed the stated beliefs of a seventh-grade biology teacher about genderrelated dierences in learning style and classroom participation, and found these beliefs re¯ected in the teacher's classroom practices. However, a number of studies have found inconsistencies between stated beliefs and practices. A study by Borko and Niles (1982) found that teachers' stated educational beliefs were unrelated to how they grouped students for instruction. ESL studies of self-styled communicative teachers have shown that these teachers may no more create conditions for `genuine communication' in their classrooms than other traditional teachers (Nunan 1987; Kumaravadivelu
the bene®ts of using the target language in reading practice) that generally guided their practice. such as the types of activities the teachers included in their lessons. have tended to show inconsistencies between stated beliefs and practices. A considerable body of literature now exists documenting the role of context. Eraut (1994) and Ellis (1997) distinguish between teachers' technical and practical knowledge. Practical knowledge . and knowledge (BAK). such as time and lack of appropriate materials. We can draw similar conclusions from studies that have speci®cally investigated the reasons for teachers departing from their lesson plans (see review in Borg 2003). An apparent mismatch can also be explained in terms of con¯icting belief systems. Studies by Richards (1998) and Bailey (1996) found that student factors most often prompted teachers' to make modi®cations. it was their perceptions of poor student performance and lack of motivation that prevented them from providing instruction consistent with their stated beliefs. Johnson's (1992) study. Graden concluded that the teachers subordinated their beliefs about reading instruction to their beliefs about the motivational needs of their students. Woods' study related `hotspots' in the data (elements which seemed incoherent) to the dynamic and evolving nature of the teachers' BAK over time (1996: 248) and showed that these hotspots came to be resolved through developments in teaching experience and expertise. The study found that the teachers had a number of clearly articulated beliefs about reading instruction (for example.246 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES 1993). Fang 1996). as opposed to when they make on-line decisions during teaching. then. that can hinder teachers from implementing their stated beliefs (Borg 2003. is why teachers' practices sometimes contravene their stated beliefs. However. Fang (1996) surveys research on this topic and concludes that studies based on multiple sources of data. A key issue. It may be the case that teachers draw on dierent sources of knowledge when planning for teaching. The teachers in Graden's (1996) study reported that. including classroom observation. and particularly constraints. These are general ideas that can be applied to many cases. found consistency between teachers' stated beliefs and their planned practices. The teachers explained these in terms of constraints. For example. assumptions. The study revealed that the teachers' interpreted classroom events through their evolving networks of beliefs. the teachers in Bailey's study were prompted to make changes by their perceptions of the need to promote students' involvement and to encourage more equal distribution of participation in the discourse in the classroom. Technical knowledge denotes the body of explicit ideas derived by a profession from deep re¯ection or empirical investigation. Woods (1996) reports a case study investigation of the thinking and practices of experienced ESL teachers in university settings in Canada. mismatches between their stated beliefs and their practices were evident in observations of their lessons. mentioned above. a study by Graden (1996) investigated the stated beliefs and practices of teachers of reading instruction. in the main. For example.
It is used as a resource to be applied rapidly and intuitively. RESEARCH QUESTIONS Our research questions were as follows: 1 2 3 How do teachers practise incidental focus on form? What beliefs do teachers hold about incidental focus on form? To what extent are these beliefs internally consistent? To what extent are teachers' beliefs about incidental focus on form congruent with their observed practices? METHOD Teaching context and participants This study focuses on the practices of three teachers.HELEN BASTURKMEN. Unlike studies of the relationship between stated beliefs and practices. from 40 to 65 minutes in length. Golombek's (1998) study of the personal practical knowledge of two ESL teachers examined the on-line decisions that they made in their teaching practice. and found the teachers were strongly in¯uenced by their own experiences of language learning. we examine teachers' stated beliefs about communicative language teaching and the role of incidental focus on form and compare their stated beliefs with their focus on form practices in the performance of a communicative task. The full data set consisted of 48 lessons from 12 teachers. It may be hypothesized that because technical knowledge is typically not `procedural'. we examine to what extent teachers' stated beliefs relate to instructional practices that re¯ect on-line `improvisation' (Van Lier 1996). In the school there is a set of `communicative tasks' prepared in-house that . We return to this later. which have addressed how practices are correlated with planned instructional behaviour (for example. In the study reported below. It is part of a larger study (Loewen 2002) investigating focus on form in intact classes with dierent teachers all from the same private language school in Auckland. SHAWN LOEWEN. No eort was made by the researcher to guide the teachers in their choice of lesson plans. a second researcher interviewed the teachers to elicit their stated beliefs of focus on form in communicative teaching. and ROD ELLIS 247 denotes the procedural knowledge an individual practitioner has derived from experiences of teaching and learning languages. the researcher simply asked to observe lessons that the individual teachers themselves considered to be communicative. New Zealand. teachers may be less likely to draw on it in their interactive decision-making in on-line lessons than on their practical knowledge. Johnson 1992). That is. Following the observations. our concern here is with teachers' interactive decision-making. In recognition of the fact that individuals have their own interpretations of what constitutes communicative teaching.
Table 1: Teacher and class information Teacher Teaching Time at ESOL Class experience the school Quali®cations (years) 15 5 years Diploma Upper intermediate level 1 Intermediate level 4 Intermediate level 3 Number of students 7 Steve Mark Rick 11 1 4 months Certi®cate 1 year Certi®cate 8 12 No demographic information. Data collection The study involved a combination of observational and self-report data. using the same task. however. These instruments will now be described in further detail.248 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES teachers can elect to use. The observational component involved observation of the teachers' lessons. and Taiwan. students at this school averaged 22 years in age and came to New Zealand to study English for a variety of reasons. The students participating in the study came from a variety of countries with a majority (over 75 per cent) from Korea. was gathered from the students. That is. The observational data for this study. as well as their ESL quali®cations and the class they were teaching. native speakers of English. apart from nationality. Table 1 shows their experience in teaching ESL. Japan. it allows us to compare teachers' practices while keeping the task variable constant. China. the length of time they had been at the school. then. personal communication). and in the same school. The teachers are listed in order of teaching experience. consists of one lesson for each of the three teachers. the researcher noticed that three teachers used the same communicative task (the Prisoner Task as shown in Appendix A). This provides the opportunity to investigate the stated beliefs and practices of these three teachers in relation to their use of the same instructional material. cued response scenarios and stimulated recall. During the original observations. including preparation for academic study and professional development (Director of Studies. . The three teachers were all male. The self-report component comprised statements of beliefs about focus on form elicited from teachers through the use of in-depth interviews.
This arrangement allowed the researcher to record all teacher±student interaction during the class. Thus it is preferable to access beliefs indirectly.HELEN BASTURKMEN. The interview aimed to enquire about beliefs in the abstract by eliciting statements about the teachers' orientations towards communicative language teaching and the role of focus on form in it. small groups as well as the whole class. pairs. Kagan 1990. The lessons were transcribed in their entirety. cued response scenarios. and their assumptions and conventions. and ROD ELLIS 249 Observations of lessons One researcher was present as a non-participant observer in the naturally occurring communicative lessons of the teachers at the school described above. a number of dierent introspective techniques were used to collect data about the teachers' beliefsÐan in-depth interview. Each lesson was audio-recorded using a wireless clip-on microphone that was attached to the teacher. Schwarz 2000). This risk is described by Kagan as follows: `Any researcher who uses a short-answer test of teacher belief (i. Self-report data collection methods In designing the instruments for eliciting teachers' stated beliefs we were guided by the discussion of methodological issues in this ®eld presented in the literature (Munby 1984. and stimulated recall. because standardized statements may mask or misrepresent a particular teacher's highly personalised perceptions and de®nitions' (Kagan 1990: 426). Beliefs can be held unconsciously and a teacher may not have the language to express them or may be unwilling to express any unpopular beliefs they hold. The second and third techniques aimed to elicit the teachers' interactive thinking and decision making on the subject. In the present study we opted for an ethnomethodological method. For these reasons. To this end we designed a number of open-ended items (such as sentence completion) and in-depth questions. including talk between the teacher and individuals. SHAWN LOEWEN. an instrument consisting of prefabricated statements) runs the risk of obtaining bogus data. the teachers) understand and make sense of their everyday world. The validity of ®ndings from some studies of beliefs has been questioned. that is. preferring to state beliefs viewed as socially desirable (Kagan 1990). Grotjahn 1991.e. Methodologies based on a short-answer type questionnaire in which teachers respond to standardized statements provide an etic rather than emic perspective on beliefs. Methodologies for this include the use of extended interviews and stimulated recall in which teachers are asked to recount speci®c cases and anecdotes (Kagan 1990. a method de®ned by Cohen and Manion (1989) as the attempt to understand how the participants themselves (in this case. they re¯ect the ideas of the researchers rather than the teachers (Munby 1984). Gass and Mackey 2000). Woods 1996. Woods 1996. .
the teachers were presented with a set of scenarios of typical classroom situations and asked to comment on them. The teachers were asked to comment on what they felt they should do in these situations. They were based on typical focus on form episodes we had observed in the CLT of a number of teachers at similar institutions. For example. or pronunciation). 2001a. The scenarios were derived from our previous studies of focus on form in the communicative classroom (Ellis et al. The main items were open-ended. as that would have invited them to list a number of possibilities. as demonstrated by our previous research. but rather asked them to recall a successful communicative lesson they had recently taught. One scenario was concerned with pronunciation while others were concerned with grammar or vocabulary. An example is shown in Appendix C. All three teachers were shown the same episodes and this technique enabled us to compare their responses to the same events. It re¯ected a common type of focus on form episode. These represented vignettes of critical incidents related to focus on form that teachers might encounter in the classroom. . See Appendix B for sample questions from the in-depth interviews. and how the episodes are managed once they are in progress (the length of episodes and the type of response given by the teacher).250 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Our previous work on focus on form served as a basis for selecting the speci®c aspects of focus on form to address using these introspective techniques These aspects included the type of episode (reactive and student-initiated or teacher-initiated pre-emptive episodes). (b) Cued response scenarios. spelling. we did not ask the teachers what a good communicative lesson should be like. (a) In-depth interview. the reason for focusing on forms (because of problems in understanding the message or because of concerns about language forms per se. One problem in the design of some studies has been that an attempt to assess beliefs has been made without instantiating the context. Open-ended items have the added advantage of eliciting ideas expressed in the respondents' own words (Oppenheimer 1992). For example. This involved some closed item lead-in prompts that aimed to focus the respondents' attention on the subject at hand. This scenario was devised to represent a student-initiated enquiry about a vocabulary item. To reduce this problem. such as a teacher's knowledge of the particular students involved and the mood of the class. The ®rst part of the interview was based roughly around a semi-structured interview protocol. However. b). The principle that guided the design of the interview was to avoid direct questioning in favour of indirect items. it was not feasible to specify in the scenarios all the individual and contextual factors which may aect teachers' responses. one scenario showed a student-initiated episode while another showed a reactive (error correction) episode. because we wanted to ®nd out what they felt as desirable behaviour in accordance with our de®nition of belief. the linguistic focus of episodes (grammar. that is accuracy). vocabulary. We did not ask them what they could do.
namely that it may have led the teachers to simply oer post hoc rationalizations. Analysis of the observational data to identify teachers' focus on form practices The analysis of the classroom data involved identifying the focus on form episodes in each teacher's lesson and coding the particular characteristics of each episode. The teacher ostensibly deals with the error because of a concern for language form. This shows an error correction episode concerned with pronunciation. we acknowledge a danger of this technique. We wanted to ®nd out whether the episodes re¯ected what the teachers felt they should have done in these events. Woods 1996). The teachers themselves were not involved in analysing or commenting on the analysis of the data. Data analysis Two of the researchers ®rst analysed the observational and self-report data on their own and then compared their analyses. Again. Appendix D provides an example. The four recorded extracts were re-played to the teacher who was also provided with a written transcript of them. namely: (1) correction of an error by the teacher. The episodes in the stimulated recall also gave the teachers the opportunity to talk about their beliefs concerning focus on form in relation to the immediate context of their own classroom. and ROD ELLIS 251 (c) Stimulated recall. it was not possible to incorporate this into the design of the study. 2003). Although presenting teachers with an analysis and eliciting their comments can provide a further source of validation for the analysis (see Woods 1996). The use of stimulated recall represented an attempt to provide a point of departure for the teachers to articulate their beliefs in relation to their individual teaching contexts. These extracts represented the various options for doing focus on form (Ellis et al. . our previous research had shown that teachers in this type of school made a good number of error corrections during lessons the teachers themselves labelled as communicative. (3) teacher response to a studentinitiated language query. SHAWN LOEWEN. given that there was no discernable problem in understanding the message. Research into teacher beliefs has been critiqued for eliciting abstract notions only and failing to relate notions to the immediate and unique professional environment of the teacher (Munby 1984. The aim of the stimulated recall was to provide the teachers with the opportunity to verbalize their thoughts about their interactive decision making. and (4) teacher initiation of a language focus even though no error had occurred. The third instrument in our elicitation procedure involved stimulated recall (Gass and Mackey 2000) and centred on a subset of four extracts recorded and transcribed from each teacher's lesson.HELEN BASTURKMEN. However. even though there had been no breakdown in understanding. (2) no response by the teacher to a student language error.
To illustrate this scheme. In order to check the reliability of the identi®cation of FFEs.252 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES (a) Identifying focus on form episodes (FFE). an FFE was de®ned as `the discourse from the point where the attention to linguistic form starts to the point where it ends. Example 1 Episode S: yeah I'm a patriost T: a patriot S: yeah Characteristics Type Linguistic focus Complexity Source Response Category Reactive Pronunciation Simple Code Provide (Recast) Example 1 illustrates a reactive FFE in which the teacher brie¯y focuses on a student's incorrect pronunciation of patriot. and Basturkmen (1999) by the researchers for the characteristics shown in Table 2. due to a change in topic back to message or sometimes another focus on form' (Ellis et al. based on Ellis. The FFEs were then coded. Although the teacher appears to understand the student. The recordings of the lessons were transcribed and focus on form episodes (FFEs) were identi®ed. . (b) Coding of characteristics. the data were coded by a second rater and an agreement rate of 89. a number of focus on form episodes will now be discussed.9 per cent was reached. Loewen. he decides to address the error by providing the correct form. The FFE is simple because the student's error and the teacher's response each comprise only one utterance. In line with our wider research study. 2001a: 294).
and ROD ELLIS 253 Table 2: Characteristics of focus on form episodes Characteristic De®nition Categories Inter coder reliability (k =) . 5+ turn exchange Provide T gives information about a language form either by use of a recast (reformulation of a student's utterance retaining the original meaning but improving the language) or an inform (explanation of the form) Elicit T attempts to draw out from student(s) a language form or information about a language form Linguistic focus Aspect of language targeted in the FFE Why an FFE is instigated .970 Source .HELEN BASTURKMEN.776 Teacher response Type of feedback provided by the teacher . . SHAWN LOEWEN.900 Type When the FFE is instigated Reactive (error correction) Student-initiated query Teacher-initiated language point* Grammar Vocabulary Pronunciation Code Inaccuracy in use of a language form Message Problem understanding meaning Simple short.879 Complexity Length of the FFE .842 * The teacher's initiation of the FFE parallels the options of provide or elicit described in teacher response. up to 4-turn exchange Complex long.
what do we call a person who commits theft? S2: Thief T: Thief S1: Thief T: Yeh ok Characteristics Type Linguistic focus Complexity Category Teacher-initiated Vocabulary Complex Source Response Code Elicit .254 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Example 2 Episode S1: positive about the future S2: what's mean positive S1: that means mmm T: they are optimistic mm ok she she feels good about the future S1: mhm S2: oh T: she feels like the future will be good for her S2: how you spell positive Characteristics Type Linguistic focus Complexity Source Response Category Student-initiated Vocabulary Complex Message Provide (Inform) Example 2 shows an episode in which a student raises a question about the meaning of the vocabulary item positive. the teacher provides information about the meaning of the vocabulary item. The episode is complex since there is more than one response turn by the teacher. Example 3 Episode T: so if he has committed theft what is he S1: um he was in prison for 2 years T: yeh that's where he was. In both of the response turns. The episode ends (and a new one begins) when the student changes the linguistic focus from the meaning to the spelling of the linguistic item.
0 were used to identify signi®cant dierences. An alpha level of p < . Then the researchers came together and compared the pro®les. however. The researchers independently wrote a pro®le of each teacher based on their notes.05 was set for all chi-squares. why to focus on form. Additionally. The episode is complex as it involves the teacher and students in more than one turn each. Comparing the two sets of data We related the stated beliefs to observed practice as shown in Table 3. We used this matrix to record how the teachers individually positioned themselves in regard to focus on form. because the data consisted of frequency counts of categorical data. and ROD ELLIS 255 Example 3 shows the teacher initiating an episode about an item of vocabulary (thief). ideas about when to focus on form.HELEN BASTURKMEN. a teacher may make a number of statements that it is best to interfere with the ¯ow of a communicative activity . These instances are noted in the results section. In order to analyse and compare the characteristics of FFEs occurring in the three lessons. For example. They also noted any other themes in the teachers' statements of beliefs not related to the above and any con¯icting beliefs expressed. raw frequencies as well as percentages were calculated. rather than by providing it for them. Pearson's Chi-square analysis was performed on the raw frequencies. In general the pro®les were similar. using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 10. (2002: 312) we aimed for `an immersion in the data'. The teachers' introspective comments were transcribed and two researchers read the transcripts and listened to the recordings a number of times. Since the analyses involved variables with more than two coding categories (that is chi-squares larger than 2 Â 2). what aspects of language to focus on and how to manage focus on form in communicative lessons. we searched the self-report data for statements made by the teacher of his beliefs about why to focus on form during communicative lessons (because of problems with accuracy or understanding the message a student was trying to convey). It was also necessary to exclude some coding categories from the chi-square analyses because they did not have suciently high cell counts. There has been no problem in understanding meaning. Analysis of the self-report data to identify teachers' stated beliefs Following Waeytens et al. SHAWN LOEWEN. We devised a coding matrix with empty boxes for each teacher's de®nition of communicative teaching. but where they diered the researchers returned to the data and negotiated an agreement. The teacher does this by eliciting the form from the students. Two researchers independently searched for belief statements and quotes in the data and listed them in the boxes. adjusted standardized residuals of greater than plus or minus 2. (c) Statistical analysis. For example.0. the teacher wishes to improve the student's ability to use the language accurately (code).
Finally the extent to which the teachers' beliefs matched their practices was assessed. First. Our observations showed that the amount of time spent on the task varied . Second. We then examined the observational data to identify how often focus on form episodes were initiated by the teacher because of a communication problem. The teachers' focus on form practices Table 4 provides information about the length of time each teacher spent on the task. the teachers are listed in order of teaching experience. RESULTS The results are reported in two parts. No one would expect a teacher's practice to either always or never match his or her stated beliefs. as opposed to how often focus on form episodes were initiated by the teacher to deal with a language form despite no apparent diculty in understanding the message. In each part. furthermore. beginning with the most experienced teacher.256 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Table 3: Comparison of data on stated beliefs and observed practice Stated beliefs Characteristics of FFEs in observed practice What approach to adopt when Type (reactive. vocabulary. student-initiated or teacherfocusing on form initiated) Why to focus on form Source (message or code) What to focus on Language focus (grammar. Rather our aim was to examine the extent to which the teachers' stated beliefs were re¯ected in their practice. or pronunciation) How to best focus on form Complexity (simple or complex) and Teacher response (provide or elicit) only when there is a problem of understanding. as re¯ected in the introspective data. In relating the teachers' stated beliefs to observational data we did not want to simply con®rm or discon®rm whether the stated beliefs were evident in their practice. we would expect that there would be occasions when a stated belief is contradicted by practiceÐperhaps due to constraints. the teachers' focus on form practices are described in terms of statistical information relating to the various characteristics of focus on form episodes. the stated beliefs of each teacher. we would hardly expect to ®nd no evidence of teachers' stated beliefs in their teaching practice. the number of FFEs that occurred and the ratio of FFEs per minute. are reported qualitatively. After all.
5 per cent) than the other teachers. while Rick had a higher ratio of 1. pointing out both congruences and incongruences. Apparent inconsistencies in their beliefs will be noted. Mark's residuals do not quite meet the 2. SHAWN LOEWEN.HELEN BASTURKMEN. Again.6 per cent) than did Mark and Rick. Table 5 reveals the characteristics of focus on form that were present in each class. but they come close (1. Regarding type of FFE. Table 4 shows that Mark and Steve had similar ratios of roughly 0.25 Note: Each teacher spent a dierent amount of time on the task. The teachers' stated beliefs about focus on form Each teacher's stated beliefs about focus on form will be considered in turn. Conversely. This section will also compare each teacher's practices and stated beliefs.0 threshold. and ROD ELLIS 257 Table 4: Frequency of focus on form episodes Teacher Length of observation (in minutes) 63 58 40 Number of FFEs Ratio of FFEs per minute Steve Mark Rick 31 26 50 .8).25 FFEs per minute. the chi-square analysis indicated that Rick had a signi®cantly higher frequency of Elicitation moves (26 per cent) than did the other teachers. indicating a trend towards a signi®cantly higher frequency of simple FFEs for Mark than for the other teachers.9). Steve participated in a signi®cantly higher number of studentinitiated FFEs (51.45 1. indicating a trend towards a signi®cantly higher frequency of Provide moves for Mark than for the other teachers. the chi-square analysis indicated that Steve had a signi®cantly higher frequency of complex FFEs (64. When examining the complexity of the FFEs. they are very close (at 1.0 threshold. For Response moves. Although the complexity residuals for Mark do not reach the 2.49 . from teacher to teacher. With regard to Linguistic Focus and Source. Steve Below are the main themes to emerge from the analysis of Steve's beliefs about focus on form: . Table 5 indicates that there were no signi®cant dierences among the three teachers. we see that Rick had a signi®cantly higher number of Reactive FFEs (82 per cent) than did the other two teachers.5 FFEs per minute.
5%) (73.2%) (30.5%) ±1.5 107 2 6.001 2 11 ±2.9 12 (50.8 107 2 3.8%) ±1.5%) (80.70 .6 3 (6%) 28 .7%) ±2.9 22 ±.8 (61.8 1. .82 .034 9 (29%) 1.4%) (69.6 45 (90.5%) (64.157 ±1.6 13 (44.6%) (19. ** Recasts and Informs were combined as Provides for the chi-square analysis.0 20 (64.0%) 107 2 9.8 29 (58%) ±3.5%) 2 (6.011 * Teacher-initiated FFEs were not included in the chi-square analysis due to low cell counts.6 5 (20.9 10 1 (3.6 15 1.4 20 2.8 6 ±.8%) .9%) ±1.3 100 4 7.4 25 ±.4 19 6 .3 (35.1 24 (51.3 98 2 15.5%) (23.Teacherinitiated initiated* Complexity Simple Complex Response Provide** Recast Inform Elicitation Linguistic Focus*** Vocabulary Grammar Pronunciation Source Code Message Steve 13 16 3.4 8 ±1.0%) (44.8 Mark Residual Rick Residual n df w2 p 16 .5%) Residual ±3.9%) (51.1%) 2.8%) ±2.5 8 (16%) 13 (26.4 13 (27.2 41 (82%) 3.0%) (10.1%) (15.0 10 (34.4 (41.8%) (57.331 6 (20.1%) (26.2%) .Table 5: FFE characteristics Teacher Type Reactive Student.6%) (6.0%) 3.7%) ±.08 .4 7 (29.05 .0%) 1.0%) 1.5%) ±.2 6 (12%) ±3.7%) (38.0 (56.4%) 4 18 1.8 10 (21. *** Spelling FFEs (n = 7) were excluded from this table.75 .3%) ±.
but felt he should answer such questions if asked. He stated a preference for refraining from interfering during communicative activities unless there was a problem with message comprehension. Steve believed that the role of the teacher in communicative lessons should be as a resource for students to consult if needed and not as a director. in accordance with his conviction that the teacher should serve as a resource during a communicative task. Table 5 shows that the proportion of student-initiated FFEs in Steve's lesson was high (51. in contrast to his stated beliefs. and ROD ELLIS 259 . Steve said that he was not keen on student-initiated language queries. .5 per cent) and mostly used informs (64. . He stressed several times in the in-depth interview that communicative lessons should not be about accuracy and that he was `very suspicious of error correction'.HELEN BASTURKMEN. .4 per cent). He felt his role should be to indicate that an error had occurred. but not actually to repair it. Congruence between Steve's stated beliefs and practices was evident in that the fact that. and pointed out that the research literature reports that correction of errors does not lead to immediate acquisition. . He reported the techniques he used. Steve rarely used elicitation in response to FFEs (6. he felt. few FFEs in Steve's lesson arose from problems in message comprehension (19. The lesson had been truly communicative. Steve did not emphasize any particular aspects of language for focusing on. Otherwise there were a number of incongruences between stated beliefs and practices. expressed his view that learning takes time. He talked of wanting students to feel safe. such as the `thumbs down' sign. he believed that special attention should be paid to language forms that had been taught in previous lessons. Steve had nothing to say about the need for focus on form to be unobtrusive. He recalled one particularly successful lesson in which just a few students had turned up to class.6 per cent). It was successful he felt because it was `directed by the students not by me'. even though Steve's beliefs about this issue were mixed. . and in contrast to Steve's stated belief that he should refrain from interfering in communicative activities unless there was a problem in message comprehension. He described this as a discussion in which the students had led the discourse. Yet Steve also stated his belief that errors related to target (that is taught) structures should be corrected: `Target structures are fresh in the students' minds and should be worked on while hot' (response to scenario 6). however. because he had what he termed a `natural' conversation. I'd wait'. In his response to scenario 4. Steve was inconsistent about why to focus on form. Finally. Also.5 per cent). for example. he stated that if diculties with language forms `were not impeding a ¯uent exchange. SHAWN LOEWEN. Steve believed self-correction was the best form of error correctionÐ`self correction is my favoured mode' (response to scenario 4). in the Prisoner Task the students were working on their own for approximately two-thirds of the time.
Although he stated a preference for not stopping the ¯ow of communication. Mark stated a preference for student selfcorrection (for example in response to scenario 5). he also referred to the importance of helping students with pronunciation and vocabulary. One possible explanation for these apparent inconsistencies can be found in his statements of belief about aective variables (for example his appraisal of the class mood and of . . and (2) time should be taken out from communicative activities to deal with issues of language form only when necessary for understanding. His lack of enthusiasm for student-initiated language queries was revealed again in his response to stimulated recall episode 2: `If I was asked directly . . . . so if I am asked directly I suppose I usually give them the answer'. But if I feel some obstacle is impeding the ¯ow of communication. He made statements. . Mark saw communication as paramount. He felt that students should try their best to solve language problems for themselves rather than asking him: `I do prefer them to work things out' (response to scenario 2). Mark appeared to be inconsistent in his beliefs about error correction. . such as: `communication is more important than going into linguistic forms'. `I don't like to impede communication unnecessarily (response to scenario 4) and `I didn't want to stop the communication' (stimulated recall). Elsewhere in the interview. . When presented with examples of recasts in the interview. a technique allowing the teacher to provide linguistic information indirectly and unobtrusively. . He stated `I will actually allow linguistic form to lie dormant. Yeah that's typical to actually give them the word without it seeming like I'm giving them the word' (stimulated recall). . Corollaries of this belief were (1) that time-outs from communication to deal with linguistic form should be as short as possible and unobtrusive. Mark emphatically stated `Pronunciation is important!' He also talked about helping students when they are struggling with vocabulary as a legitimate `time-out' from actual communication. he also stated a preference for recasting. Mark referred mostly to pronunciation and vocabulary rather than to grammar in discussing his ideas about communicative instruction. However. in response to one scenario. and I will allow communication to continue.260 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Mark The following are the main themes to emerge from the analysis of Marks' beliefs about focus on form: . then I think it is very important to stop' (in-depth interview). For example. He stated his preference for providing error correction after a communicative activity via some whole-class activity (in-depth interview). . it would be unfair of me not to give them a word . he stated that this type of response was `de®nitely typical of me.
2 per cent) and vocabulary (50 per cent) than grammar (20. Table 5 shows that Mark often interrupted the ¯ow of the activity to focus on error correction on the spot (61.5 per cent). In regard to other language areas (such as pronunciation and vocabulary). his actual practice of error correction did not accord closely with his stated beliefs. He recalled a recent successful communicative lesson as a `desert island consensus activity . more of the FFEs initiated by Mark were concerned with pronunciation (29. Table 5 shows also that. and ROD ELLIS 261 the con®dence of individual students) aecting decision making about whether to do error correction. . the groups of language that we had gone through in that lesson were being used particularly well and I remember coming away from that thinking. there were few instances of student-initiated language queries (23. . It is also possible that the behaviour of Mark's students in this respect re¯ects their perceptions of their teacher's attitude to this aspect of focus of form.HELEN BASTURKMEN. .2 per cent).9 per cent of the episodes arose because of diculties in understanding (see Table 5). In his interview he made continual references to `target grammar structures'. There were also some of Marks' practices that seemed incongruent with his beliefs.1 per cent) in Mark's lesson. He also stated that the class often had grammar lessons `perhaps 90 or 100 per cent' of lessons (in-depth interview). Additionally.8 per cent). Rick had a more `it depends' policy and stated that his decisions as to . we'll do that with it again in the next course' (in-depth interview). the great majority (73. Rick The main themes to emerge from the analysis of Rick's beliefs about focus on form were as follows: . and only 26. Although Mark clearly indicated that he thought he should attend to form only when there was a breakdown in communication. negotiations . Table 5 shows this belief was re¯ected in his practice. The relationship between Mark's stated beliefs and his practice showed a mix of congruence and incongruence. Congruent with his stated beliefs. He responded to errors with recasts (as indeed he claimed he did). . whereas he had in fact stated that he believed error correction was best done after the task was ®nished. but he rarely used elicitation to allow students to self-correct even though he had indicated the desirability of doing this.1 per cent) of the FFEs in Mark's lesson had their source as code. The FFEs in his lesson were predominantly short and simple (69. Mark stated that timeouts from communication to deal with language form issues should be as short as possible and unobtrusive. SHAWN LOEWEN. He talked about writing up on the board each day the structure of the day. . largely in line with his stated views on student queries about language forms. Also. Rick believed that grammar was particularly important.
. Rick's view that the students should be using the target structure was repeated again and again: `the students should use the target grammatical structure' (in-depth interview). A corollary of his belief about the importance of grammar was that Rick viewed communicative lessons primarily as a means to practise grammar items taught in previous lessons. `I would be using a communicative activity to give the students the opportunity to use that item' (in-depth interview). and `the target language simply wasn't being used and I thought ok we can stop this and revisit this' (stimulated recall). using the expressions `in and out' and `unobtrusive' to refer to his preferred strategy. However. . He stated. done . . In relation to error correction and discussion of language issues. For Rick communicative lessons are `the place to work on language . previously' (stimulated recall) and his criteria for a successful communicative lesson was that `the form has been used accurately and successfully and regularly' (in-depth interview). he also felt they should be corrected: `I would correct it if it was the target language of the lesson (Response to scenario 3). In terms of teacher responses to language queries and problems during communicative activities. Thus. Rick believed that there was a need to avoid what he termed `disjointing the discourse' (response to scenario 1). He was distrustful of this implicit form of error correction because it does not signal clearly enough to students that an error occurred and gives a mixed message: `just saying your behaviour (not your behaving) con®rms to them that they are being understood' (response to scenario 4). Rick expressed a strong preference for student self. Rick expressed inconsistent beliefs about why to focus on form. Because Rick saw targeted grammatical structures as important. He stated that he . or I would insist on them using it' (in-depth interview). . he stated that it is preferable to `try to get it over as quickly as possible' (stimulated recall). .262 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES . whether to intervene were tempered with considerations about the relative importance of the error (stimulated recall). in relation to one scenario he stated that the only legitimate time-outs from communicative activities were when there was a problem with meaning. He stated that a legitimate time-out from communicative activities was when there was incorrect use of a previously taught grammatical form. . `I wouldn't like them to go through a lesson on a particular item. . Rick believed that error correction should be explicit: `Unless correction is done fully (directly) it can lead to con®rmation of the mistake' (scenario 1). He talked about the need for focus on form to be brief.and peer-correction. So I would manipulate that activity so that they either had to use it. . Rick stated that he did not see recasts as an eective way of correcting student errors. Rick expressed his belief that focus on form including error correction should be unobtrusive. get to the communicative activity and then not need to use it.
Table 5 shows that the preponderance of FFEs in Rick's lesson concerned grammatical structures (51.HELEN BASTURKMEN. longer and thus more obtrusive). contrary to his stated belief. Yet elsewhere he talked of success in terms of students using the target structure accurately and of the need to interrupt them if they do not do so. At one point he stated he thought he should try to `get around it. and not stopping the ¯ow of a communicative activity.1 per cent). There was no evidence of his using the Prisoner Task to focus on pre-targeted structures. he stated he believed he should supply linguistic information even if this was not essential for meaning. for Rick. a ®nding that was congruent with his stated beliefs. gender pronouns. although he stated that he should attend to student-initiated problems. plurals. . Rick spoke strongly and often of his belief that any focusing on form in a communicative activity should be done unobtrusively. However. and very few episodes arose as a result of diculties in message comprehension. Table 5 also shows that. which was in line with the high number of reactive FFEs (82 per cent) in his lesson that con®rmed his preparedness to address learner errors. prepositions) in much the same way as the other teachers. but. in spite of this. In two particular respects Rick's stated beliefs were congruent with his practices. In other respects. on the grounds that `the success of interaction is more important to the students than accuracy'. Table 5 shows that. since `students look to the teacher for guidance and recommendations of appropriate language'. SHAWN LOEWEN. between trying to get the students to use the targeted language items correctly. I'd prefer them to carry on talking' (response to stimulated recall episode 2). elsewhere (response to scenario 2). conditionals. or indeed con¯ict. the great majority of FFEs in Rick's lesson (90 per cent) concerned code. there appeared to be a tension. Rick used recasts (an indirect correction technique) more often (58 per cent) than other error correction types. there were only a few student-initiated episodes (12. there was incongruence. in fact he addressed a range of grammatical items (for example. Thus.8 per cent) in his lesson. Further incongruences between stated beliefs and practices were evident in how errors were corrected. Rick also had inconsistent beliefs about students raising questions about language forms during communicative activities. and ROD ELLIS 263 would not interrupt the communicative activity. Also. however. he manifested a fairly high rate of complex episodes in his lesson. in contrast to his somewhat inconsistent beliefs regarding whether to address code or communicative problems. Rick also said several times that he believed he should avoid stopping the ¯ow of a communicative activity. Rick's stated belief about the purpose of communicative activities (that is to provide opportunities for practising grammatical structures) was also not clearly re¯ected in his focus on form practices. Secondly he talked a good deal (if somewhat inconsistently) about accuracy. Table 5 shows that 44 per cent of the episodes were complex (that is.
Finally. source = message). the three teachers were teaching students of the same pro®ciency level in the same institution and were using the same communicative task. source = code) whereas in fact all three stated that form should be focused on only when there was a problem of comprehension (that is. These dierences in practice are evident in the summary provided in Table 6. There are some points at which the teachers' practices clearly re¯ect their beliefs (for example their lack of enthusiasm for student initiated FFEs) and several where they do not. on the grounds that this would interrupt the communicative ¯ow of the lesson. The teachers all expressed very de®nite beliefs about how to focus on form. the results showed a number of striking similarities in the three teachers' management of focus on form in the Prisoner Task. Steve predominantly dealt with student errors by providing linguistic information. and this was re¯ected in this teacher's stated beliefs (for example Mark used more recasts than either Rick or Steve and also stated a preference for this type of response). There were three aspects of focus on form (type. that is. and response) where the teachers' diered amongst themselves. as stated earlier. there were also a number of dierences (see Loewen 2003). then.264 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Summary In order to highlight the main areas where the teachers' beliefs and practices were congruent and incongruent. is to be found in the personal teaching styles of the three teachers and the belief systems that underlie these styles. However. Table 6 summarizes their beliefs and practices in relation to the main features of focus on form. A good example concerns the source of FFEs. DISCUSSION The ®rst research question concerned whether the teachers' practices regarding focus on form diered. For example. The second research question addressed the nature of the teachers' beliefs about focus on form. These dierences cannot be readily explained by contextual factors. since. All three teachers focused on form predominately for its own sake (that is. and the extent to which their beliefs were internally consistent. all three teachers were unenthusiastic about students initiating FFEs. including their notions of what communicative language teaching entailed. where the motivation for the episode was the `code'. A more likely explanation for the dierences. There are also several cases where one teacher's practice diered from the other two. and two aspects (linguistic focus and source) where there were no dierences. Overall. But there were also cases where a teacher's practice diered from the other two even though this did not correspond to his stated belief (for example. they all expressed . complexity. All three teachers stated that it was important not to attend to form unless this was needed to address a problem of understanding. whereas he stated that student self-correction was preferable). In a number of respects their beliefs were the same.
All three teachers made similar statements All three teachers made similar statements Practice re¯ected in beliefs No `previously taught' linguistic structures were identi®ed in the FFEs. although his practice diered signi®cantly from the other two teachers. simple FFEs Preferred unobtrusive FFEs Preferred student self-correction Steve's higher frequency of studentinitiated FFEs is re¯ected in (one of) his beliefs. Practice re¯ected in beliefs. . No `previously taught' linguistic structures were identi®ed in the FFEs. Practice not strongly re¯ected in beliefs. this belief is not expressed by other teachers. and ROD ELLIS 265 Table 6: Summary of main dierences between stated beliefs and focus on form practices FFE feature Teacher Observed preferences Signi®cantly more Student-initiated FFEs Beliefs Comments Type Steve Students should lead the discourse Target incorrect use of previously taught structures Unenthusiastic about studentinitiate FFEs Unenthusiastic about studentinitiated FFEs Preferred reactive FFEs Target incorrect use of previously taught structures Unenthusiastic about studentinitiate FFEs Did not comment about the length or obtrusiveness of FFEs Mark Rick No observed preference Signi®cantly more Reactive FFEs Complexity Steve Signi®cantly more complex FFEs Mark Rick Response Steve Trend towards signi®cantly more simple FFEs No observed preference No observed preference Preferred short. Steve stated no preference for simple or complex FFEs. All three teachers made similar statements Unlike Mark and Rick.HELEN BASTURKMEN. Steve's preference for student self-correction is not strongly re¯ected in his practice. SHAWN LOEWEN.
) Mark Preferred recasting and student selfcorrection Preferred student self-correction Distrusted recasts Rick Linguistic Steve focus No observed preference Preferred grammar (previously taught structures) Only Mark expressed a preference for recasting and this preference is re¯ected in his practice. Mark Rick Source Steve No observed preference No observed preference No observed preference Preferred vocabulary and pronunciation Preferred grammar (recently taught structures) Preferred not to interfere except to deal with comprehension problems Target previously taught structures All three teachers expressed similar statements about focusing on form for the sake of message comprehension. FFE feature Teacher Observed preferences Trend towards signi®cantly more Provide responses Signi®cantly more Elicitation responses Beliefs Comments Response (cont. however. Although all three teachers expressed a preference for student self-correction. the teachers did not dier in that they all focused on form primarily for the sake of linguistic accuracy (i. Mark No observed preference No observed preference Rick Preferred not to interfere unless necessary for communication Preferred not to stop the ¯ow of communication Target incorrect use of previously taught structures . Although the three teachers expressed some dierences in beliefs.e. no statistically signi®cant dierences were found in the linguistic focus of the FFEs. code).266 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Table 6: cont. Rick had signi®cantly more elicitation responses.
the teachers demonstrated inconsistency with regard to their beliefs about the importance of not interfering with the communicative ¯ow of the lesson. All three teachers demonstrated inconsistencies in their stated beliefs about focus on form. It is noticeable that Rick. thus making it more accessible. there were clear dierences in their beliefs. when confronted with contexts from the classroom. who found that teachers `held varying. It is perhaps not surprising that there were dierences in their beliefs. or to address student-initiated enquiries about form. even fragmentary views' of CLT. Inexperienced teachers such as Rick may ®nd it especially dicult to integrate their technical and practical knowledge. given the complexity of focus on form as a behavioural phenomenon and individual dierences (for example. It is possible that over time teachers will be able to proceduralize their technical knowledge. Mark indicated a preference for focusing on vocabulary and pronunciation. The results also con®rm the ®ndings of a study by Sato and Kleinsasser (1999: 510). and ROD ELLIS 267 a preference for student self-correction. giving support to the arguments of Grotjahn (1991) and Schutz (1970) that beliefs need not necessarily be consistent.HELEN BASTURKMEN. and their beliefs about the need to focus on errors relating to previously taught structures. with regard to experience) between the teachers. It should be noted. In such cases. In particular. Mark's belief in the utility of recasting learners' deviant utterances on-line. Inconsistencies emerged with regard to reactive FFEs (for example. that experienced doctors tend to rely on their knowledge of previous cases rather . Schutz states that a person `may consider statements as equally valid which are in fact incompatible with one another' (p. However. versus his belief that error-correction was best delayed until the task was completed). the inconsistencies may disappear with experience. For example. whereas Rick and Steve both felt it was desirable to focus their attention on previously taught grammatical structures. the teachers drew on their technical knowledge. the teachers emphasized the need to maintain the communicative ¯ow of the lesson by refraining from correcting errors. the teachers drew on their practical knowledge. One interesting dierence concerned their beliefs about the value of recasts. the least experienced of the three teachers. In other respects. whereas Rick expressed distrust. Ellis 1997). that Eraut's account of the two types of knowledge suggests that such proceduralization often does not occur. for example. both of which are likely to impede the ¯ow. 76). in the abstract. whereas in their responses to the scenarios they indicated their belief in the need for teacher action to address the incorrect use of linguistic forms. How can these inconsistencies in stated beliefs be explained? One possibility is that the statements of belief the teachers made in the abstract (that is in the in-depth interviews) re¯ect technical rather than practical knowledge (Eraut 1994. The explanation for this inconsistency could be that. was also the most inconsistent. Another dierence was evident in their views on what linguistic forms should be the object of focus on form. in the interviews. Mark expressed a clear preference for this type of correction. however. He argues. SHAWN LOEWEN.
Rick talked about the importance of attending to target grammar structures. All three teachers will need to work out just how much attention to form they can give during a task without interfering with the communicative ¯ow. In certain respects the teachers' management of focus on form in the Prisoner Task re¯ected their stated beliefs. Discrepancies between behaviour and beliefs are often attributed to situational constraints (Oskamp 1991. since the prompts did not directly ask them to consider contextual factors in¯uencing the decisions they made. However. they are hot-spots (Woods 1996) that present a challenge to the teacher. The latter are the beliefs that are implied by . Such theories can more easily re¯ect technical knowledge. The third research question concerned the relationship between the teachers' practice of focus on form and their stated beliefs. it should also be acknowledged that the fact that teachers did not refer to any constraints may have resulted from the nature of the elicitations. Mark. thus con®rming Pajares' (1992) conclusion that (stated) beliefs are an unreliable guide to reality. to view these stated beliefs as potentially con¯ictual rather than inherently inconsistent. how many of these grammar items had been previously taught by Rick). It is also possible that the teachers would have been more likely to recall contextual factors in¯uencing their on-line decision-making if the stimulated recall episodes had been recorded on video rather than audio-tape. It may be better. for example. In short. For example. there were also clear examples of mismatches between the teachers' practice and their beliefs. It is. The former are the beliefs people communicate to others and which they are aware of having. as Table 6 shows. we found that in responding to the stimulated recalls. and a higher percentage of the FFEs in his lesson were grammar oriented than in the lessons of the other two teachers (although we do not know. The most obvious example is to be found in the lack of congruence between the teachers' belief that focus on form should arise in response to problems in understanding the students' messages. Vaughan and Hogg 1998).268 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES than on their technical knowledge in handling individual patient consultations. that they are also manifest in the data from the teachers. the teachers' stated beliefs oered only a partial window on practice. However. however. however. They simply justi®ed their actions despite the fact that these actions sometimes contradicted the beliefs they had expressed earlier in the interview. That is. Argyris and Schon (1974: 6±7) make a distinction between `espoused theories' and `theories in use'. However. and the fact that in practice focus on form was motivated by perceived breaches of the code. not surprising. or to delay treatment to later. perhaps. These `tensions' re¯ect major issues to do with the practice of focus on form. the teachers did not refer to constraints or factors hindering them from doing what they should ideally do. will need to work out how far to respond on-line to error through the use of recasts. therefore. issues which remain controversial even at a theoretical level.
Pajares (1992) has argued that inferences about teachers' beliefs should be based on assessments of what teachers say. once you have completed the chart. they are able to reduce the mismatches between their espoused theories and theories in use by proceduralizing their technical knowledge. intend to do. they eradicate the mismatches by bringing their espoused theories more in line with their practical theories. and ROD ELLIS 269 people's behaviour and are based primarily on their practical knowledge. Fill in the chart with the information you get and. `And it probably shows. One teacher.HELEN BASTURKMEN. Steve. The situation: The local prison is so overcrowded that.' How teachers resolve such incongruences remains uncertain. which they develop through experience of `cases' of what works for them. I don't know if there is some inconsistency here on my part or not when I'm looking at it [that is reading the transcript]. which prisoner should be released. as a result. Anne is 37 years old and was a very hard-working and popular doctor. He or she will be able to resume his/her normal life. Final version received January 2003 APPENDIX A: PRISONER TASK Instructions: Read the situation and then read about your prisoner below. Possibly. You will need to agree and ®nally choose one prisoner. The fact that we found tenuous links between the teachers' stated beliefs and their practice of focus on form might be because the links between stated beliefs and incidental behaviours are weaker than those between stated beliefs and planned behaviours (as evident in lesson plans and instructional materials). However. when she was very tired after working 23 hours in the hospital. Make notes under the headings on your chart and then ask the other people in your group about their prisoners using the headings to help you ask the questions. The two sets of beliefs may or may not be compatible and an individual may or may not be aware of any incompatibility between the two. We would agree but add that this may be particularly important for an understanding of teachers' thinking in relation to on-line decision making in the classroom. The present research centred on a phenomenon (focus on form) that arose incidentally as part of the process of accomplishing the task. this remains an issue in need of further study. one will be able to be released immediately. In the stimulated recall he said. she mixed up some medicine and. SHAWN LOEWEN. discuss in your group of four. a child died. Which prisoner should be chosen? Your Prisoner: Anne. but will have to report to the probation ocer regularly and will go back to prison if he/she commits any other crimes. expressed his awareness of some incompatibility. from a group of prisoners who are due to be released on probation in the future. Yeah I think that's probably what was going on. She has served 5 years in prison . such as incidental focus on form. with experience. Once. Enquiry into teachers' beliefs of unplanned elements of teaching needs to be based on both stated beliefs and observed behaviours. and actually do. Possibly.
T: S: T: S: T: have you ever betrayed China no. is this correct? What should I do? Why? APPENDIX D: EXAMPLE OF STIMULATED RECALL In this ®nal part of the interview I am going to ask you about what actually happened during communicative lessons in your classroom and your role as the teacher. The class is working in small groups exchanging information about their future plans. She thinks she has paid for her mistake. . . For each situation. We will listen to a number of episodes (short pieces on interaction) recorded from your teaching. Cue: Why not successful? Could you please complete this sentence in your own words. During communicative activities. please comment on what this is about. a student makes a linguistic error and you respond to it. For each episode. They visit her regularly. She has a mother who is very sick. Then state if this is how you prefer to deal with this kind of event. I am going to ask you about communicative language teaching. 1 Do you sometimes teach communicatively? 2 Tell me about a successful communicative activity you've recently done in your class. Episode 1 In this episode. She has continued to study medicine in prison so she keeps up to date. APPENDIX C: EXAMPLE OF A SCENARIO Below are a number of possible situations that can occur in communicative activities. She was married. One student turns to you and asks ± In the far future. APPENDIX B: SAMPLE QUESTIONS FROM INTERVIEW PROTOCOL First of all. please state what you think you should do and why. She is very positive about the future and thinks she should be allowed to practise medicine again once she comes out of prison. never never yeah I'm a patriost a patriot . there are times in my class when I or my students focus on the form of linguistic items because . 1. She has a large family and many nieces and nephews whom she is very close to. Cue: Why was it successful? 3 Tell me about a communicative activity you've recently done in class that you felt was not really successful. Her father is dead. but her marriage broke up after she went to prison.270 INCIDENTAL FOCUS ON FORM AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES already.
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