The effect of input enhancement and concordance-based activities on Iranian EFL learners' acquisition and retention of phrasal verbs.
Phrasal verbs are commonly used in spoken English but they are difficult for learners to acquire. This is mainly because such verbs, in their combinations with various prepositional/adverbial particles, often exhibit figurative senses not readily clear to the learner. Due to the problems experienced by Iranian EFL learners in acquiring phrasal verbs, this study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of reading with input enhancement and concordance-based materials on 60 Iranian EFL learners' acquisition and retention of phrasal verbs. To this end, three intact classes were assigned to: 1) reading with input enhancement group, 2) concordance-based group, and 3) a control group. These classes had equal numbers of participants and prior to the treatment, participants were asked to complete a pre-test to ascertain their unfamiliarity with the target phrasal verbs. After a ten-session treatment period, the production and retention of the target phrasal verbs were tested through a post-test and a delayed posttest. The results of the ANOVA revealed the superiority of the reading with input enhancement group over concordance-based group in both acquisition and retention of phrasal verbs. In addition, through Pearson Correlation it was found that the knowledge of phrasal verbs has a positive relationship with learners' cloze reading comprehension. The study concluded with some pedagogical implications.
The importance of vocabulary learning comes from the fact that lexical items carry the basic information and the meaning that learners wish to comprehend and express (Read 2004). Learning phrasal verbs along with vocabulary learning is considered one of the important aspects of foreign language acquisition because they make learners' speech more natural since they are characteristics of colloquial or informal language and tend to occur more in conversational speech than in academic discourse. A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and one or two particles. The particle is an adverb, a preposition or both. These verb-particle combinations are complex verbs that consist of two or more lexical items. As cited in Armstrong (2009), some analysts call such combinations complex predicates (e.g., Ackerman and Webelhuth 1998), some call them multi-word verbs (e.g., Parrott 2000), while others separate them into phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs (e.g., Palmer 1974).
It is important that all learners develop at least a receptive awareness, which will help them decode the phrasal verbs that they encounter in spoken and written texts, while those learners aspiring to be expert users need to be able to produce at least the more common phrasal verb combinations appropriately (Armstrong 2009).
Although phrasal verbs are extensively covered in English Language Teaching (ELT) textbooks, yet they remain difficult for learners who are learning English as a foreign language. Maybe the reason for this difficulty is partly because there are so many of them, and also because the combination of verb and particle seems so often completely random. These difficulties are sometimes increased by the way in which phrasal verbs are presented in course books or by teachers telling students that they will just have to learn them by heart. Many EFL teachers tell their students that they need to learn phrasal verbs by heart, thus, indirectly implying that there is no organized or systematic method to achieve such a task (Al-Sibai 2003). This view is further aggravated by the fact that the combinations of verbs and particles, found in phrasal verbs, seem so often to be completely random.
Some phrasal verbs are very easy to understand. For example, it is not difficult to understand sit down or come in because their meanings are obvious. But many phrasal verbs are very idiomatic. Idiomatic means that there is no way to know what the verb and particle mean together by knowing what the verb and particle mean separately. For example, students learn what the words make, go, out and off mean, but that does not help them to know that go off means explode or that make out means understand (Matlock and Heredia 2002).
Phrasal verbs are considered problematic for a number of reasons. First, phrasal verbs contain two or more words working together, making them difficult to recognize as a single semantic unit. If a learner does not know that a string of words is a phrasal verb, he/she is likely to decode the meanings of the individual words (Siyanova and Schmitt 2007). Second, these verbs have to be acquired, stored and retrieved from memory as a holistic unit (Wray and Perkins 2000). Third, the meanings of multi-word verbs vary from quite easy for example: "get back from a trip = return," to very difficult, for example: "brush up on your English = revise." The difficulty of such verbs comes from the fact that their meaning is idiomatic and there is a mismatch between the idiomatic meaning and the meanings of the individual words in the verb. An additional complication is that certain multi-word verbs are polysemous, for example, "bring up the tools from the basement = carry them up," "bring up children = nurture," "bring up a suggestion = mention" (Biber et al. 1999).
There is also grammatical difficulty in using phrasal verbs because the learner must know whether the verb allows particle movement or not. Most phrasal verbs allow particle movement while most prepositional verbs do not (Wyss 2002).
EFL learners are totally unfamiliar with these verbs and they lack the strategies to deal with them (Ghabanchi and Goudarzi 2012). Therefore, most learners tend to avoid using these verbs. Therefore, phrasal verbs should be given a greater emphasis with the goal of achieving effective and efficient communication in the English speech community rather than the use of those academic words.
Much effort has been devoted to addressing the relative effectiveness of various pedagogical interventions (Doughty 1991; Long 1991; Norris and Ortega 2000). In the same vein, a growing body of visual input enhancement studies has tapped the possibility of making input more perceptible to second language learners by employing enhancement techniques with typographical cues (e.g., underlining, boldfacing, italicization, capitalization or other strategies such as color coding). In this way texts with input enhancement are used to make a target form perceptually salient in order to facilitate the processing of that form (Lee and Huang 2008).
Regarding concordancing, which is a means of accessing a corpus of text to show how any given word or phrase is used in the immediate contexts in which it appears (Pennington and Richards 1997, as cited in Koosha and Jafarpour 2006), a learner of English who wants to become familiar with a certain phrasal verb and wants to know its meaning and its application in different texts, can use a concordance program. This learner would see a long list of actual uses of the phrasal verb. These uses occur in the form of portions of sentences, with the keyword positioned in the middle of them. The purpose of the concordance program is to produce such a list. Each example of the keyword in use is a concordance, and the concordancing program provides a series of concordances, as reflected in the following samples for the phrasal verb "bring about":
* these basic doctrines have sometimes brought about civil crises within the community
* has played an important role in bringing about unity on the physical plane while
* the role of each religion is to seek to bring about peace and to accentuate religious
* might cook our supper, and the notion brought about the same smile, I swear, as Winn.
* promising to work within the system to bring about gradual change and revolution
The information above is known by the more technical term, "concordance output." Learners can study this output, or information, closely and see how a keyword operates in context with closely related words.
The greatest asset of the concordancing materials is that they make it easier for learners to discover relevant patterns of language use. Computerized concordances can help resolve the lack of authentic materials by bringing authenticity into the classroom (Wu, Witten and Franken 2010).
For that reason, due to the problems experienced by Iranian EFL learners in acquiring phrasal verbs, this study was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of teaching phrasal verbs through reading with input enhancement activities and concordancing materials.
Textual input enhancement
The idea of textual input enhancement, which was first introduced by Sharwood Smith (1993), is that the manipulation of the texts through different typographical changes such as boldfacing, italicizing, underlining or capitalizing, increases the perceptual saliency of the target structures, and this, hence, increases their chance of being noticed. Some researchers claim that the use of varied typographical cues increases the physical salience of input (Izumi 2002; Lee 2007; Lee and Huang 2008). In addition, when the input is made physically salient, it is likely to gather more attention from the learner, which will facilitate the processing of the input (Goldschneider and Dekeyser 2005; C. J. Doughty 2003; Gass and Mackey 2002).
According to Doughty and Williams (1998) input enhancement has two forms; a) typographical enhancement and b) intonational enhancement. The former relates to providing learners with textual input-enhancement through holding, underlining, and highlighting the target features. The latter relates to providing oral input-enhancement through the use of pronunciation such as intonational changes or pitch.
Lee and Huang (2008) have conducted a meta-analytic review of the effect of input enhancement on grammar learning. They systematically synthesized 16 studies in this area. The results indicated that second language readers provided with enhancement-embedded texts barely outperformed those who were exposed to unenhanced texts with the same target forms.
In spite of the positive effects of input enhancement on acquisition and comprehension, Lee (2007) argued that learners' comprehension might be negatively affected by attention-drawing visual input enhancement techniques and proposed that a balanced amount of intervention to teach second language forms during reading would be needed.
Considering the diverse study features regarding different aspects of phrasal verbs, the different methods used in teaching them, and conflicting results regarding positive effect and ineffectiveness of input enhancement from previous studies, we feel that the results of the present study would make the teaching of phrasal verbs through input enhancement clearer.
The basis of concordancing goes back to Data-Driven Learning (DDL). DDL first coined by Johns in 1994 is a method in which learners read large amounts of authentic language and try to discover linguistic patterns and rules by themselves. Samples of authentic language for preparing DDL exercises are usually taken from linguistic corpora. Corpus refers to a big collection of naturally occurring language produced by native speakers which is gathered from both spoken and written language. According to Johns (1994), the use of concordancing in language learning has three advantages. First, it interjects authenticity into the learning process. Second, learners assume control of their learning. Third, it builds learners' competence by giving them access to the facts of linguistic performance.
The proponents of DDL take it as a synonym for task-based learning in which some activities are given to the learners who are asked to find patterns and rules of linguistic materials presented to them. Therefore, it is claimed that DDL is only useful for the learners at advanced levels (Johns 1994).
Cobb (1992) believes that concordancers can be used in cloze exercises. When students want to know more about a word in a gap, they can see a concordance of that word used elsewhere.
Tribble and Jones (1990) state that concordancers isolate frequent patterns in the target language by using a format called keyword-in-context (KWIC). In this way language learners can focus on the main item of the study which is situated in the center of the page. Thus it can be concluded that concordance-based materials which present a word or phrase in different context can make its meaning clear to learners.
According to Willis (1988), concordance-based materials have four advantages. First, they help the learners to determine the different meanings of the keyword. Second, they make learners aware of the typical collocations that words usually keep. Third, they represent certain language features that are typical of some kind of text or register. Finally, they display the structure of both written and spoken discourse. In addition, Schmidt (1990) argues that concordances can help learners to enhance their consciousness-raising activities and to become aware of language use. (As cited in Koosha and Jafarpour 2006.)
The main idea behind the use of concordances is that it emphasizes both deductive and inductive learnings (Koosha and Jafarpour 2006). But it seems that utilizing concordancers in teaching is not popular among EFL teachers in Iran. This has resulted in the lack of using the corpus-based materials in the classroom. In addition, those studies which are done in this area have focused mostly on the effect of concordancing materials on learning collocational patterns and almost no studies have been done to investigate their effects on acquisition of phrasal verbs. For example, Lai Phool Ching and Irene F. H Wong (1994) have used concordance-based materials for teaching verb inflections. They reported that the method was very effective and the students liked the approach because KWIC format in concordancing made it very easy for them to learn the correct verb forms. According to their study, the success of concordance-based materials lies in the fact that the students can see grammar in use, not in theory alone.
Sun and Wang (2003) examined the relative effectiveness of inductive and deductive approaches to learning grammatical collocations at two levels of difficulty through the use of online concordancers. Their results showed that an inductive approach resulted in significantly higher learning gains, particularly in the case of the so-called easy collocations. (The authors classified collocations into two categories: easy and difficult, although no classification criteria were outlined).
Regarding the effectiveness of concordancing material on learners' writing, Sun (2007) found that concordancing tools serve as a useful language template that enables learners to search for particular word occurrences in a given context, to compare learners' own textual productions with concordance sentences and to identify areas of their deficiency.
Concordance-based materials are used in this study in order to teach phrasal verbs and to provide more exposure for learners in different contexts. Using a concordancer to analyze and present phrasal verbs may also lead to better retention of vocabulary items. Concordancing provides for multiple or repeated exposures, and in using a concordancer students are likely to be motivated by the "need" to use phrasal verbs in their communications (Wu et al 2010).
STUDIES ON TEACHING AND LEARNING PHRASAL VERBS
The issue of how best to teach phrasal verbs is still quite controversial. Traditional approaches to the teaching of phrasal verbs have tended to focus on the syntactic rules, i.e. whether they are transitive/ intransitive, and, if the former, whether they are separable or not. This is totally mystifying for most learners (Thornbury 2011). Information about the transitivity of phrasal verbs and the word order of the elements of the phrasal verbs and their objects is included in the native speakers' linguistic competence. This information is unconscious and not readily retrievable (Matlock and Heredia 2002). As it is indicated by Matlock and Heredia (2002), native speakers of English also know that the meanings of some combinations can be worked out from the sum of the meanings of their parts, but other combinations are like idioms and cannot be unpacked in this way. By using their unconscious knowledge, native speakers have no problem in decoding the meaning of some phrasal verbs such as "put up," "made up," etc. But this is not the case for EFL learners because EFL learners do not have this competence. The present study follows the definition of Oxford Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs (2000, 183): "a phrasal verb is a verb that consists of two or three words. Most phrasal verbs consist of two words; the first word is a verb and the second word is a particle. The particle is either an adverb or a preposition."
In his paper, Armstrong (2009) looks at language awareness in relation to the teaching of verb-plus-particle combinations in English. He suggests that the difficulty second language learners of English have with phrasal verbs may be partly due to the fact that their language teachers are not sufficiently aware of the semantic systems and regularities underlying these complex combinations. Teachers of English need to recognize that the main difficulty that learners face in decoding phrasal verbs lies in their semantic rather than their syntactic complexity. The teacher needs to be consciously aware of an analysis that can explain this semantic complexity. He proposes an analysis for the semantic complexity of phrasal verb system based on two parameters of transitivity and compositionality.
Cirocki (2003) is a proponent of the "text / context" method. In an interesting article he outlines the development of a technique which involves teaching phrasal verbs by means of constructing texts through what is called a "production" exercise. Cirocki proposes that students should be encouraged to read a passage where phrasal verbs are presented in real contexts and then deduce their exact meanings as well as determine if they are transitive or intransitive, separable or inseparable, etc. In this way, the text contained in the passage becomes a kind of a background formed to serve as a context through which new phrasal verbs are presented and explained. Employing such a technique, the meanings of various phrasal verbs should become clearer and easier to comprehend. Cirocki (2003) also advises teachers to construct fill-in-the-blanks exercises which can enable students to memorize such verbs faster and more accurately. He suggests that students should be presented with varying kinds of topics and texts that are rich in phrasal verbs and which can challenge their imagination. In his opinion, such a technique should enable students to apply long term memory and, thus, make use of newly-acquired phrasal verbs in everyday conversation or even in formal speeches or essay writing.
Contextualized teaching of phrasal verbs is also supported by Wyss (2002). He observes that learners need a meaningful contextual background in order to reinforce memory and sustain interest. Hence, he suggests that a practical solution for learners would be to deduce the meanings of phrasal verbs as they appear in reading passages. Wyss advises teachers to present their students with various texts--articles, books, etc. that contain a rich mix of phrasal verbs. In turn, the students should be encouraged to find these verbs and make careful guesses as to the meaning of each one based on the surrounding linguistic context of which it appears.
There are also some studies in the area of how to teach phrasal verbs done in Iran. For example, Ganji (2011) investigated three different ways of teaching phrasal verbs (Translation, Sentential Contextualization and Metaphorical Conceptualization) to Iranian EFL learners. The findings revealed that metaphor has a central position in memorization, retention and prediction of the meaning of phrasal verbs. In another study, Farsani et al (2012) investigated whether pedagogical, picture-cued tasks revealing image-schematic concepts behind phrasal verbs would facilitate learners' inferences from their concrete to more abstract senses. It also aimed to find out if such tasks would help enhance participants' acquisition and use of such verbs. The results from this study lend strong support to the basic hypothesis that a CL-inspired approach to the instruction of EPVs enhances EFL learners' acquisition of these verbs. Khatib and Ghannadi (2011) investigated the effectiveness of interventionist and non-interventionist approaches to the recognition and production of phrasal verbs. The results of the study revealed the superiority of interventionist groups over the non-interventionist group in both recognition and production of phrasal verbs. In addition, in their study the interventional explicit group greatly outperformed the interventional implicit group in both recognition and production.
To address some of the gaps in the existing literature reviewed above, the present study addressed the following questions:
1. Is there any significant difference between reading with input enhancement group and concordancing group in terms of their influence on EFL learners' acquisition of phrasal verbs?
2. Is there any significant difference between reading with input enhancement group and concordancing group in terms of their influence on EFL learners' retention of phrasal verbs?
3. Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners' knowledge of phrasal verbs and their reading comprehension?
Design of the study
The design of the present study was quasi-experimental because there was no chance of random assignment of the participants. The data were gathered in five weeks and the participants were assigned to three groups: 1. input enhancement, 2. concordance-based activities and 3. control group. The independent variables were learning conditions and dependent variables were the students' mean scores on the posttest and delayed posttest.
The population of the present study was composed of three intact classes in a private language institute in Iran. All the learners were female and their ages ranged from 17 to 25. These 60 learners were assigned to two experimental groups (EG1 = reading with input enhancement and EG2 = concordance-based materials) and one control group. Each group had equal numbers of participants that is, 20 learners in each group. All learners were upper intermediate students.
Six main passages were used in this study. They were taken from an online website http://efltheatreclub.co.uk/web_documents/phrasal_verb_story_-_put. doc. These passages contained phrasal verbs of some very common verbs such as "go," "make," "put," "turn," "bring," and "look." The criterion for selecting passages in which phrasal verbs are embedded is based on the frequency of phrasal verbs and their levels of difficulty appropriate for upper-intermediate level. The phrasal verbs in these passages were written in bold. At the end of each reading passage there were some comprehension questions followed by some activities such as fill in the blanks, matching the phrasal verb with its definition and reconstruction tasks in the form of paraphrasing.
Concordance-based materials were taken from http://www.collinslanguage. com/content-solutions/wordbanks. They were lists of a certain word used in a text together with the context in which the word appears. The keywords (here phrasal verbs) were placed in the middle of the lines and the context was sorted on the left and right of the keyword. This concordancing was done by analyzing the corpus through a computer program. More specifically, concordance-based materials were several sentence examples in which a special word or grammatical point (here phrasal verbs) has been used. After gathering these sentences they were written under each other and may be cut from the beginnings and ends to be shortened for the purpose of centralizing the intended word or grammatical point in the middle of each line. This results in incomplete sentences, but it helps the teachers to sort the target word which is common in all the sentences exactly under each other. Through using this technique the attention of the learners is attracted to the intended word and its immediate context in different sentences. Then the learners can get familiar with the new word or grammatical point. The printouts of these incomplete sentences were given to learners for self-discovery learning. Then a set of tasks such as guessing the keyword in context, gapping task (some groups of concordances were given in which the same phrasal verb was missing and the participants were required to guess the missing phrasal verb) and collocation task (collocates of the phrasal verbs, that is, the related preposition, have been taken out of the lines and the learners were asked to put the correct collocates back in the blank spaces from the list given) were given to the learners in order to check their learning gains.
Word specification test. In order to select target phrasal verbs to be included in the post test and in the treatment, authors constructed a word specification test. This word specification test was based on the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) by Paribakht and Wesche (1993). The majority of the phrasal verbs to be included in this test were extracted from reading passages. This test consisted of a list of forty phrasal verbs in which the learners must self-report their knowledge of the presented phrasal verbs in written form. Based on the participants' responses to this test, thirty target phrasal verbs which were commonly unfamiliar to the learners were selected for the study.
Posttest. In the present study a posttest was constructed in order to determine the impact of specific treatments the participants received. This posttest was a production test which involved thirty short texts in order to provide the learners with the proper and sufficient context for the production of intended phrasal verbs. Each short text or statement contained one of the target phrasal verbs which were left blank. Each phrasal verb to be included in the posttest was selected randomly from the target phrasal verbs specified in the word specification test. Since the posttest utilized in this study was researcher-made, its reliability was estimated to be 0.75 through KR-21 method. Needless to say such reliability index proved that the researcher-made test was acceptable for the purpose of the study.
Delayed Posttest. In order to see which group of participants had been able to best retain and remember various aspects of the meaning and use of the phrasal verbs they were taught and thus to see which method of training would yield (more) useful results, the same production test which was already given to participants as the posttest was given to learners as the delayed posttest of the study. This test was again a production test and consisted of thirty short texts in which the selected target phrasal verbs were left blank. This delayed posttest was conducted after a three-week time interval. Since this delayed posttest was exactly the same as the posttest, its reliability and validity were already determined.
Cloze reading test. In order to determine whether there is any relationship between learners' knowledge of phrasal verbs and their reading skill, a reading comprehension test was constructed. This test consisted of two cloze reading passages that contained phrasal verbs which were left blank, and were followed by some multiple-choice items in order for the learners to recognize the appropriate phrasal verb for the blank spaces. The reading passages for the cloze test were taken from http://efltheatreclub.co.uk/ web_documents/phrasal_verb_story_-_put.doc.
All the data was collected over a five-week period (two sessions in a week) in three intact classes. All the participants were upper intermediate. One week before the experiment, all of the participants were administered the word specification test, the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale developed by Paribakht and Wesche (1993), based on which the target phrasal verbs were chosen. In order to give the treatments, two of the groups were chosen as the two experimental groups, that is, input enhancement group and concordance-based group and the third group was the control group for this study. In order to administer the treatment, the input enhancement group was given six main passages in which phrasal verbs were made salient through typographical techniques such as holding, followed by comprehension questions, fill in the blanks, matching the phrasal verb with its definition and reconstruction tasks in the form of paraphrasing. The concordance-based group received concordance-based materials in KWIC format which presented phrasal verbs in the middle of the concordances. The printouts of the concordances were given to learners for self-discovery learning. Learners studied the printouts for about ten minutes and then the meaning of each phrasal verb was discussed in the class. After that learners did the tasks. After a 10-session treatment period, the production of the target phrasal verbs was tested through a posttest. In order to test learners' retention based on the treatments, a delayed posttest was administered after a three week time interval.
For scoring the tests used in this study, raw scores for each participant were calculated. In all the tests each correct response to the test items was given a score of one and incorrect responses received a score of zero. The performance of all groups in the posttest, delayed posttest and reading comprehension test were analyzed using statistical procedures.
It should be noted that all the three groups in this study were taught by the same teacher who was the researcher herself and her knowledge of utilizing input enhancement method and concordancing method was identical.
The first hypothesis stated that there is no significant difference between input enhancement and concordance-based activities in terms of their influence on acquisition of phrasal verbs. In order to investigate the probable difference between the groups (control group, input enhancement group and concordance-based group), One-Way ANOVA was conducted. The result of One-Way ANOVA is displayed in Table 1.
As Table 1 indicates, the significant level is estimated to be less than .05. As a result, the first research hypothesis is rejected. Thus, there is a significant difference between the groups in the acquisition of phrasal verbs. In order to find out the source of the difference between groups, the results of post hoc Scheffe test are presented in Table 2.
According to Table.2, input enhancement group performed differently from both the control and concordance-based group. Considering the fact that the concordance-based group did not perform differently from the control group, it is obvious that only input enhancement had an effect on the students' acquisition of phrasal verbs. In fact, the experimental group which received input enhancement performed better on the post-test.
The second hypothesis maintains that there is no significant difference between input enhancement and concordance-based activities in terms of their influence on retention of phrasal verbs. In order to examine this hypothesis, One-Way ANOVA was conducted. By the use of this test, the two experimental groups and the control group were compared. Tables 3 and 4 provide the results of the ANOVA and post hoc Scheffe test.
As Table 3 indicates, the observed p-value is estimated to be less than the expected p-value (p = .05) thus, the second hypothesis is rejected. To exactly locate where the difference is, post hoc Scheffe test was conducted. In other words, concerning the retention of phrasal verbs, the participants who received input enhancement showed to be superior in the retention of phrasal verbs to those who received concordance-based activities.
The third hypothesis maintains that there is no relationship between learners' knowledge of phrasal verbs and their reading comprehension. In order to test this, Pearson Correlation was conducted. The results which are shown in Table 5 show that the correlation between knowledge of phrasal verbs and reading comprehension is significant. The p value is less than .05 thus, the null hypothesis is rejected. As a result, the knowledge of phrasal verbs and reading comprehension are positively correlated, r (58) = .457, p < .05.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The findings of this study for the first research hypothesis showed that teaching phrasal verbs through input enhancement proved to be considerably effective. The superiority of this method (input enhancement) was found via comparing it with teaching phrasal verbs through concordance-based activities. There was also a control group in order to make sure that the probable improvement of learners is due to the treatment and not just exposure.
The findings showed that input enhancement had a greater power and led to significant results in the use of phrasal verbs. Earlier investigations have also shown the positive effect of this method (input enhancement) on learning second language target features (Shook 1994; Goudarzi and Moini 2012; Rott 1999).
The results of the first research hypothesis of this study are in line with Schmidt's (2001) argument that for input to be processed for acquisition by second language learners, it must first be noticed. According to Schmidt's noticing hypothesis (1994), noticing second language features in the written or spoken input to which second language learners are exposed through reading or listening is "necessary and sufficient for conversion of input into intake and for second language learning to take place" (17).
The most convincing explanation for such findings may come from the work of Sharwood Smith (1993) who first suggested the potential pedagogical benefits of input enhancement. He contended that through input enhancement learners' attention is focused on specific aspects of input and because of this attention, input will change into intake.
The outperformance of participants in input enhancement group in the present study concurs with the findings of Lee and Huang (2008). They indicated that second language readers provided with enhancement-embedded texts outperformed those who were exposed to unenhanced texts.
Kao (2001) stated that teachers and textbook writers often feel the need to direct the learners' attention to a particular linguistic feature. Such salience affects the learners' knowledge and performance in the second language. In the present study the target phrasal verbs were written in bold form in order to become salient and draw learners' attention. Thus, the results were in coordination with Kao's (2001) statements.
As a result of the analysis of the second research hypothesis, it was found that input enhancement led to better retention of phrasal verbs in comparison with concordance-based activities. This actually confirms Schmidt's idea (2001) about the positive effect of input saliency on learners' retention. Schmidt (2001) indicates that enhancing input, using typographical techniques increases the chance that the visually prominent input will he noticed and will thus establish a trace in long-term memory.
These findings regarding the positive effect of input enhancement on learners' retention are also in line with the results of the study done by Goudarzi and Moini (2012). Their study showed that the EFL learners could retain collocations after a specific period of time from the end of the treatment.
Concerning the findings for the third research hypothesis, it may be concluded that knowledge of phrasal verbs enhances learners' reading comprehension. As Clandfield (2003) points out, phrasal verbs' knowledge was found to correlate positively with reading comprehension. In the present study the reading comprehension test was designed in the form of a cloze test. This is in accordance with studies done in the area of vocabulary learning. These studies have shown that a strong relationship exists between knowledge of word meaning and ability to comprehend passages containing those words (Anderson and Nagy 1992).
The present study showed that teaching phrasal verbs in EFL classrooms through input enhancement is positively effective. This may be because of the fact that learners liked input enhancement method better than concordancing method and this interest may have influenced the overall performance of the learners. Regarding the poor efficiency of concordance-based activities, Hadley (2002) indicated that concordance samplers seemed better suited for students in European countries whose educational systems already stress authentic exposure to English. In addition, concordance samplers are too difficult for intermediate students and they should be attempted with very motivated and advanced students. There is also the possibility that the students in the concordance-based group would make incorrect inferences, a concern noted by Hulstijn (1992). More research is necessary to determine if concordance-based activities actually facilitate language learning after the initial stage of consciousness-raising especially in EFL contexts. In addition, further study is needed into the effect of concordancing on other target grammatical forms. The present study included only female learners and there is the possibility that the results might be different if male learners were included. More research is also needed to investigate the effect of gender.
Given the role of phrasal verbs in learners' fluency especially in speaking and their accuracy in reading comprehension texts, EFL teachers are expected to invest more in this area. Based on the results of the present study some pedagogical implications can be made. First, it is hoped that the findings of the present study will encourage EFL teachers to pay closer and more consummate attention to the concepts of "noticing," "input enhancement" and "consciousness raising." Input enhancement is easy to implement and do not seem to be disruptive to any type of curriculum. Moreover, input enhancement can be used before instruction to help prime learners, or during or after instruction to implicitly reinforce target forms. Second, it can be said that EFL learners can take advantage of the results of this study if they become aware of their problems in the use of phrasal verbs. In addition, familiarity with phrasal verbs helps EFL learners to use them in their speaking and writing. This, therefore, improves their general language proficiency. Finally, material developers are also recommended to utilize different textual input enhancement techniques (e.g., holding, underlining, italicizing, color-coding, etc.) as well as consciousness raising activities in their materials. These activities can be used by material developers in order to ensure that certain linguistic forms will be attended by learners. All theories and practices in foreign language teaching aim to find more effective ways of teaching language phenomena and thus enhance learners' learning experiences (Richards and Rogers 2001); the present study is an attempt in the same vein.
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University of Isfahan
TABLE 1. The results of ANOVA (one-way) for the first research hypothesis. Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. Between Groups 223.033 2 111.517 17.035 0 Within Groups 373.15 57 6.546 Total 596.183 59 TABLE 2. The results of post hoc Scheffe test for the first research hypothesis. Methods of Methods of Mean Std. Sig. teaching teaching Difference Error control group concordance-based -1.95 0.8091 0.063 input enhancement -4.7000 * 0.8091 0 concordance-based control group 1.9500 0.8091 0.063 group input enhancement -2.7500 * 0.8091 0.005 input enhancement control group 4.7000 * 0.8091 0 group concordance-based 2.7500 * 0.8091 0.005 materials 95% Confidence Interval Methods of Methods of Lower Bound Upper Bound teaching teaching control group concordance-based -3.984 0.084 input enhancement -6.134 -2.666 concordance-based control group -0.084 3.984 group input enhancement -4.784 -0.716 input enhancement control group 2.666 6.734 group concordance-based 0.716 4.784 materials TABLE 3. The results of ANOVA (One-Way) for the second research hypothesis. Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. Between Groups 127.3 2 63.65 6.411 0.003 Within Groups 565.95 57 9.929 Total 693.25 59 TABLE 4. The results of post hoc Scheffe test for the second research hypothesis. Mean Std. Methods of Methods of teaching Difference Error Sig. teaching (1-J) control group concordance-based -0.35 0.9964 0.94 materials reading -3.2500* 0.9964 0.008 with input enhancement concordance- control group 0.35 0.9964 0.94 based materials reading with input -2.9000* 0.9964 0.019 enhancement reading with control group 3.2500* 0.9964 0.008 input concordance-based 2.9000* 0.9964 0.019 enhancement materials 95% Confidence Interval Methods of Methods of teaching Lower Bound Upper Bound teaching control group concordance-based -2.855 2.155 materials reading -5.755 -0.745 with input enhancement concordance- control group -2.155 2.855 based materials reading with input -5.405 -0.395 enhancement reading with control group 0.745 5.755 input concordance-based 0.395 5.405 enhancement materials TABLE 5. The results of Pearson Correlation. Acquisition Cloze test Acquisition of phrasal verbs Pearson Correlation 1 0.457 ** Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000 N 60 60 Cloze test Pearson Correlation 0.457 1 Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000 N 60 60
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