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Language Teaching Research

Input-based tasks and the

16(2) 253­–279
© The Author(s) 2012
Reprints and permissions: sagepub.
acquisition of vocabulary
DOI: 10.1177/1362168811431378
and grammar:  A process-

product study

Natsuko Shintani
University of Auckland, New Zealand

The study reported in this article investigated the use of input-based tasks with young, beginner
learners of English as a second language by examining both learning outcomes (i.e. acquisition) and
the interactions that resulted from implementing the tasks. The participants were 15 learners,
aged six, with no experience of second language (L2) learning. The target features were 36
vocabulary items (24 nouns and 12 adjectives) and plural -s. The input-based instruction consisted
of three listen-and-do tasks, which were repeated nine times over a five-week period. The analysis
of the process features found that even though the tasks did not require language production,
the learners contributed actively. The tasks resulted in naturalistic conversation, negotiation of
meaning, and ‘focus on form’, all of which have been claimed to facilitate acquisition. The input-
based group improved significantly in both their receptive and productive knowledge of the
vocabulary items and in their receptive knowledge of plural -s over time. They also outperformed
a control group. The study shows that listen-and-do tasks can create contexts for the incidental
acquisition of both vocabulary and grammar and are effective for implementing task-based
instruction for young beginner learners.

task-based language teaching, input-based tasks, vocabulary acquisition, incidental grammar
acquisition, process-product study, young L2 learners, classroom interaction, focus on form

Corresponding author:
Natsuko Shintani, Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics, University of Auckland,
Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
254 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

I Introduction
1  Input-based tasks
Task-based language teaching (TBLT) has generally been conceptualized as involving
production-based tasks. For example, Swan (2005) criticized TBLT on the grounds that
it focuses on ‘pushed output’ and fails to provide opportunities for learners to acquire
‘new linguistic material’ (p. 388). Swan’s criticism seems to be based on the assumption
that tasks must involve interaction and production. Such an assumption is perhaps justi-
fied if one takes a look at the studies that have investigated tasks as the majority of these
have focused on learner production. However, as Ellis (2009) has pointed out, tasks can
also be ‘input-based’. Such tasks can be designed to provide opportunities for learning
the ‘new linguistic material’ that Swan considers necessary.
An input-based task aims to promote interlanguage development by directing learn-
ers’ attention to second language (L2) input through listening or reading without
requiring them to produce the L2. However, L2 production is not prohibited in an
input-based task; learners may elect to respond to the input they receive by engaging
in language production. The input-based tasks were designed to meet Ellis’ (2003) four
defining criteria for a ‘task’:

1. meaning is primary;
2. there is some type of gap (e.g. an information gap);
3. learners are required to use their own linguistic and non-linguistic resources to
communicate; and
4. there is some outcome other than simply the display of correct language.

In the case of (3), learners use their own linguistic resources in conjunction with contextual
information to process the input they are exposed to in an input-based task. ‘Process’
here refers both to comprehending the meaning of the input and, potentially, to attending
to linguistic form (i.e. noticing) when this is required in order to comprehend.
There are different kinds of input-based tasks. An ‘enriched input task’ simply
exposes learners to input that has been devised to include multiple exemplars of spe-
cific target lexical or grammatical items but does not require the learners to demon-
strate that they have successfully processed the input. Studies of enriched input have
investigated L2 acquisition through reading (Krashen, 1989; Nagy, 1997; Paribakht
and Wesche, 1997; Paribakht, 2005) and have shown it can have positive effects on
L2 acquisition. A ‘comprehension-based input task’ not only exposes learners to input
but requires some kind of response to demonstrate that processing has taken place
successfully. In other words, the outcome of the task can only be achieved if the learn-
ers are successful in comprehending the input. A comprehension-based task often
takes the form of a listen-and-do task: a one-way information gap task
that requires learners to listen to commands or descriptions and then perform actions
(e.g. a physical action or pointing to a picture) to show they have understood the
commands. Listen-and-do tasks can be either focused or unfocused depending on
whether or not the task has been designed to induce the processing of some specific,
predetermined linguistic features.
Shintani 255

Studies of listen-and-do tasks have largely employed focused tasks, and have shown
that they can lead to the successful acquisition of the target features. An advantage of
listen-and-do tasks (e.g. Ellis et al., 1999; Loschky, 1994) is that they can cater for begin-
ner learners by providing input adjusted to the learners’ level in order to make it compre-
hensible without requiring any production. Ellis (2009), drawing on Prabhu’s (1987)
work, suggests that a TBLT course for beginners would necessarily have to be based on
input-based tasks as the learners lack the linguistic resources to engage productively in
meaning-focused language use.
The current study investigated focused listen-and-do tasks that were designed to
introduce ‘new linguistic material’ in the form of preselected vocabulary and a specific
grammatical item. As such, the study helps to address a common criticism of task-based
teaching (see, for example, Swan, 2005); namely, that it fails to provide learners with
new language.

2  Role of input in L2 acquisition

The emphasis on the importance of input emerged in the 1960s as a criticism of tradi-
tional production-based teaching methodology. Asher (1977) argued that production is
the result of acquisition, not its cause. Gary and Gary (1981) offered various reasons
why comprehension practice should precede production practice. They argued that
comprehension-based instruction (CBI) takes account of learners’ limited processing
capacity and also fosters ‘acquisition learning’ rather than ‘conscious learning’ (Krashen,
1981). There is also an affective advantage because CBI does not create a potentially
stressful situation for learners by requiring L2 production. CBI is also more efficient
than production-based instruction, especially in a large class, as all the students can read
or listen to the L2 input at the same time. Gary and Gary also argued that ‘comprehen-
sion is inherently communicative’ (1981, p. 5) as the learners need to process the mes-
sage conveyed in the input.
The Input Hypothesis (Krashen, 1982, 1985, 1998) claimed that production serves
only for generating comprehensible input and does not make a direct contribution to
acquisition. Drawing on Krashen’s Input Hypothesis, Long (1983) proposed the
Interaction Hypothesis (IH). The early version of the IH claimed that interactionally
modified input as well as simplified input plays an important role in facilitating L2
acquisition. Interactional modifications occur when a communication problem arises
and the interlocutors engage in the negotiation of meaning to resolve the problem.
Negotiation of meaning has typically been investigated in production-based tasks per-
formed by students working in pairs or small groups. However, it can also take place
in input-based tasks. For example, Ellis et al. (1994) included an input condition that
allowed learners to request clarification if they did not understand the input, and this
resulted in the negotiation of meaning. Ellis and Heimbach (1997) encouraged learners
to negotiate their understanding of directions in a listen-and-do task. These tasks were
input-based tasks but their implementation resulted in the negotiation of meaning.
Again, then, it needs to be emphasized that input-based tasks do not prohibit learners
from interacting; they just do not require them to do so.
256 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

Input processing (VanPatten, 1996) refers to the psychological process involved in

obtaining intake (i.e. those linguistic forms processed in working memory from input by
establishing a connection between a linguistic form and its meaning). This involves
attending to input and making it available for further processing in working memory.
VanPatten proposed a series of default input-processing principles that explain how
learners allocate their attention during online processing of L2 input. These default
principles constrain how learners process input and need to be replaced by target-like
processing strategies in order for acquisition to take place. For example, instruction
needs to help learners pay attention to morphological features in the input to address
VanPatten’s Principal 1(b) (1996, p. 14), that is, ‘learners prefer processing lexical items
to grammatical items (for example morphological markings) for semantic meaning.’
Van Patten (e.g. VanPatten and Cadierno, 1993) has employed structured-input activi-
ties to investigate the effects of Processing Instruction (PI) on L2 acquisition. However,
these structured-input activities are not tasks as defined in this study; that is, it is doubtful
whether they require a primary focus on meaning. According to VanPatten (1996), PI
involves explicit information about the target feature, training in the avoidance of a
default input-processing strategy, and structured input activities. It is likely to direct
learners’ primary attention to form. Although some of the PI studies relied entirely on
structured input (e.g. VanPatten and Oikkenon, 1996) the activities should still not be
regarded as tasks because they involve discrete sentences designed to elicit repeated
processing of the same target feature, and thus the learners are likely to become aware
that the real purpose of the activities is to learn the target structure. In other words, the
activities lead to intentional language learning. In contrast, the input-based activities
used in this study are listen-and-do tasks. They are outcome-oriented and are not designed
to develop the learners’ awareness of the need to learn the target features. They cater for
incidental language learning and in this respect reflect the general purpose of task-based
language teaching.

3  Research on listen-and-do tasks

Much of the research on listen-and-do tasks has been based on the Input Hypothesis and
the Interaction Hypothesis and designed to investigate the effect of different types of
input on learning. A number of studies compared the effects of premodified and interac-
tionally modified input. For example, Loschky (1994) investigated the difference
between three input and interaction conditions: (1) unmodified input with no interaction,
(2) premodified input with no interaction, and (3) unmodified input with the chance for
negotiated interaction. He found that moment-by-moment comprehension was highest in
the negotiated interaction group but that there was no difference between the two non-
interaction groups. Ellis et al. (1994) showed that (1) interactionally modified input
resulted in better comprehension than premodified input and (2) interactionally modified
input led to more new words being acquired than premodified input. Ellis and He (1999)
included an output condition. They used a listen-and-do task to compare the effects of
premodified input, interactionally modified input, and output conditions (when the learn-
ers performed the task in pairs) on vocabulary acquisition. De la Fuente (2002) investi-
gated the effects of negotiation of meaning with and without ‘pushed output’ (Swain,
Shintani 257

1985) by using input-based and production-based tasks. Both of these studies found that
the production-based group outperformed the input-based groups.
However, all of these studies investigated older learners (i.e. high school students or
adult learners) and post-beginners. There have been relatively few studies that have
investigated children or beginner learners. Two studies, however, have investigated
young beginners, and both are relevant to the current study. Ellis and Heimbach (1997)
studied how five- to six-year-old children negotiated word meanings while performing
listen-and-do tasks. The results showed that the children varied in their ability or willing-
ness to negotiate, that they negotiated more effectively when part of a group, that nego-
tiation aided comprehension, that the extent to which individual children negotiated was
not related to their acquisition of word meanings, and that there was no direct relation-
ship between the children’s comprehension of the teacher’s directions and the acquisition
of the target words. Ellis and Heimbach concluded that meaning negotiation may play a
less prominent role in acquisition for children than it does for older learners. Shintani
(2011a), and Shintani and Ellis (2010), compared the effects of listen-and-do tasks and
production-based activities on incidental vocabulary and grammar acquisition by
Japanese children aged six to eight with four to 16 months of experience of L2 instruction.
The results indicated that the listen-and-do tasks were successful in promoting the inci-
dental acquisition of both vocabulary and grammar, and were either more than, or as
effective as, the production-based activities. The tasks proved effective for developing
both the receptive and productive knowledge of vocabulary but only the receptive knowl-
edge of plural -s. Shintani (2011b) compared the process features arising in the performance
of listen-and-do tasks and in present-practice-produce (PPP) instruction. She investigated
six process features:

• the amount of the teacher’s input and the students’ output;

• the degree to which the input was contextualized;
• the opportunities learners had to search for meaning;
• the extent to which the learners controlled the interactions they participated in;
• the characteristics of teacher-initiated exchanges; and
• the characteristics of student-initiated exchanges.

The analysis suggested that the discourse resulting from the listen-and-do tasks
manifested interactional authenticity (i.e. reflected the kinds of interactions that
occur in a non-instructional setting) while that in the production-based activities
resembled pedagogic discourse.
Research on input-based tasks has largely focused on the learning outcomes (the
product). With the exception of Ellis and Heimbach (1997) and Shintani (2011b) no
study has attempted to examine the instructional/ interactional processes that arise when
input-based tasks are performed. The processing instruction (PI) studies, for example,
report results only for learning outcomes (i.e. the test measures of learning). They pro-
vide no information about the interactions that arose during task performance. In fact, it
is not even made clear if any interaction occurred. The current study attempts to fill gaps
in the research into comprehension-based instruction by (1) investigating young learners
who were more or less complete beginners and (2) examining the process features of the
258 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

instruction as well as the learning outcomes. It investigates whether listen-and-do tasks

can create rich opportunities for language learning by young children who are beginner
learners. It also examines the link between process features (classroom interaction) and
the learning product (acquisition). The three research questions addressed in this study
are as follows:

1. What are the key process features of the teacher–learner interactions that arise in
the performance of listen-and-do tasks?
2. Do beginner L2 learners learn new vocabulary as a result of performing listen-
and-do tasks?
3. Do beginner L2 learners learn new grammatical features as a result of performing
listen-and-do tasks?

II Method
1 Participants
The participants were 30 Japanese children aged six with almost no experience of sec-
ond language instruction. They were recruited for this study by a small private language
school owned by the researcher. The parents of the children were informed that the
children would be participating in the study and their consent was obtained. This school
provided young children with an opportunity to start learning English before it was
introduced as a subject in primary school in Grade Three. The participants were divided
into two groups of 15: an input-based task (IBT) group and a control group. The IBT
group was further divided into two classes of six and nine participants. Both groups met
twice a week during the project and did not have any English instruction other than the
treatment for this study. As English is not usually used in daily discourse in Japan, the
children were exposed to English only in the research project.

2 Design
The study employed a quasi-experimental design with one experimental group: i.e. the
input-based group (IBT) and one control group. The IBT group received a set of three
input-based tasks in one lesson. The same set of tasks was then repeated eight times over
a period of five weeks. The control group was not taught the target items but just com-
pleted the tests (see below) three times. The purpose of the control group was not to
compare the effectiveness of input-based tasks with other types of instruction, but to
establish if there were any test-practice effects. It participated in activities that involved
English songs, Total Physical Response, and alphabet practice. All the lessons for the
two groups were taught by the researcher, who had 10 years of teaching experience.
Learning was measured by means of six tests: three comprehension tests and three
production tests. The production tests were administered prior to the comprehension
tests. This testing regime was repeated three times as a pre-test, as post-test 1, and as
post-test 2. The pre-test was conducted two weeks prior to the first lesson, post-test 1 was
Shintani 259

Table 1  Target Vocabulary Items

Nouns (24) camel, ostrich, crocodile, hippopotamus, squirrel, seal, polar bear,
peacock, pan, ladle, chopsticks, cutting board, plate, soap, battery,
toothbrush, green pepper, eggplant, chestnut, radish, leek, pear,
mandarin, persimmon
(+ crocodiles, squirrels, toothbrushes, batteries, pears, mandarins)

Adjectives (12) brown, gray, heavy, light, black, blue, big, small, purple, white, long,

conducted one week after the instruction finished, and post-test 2 was conducted four
weeks after post-test 1. All the treatment lessons were video- and audio-recorded.

3  Target features
The study investigated the acquisition of both vocabulary and grammar. Thirty-six
vocabulary items (24 nouns and 12 adjectives) were selected for this study as shown in
Table 1. The grammatical feature was plural -s. This was not taught directly. It was intro-
duced reactively when the teacher provided feedback on the participants’ comprehension
errors or answered the participants’ queries about the meaning of a word.

4  Instructional treatments
Three listen-and-do tasks were designed. Each task involved the participants listening to
the teacher’s commands and responding to them.

a  Task 1: Help the zoo and the supermarket:  This required the learners to listen to the
teacher’s commands and find the picture cards corresponding to the target item(s). Thirty
small flash cards for the 30 target items (including the six plural items), one three-sided
board with 30 pockets to hold flash cards inside, and one small empty box for incorrectly
selected cards were prepared for each participant. The participants were informed that
the purpose of this task was to help the zoo or the supermarket by finding the right cards
and placing them in their holder. They listened to an instruction, found the card that
matched the instruction, and then when told to do so by the teacher, they all displayed the
card they had chosen. The teacher then gave the correct answer to all the participants.
The participants who had chosen correctly placed the card in the pocket on the board, but
the participants who had answered incorrectly replaced the card they had chosen on the
table and then put the correct card in their ‘incorrect’ box. At the end of the task each
student counted the number of cards in his or her incorrect box. The student with the
fewest cards was the winner.

b  Task 2: Help the animals:  The same 30 flash cards as in Task 1 were used. Each student
had a set of these cards. The teacher explained to the participants in their first language
(L1) that the goal of the task was to help the animals by finding certain cards.
260 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

The participants were requested to find pairs of cards that corresponded to the teacher’s
statements. For example, if the teacher said ‘The polar bear needs the batteries’ they had
to find the card showing a single ‘polar bear’ and the card showing two ‘batteries’. The
students held up the pair of cards they had selected so that the teacher could indicate
whether or not they had chosen the correct cards. They were allowed to change their
selection until they held up the correct cards. Altogether each student collected 10 pairs
of cards.

c  Task 3: Listening Bingo Game:  This was a form of Picture Bingo. The participants began
by choosing nine out of the 10 cards they were given and laid them out in a 3 × 3 forma-
tion in front of them. The cards were the same as those used in Tasks 1 and 2 and included
some plural cards in each set. The teacher then called out a word naming one of the pic-
tures. If a student had a card showing the picture corresponding to this word, he or she
turned it face down. After six words were presented (some of which were singular and
some plural), each participant’s Bingo score (the number of turned-over cards) was
checked by the teacher. Between one and three rounds were played depending on the
available class time. The focus in this task remained on meaning throughout although
students were exposed intensively to the target words.

Prior to each lesson the teacher explained that the children could ask questions in their
L1 or English. She also made every effort to use the target adjectives while conducting
the tasks. At the beginning of each lesson, the goal and task procedures were explained
to the participants in Japanese if necessary. However, the teacher made every effort to
use only English during the performance of the tasks. In order to obtain data on the stu-
dents’ comprehension of Task 1, the teacher recorded each student’s performance on a
checklist every time the students showed their chosen cards.

5  Recording and transcribing the lessons

Students sat around a square table with eight seats. One video-camera was positioned at
one side of the classroom, focused on the students. The audio-recorder was placed on the
table. All the audio-recorded data were transcribed. Every effort was made to identify
individual student utterances by referring to the video-recorded data.

6  Test materials
For vocabulary knowledge, four tests were designed based on two traits (comprehension vs.
production) and using two methods (task-based vs. discrete-item tests). Also, three tests
were designed to measure learners’ ability to comprehend and produce plural -s. There was
a multiple-choice comprehension test, a ‘Wug test’ and a ‘Same or Different’ task.

7  Vocabulary tests
a  Multiple-choice word comprehension test:  This test required the participants to listen to an
audio-recorded word and choose the appropriate picture from six pictures. The test
Shintani 261

contained 36 questions for each of the 36 target items. The test was administered to the
participants in groups. For the dimension adjectives, pictures showing the size of different
objects were used. For example, for the adjective ‘heavy’ the learners had to select a picture
showing an elephant from a set of six pictures of which the other five represented light
objects (e.g. an ant). To avoid confusing the participants the target nouns were not used for
testing the adjectives. Five seconds were allowed for each question. One point was assigned
for each item if it was correctly chosen. The maximum score possible was 36.

b  Category Task test:  In this test the learners were asked to listen to sentences and
decide which specific situation each sentence containing a target noun related to (see
Appendix 1). For example, the learners heard the sentence ‘A polar bear is walking
slowly on the rock’, and were requested to point to the correct sheet of pictures out of
four sheets representing different situations (i.e. ‘fruit and vegetable shop’, ‘home
appliance shop’, ‘land area of the zoo’, and ‘sea area of the zoo’). In order to test the
adjectives, each of the four picture sheets included a picture of a child holding or wearing
one of four items (i.e. a balloon, a bag, a hat and a butterfly net) that had different
colours or sizes. The learners listened to sentences such as ‘The boy has a blue balloon’
and identified the relevant picture that contained a blue balloon. Definitions of the
nouns used for the adjective questions were provided in both English and Japanese
prior to the test. Thirty-six sentences including each target word were constructed and
randomized. The participants obtained one point for each item when they chose the
correct category (i.e. the correct picture). The maximum score possible was 36.

c  Discrete-item word production test:  This test required the participants to articulate the
target vocabulary items shown on flash cards. Twelve adjective picture cards were used.
The adjectives were tested after the noun items.

d  ‘Same or Different’ task test:   There were 12 pictures showing singular objects and 12
showing plural objects. Five out of the 12 plural objects represented items introduced
during the treatment (i.e. crocodiles, batteries, mandarins, toothbrushes, squirrels). The
other seven represented ‘new’ items (i.e. camels, peacocks, green peppers, pans, seals,
chestnuts, radishes). The students were asked to name each object and the researcher
then told the participant which picture she had. If the students’ and researcher’s pictures
were the same they put a tick in the square showing the picture. If they were not the same
they put a cross. The participants were awarded one point for each item they said cor-
rectly. The criterion for correct production was the same as for the discrete-item vocabu-
lary production test. The maximum score possible was 36.

8  Grammar tests
a  Plural -s comprehension test:  This was a multiple-choice test. The test included two of
the words from the treatment and three other new words. Each word was tested in its
singular and plural form. The students were given a test sheet consisting of 10 pairs of
pictures. Each set had two pictures (one representing the item in singular form and one
in plural form). The test was administered to the participants in groups. The participants
262 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

Table 2  Private and social speech by students in Times 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9

Time 1 Time 3 Time 5 Time 7 Time 9

Private speech 36 44 77 38 28
Social speech  0 41 70 57 84
Note: Times 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 refer to the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth lessons respectively.

listened to an audio-recorded word and then indicated which picture corresponded to the
word they had heard. They had five seconds to respond to each item. Care was taken to
ensure that the participants could not see other students’ test papers during the test.

b  Wug test:  This was adapted from Berko’s (1958) test for young L1 children. The test
consisted of 10 items. Five items tested words that had been introduced in the treatment
and five tested nonsense words. The test was administered to participants individually by
the researcher. The researcher first provided the singular form orally while pointing to
the single item picture (e.g. ‘This is a wug’), and then pointed to the plural item picture
and elicited a plural noun orally from the participant (e.g. ‘There are two of them. There
are two ____’). The questions were provided in English first, but Japanese was used if a
student did not understand the instructions. Ample time was given for the participants to
answer. If a participant was unable to provide an answer or only said the singular form of
a word for three consecutive items, the test was stopped.

c  ‘Same or Different’ task test:  The ‘Same or Different’ task used for vocabulary acquisi-
tion was also scored in terms of the students’ use of plural -s. The researcher asked ques-
tions to elicit participant’s production by asking questions such as ‘What colour is it?’ or
‘My soap is pink. Is your soap pink?’ Obligatory occasion analysis was used to compute
scores. The participants obtained a point for each item they produced correctly when
performing the task.

III Findings
The process features (Research Question 1) are examined first followed by vocabulary
learning (Research Question 2) and acquisition of plural -s (Research Question 3). In
each case results are presented first followed by discussion.

1  Process features
Although the input-based tasks did not require the learners to produce the L2, the
participants in this study did produce L2 forms voluntarily while performing the
tasks. In order to investigate the nature of learner production during the input-based
tasks (IBTs), it was decided to examine the language the students produced in terms
of ‘private speech’ (i.e. self-directed speech) and ‘social speech’ (i.e. other-directed
speech). The students’ L2 utterances in five out of the nine lessons (Lessons 1, 3, 5, 7
and 9) were coded as ‘private speech’ or ‘social speech’. Table 2 shows that while the
Shintani 263

students’ private speech remained constant throughout, social speech was at first non-
existent and then gradually increased. The characteristics of the two types of speech
were then examined in detail.

a  Social speech:  Excerpt 1 shows a sequence triggered by the teacher requesting the
students to find the ‘squirrel’ card in Lesson 4.

Excerpt 1

1. T: okay (1.0) u::::m. okay (.) let’s go to the zoo (.) please take the (1.0) squirrel (.)
2. S1: [squirrel]
3. S5: [squirrel]
4. T: Yeah (.) [squirrel]
5. S1: [whito?]
6. S2: supermarketto?
7. S1: whito?
8. T: (.) no no no [no].
9. S3: [zoo] (.) zoo [zoo].
10. T: [zoo] yeah (.) to the zoo (.) squirrel to the zoo.
11. S1: whito? (.) [whito?]
12. S2: [white?]
13. T: [no] no no no (.) not [white].
14. S4: [blue?]
15. T: not blue ((looks at the card in her hand and smiles)) (2.0) brown.
16. S2: brown?
17. T: and very ((shows ‘small’ with her hand)) small. (1.0) [small and]
18. S2: ((looks at the teacher with frowning face)) [brown tte nani?] ((translation: what’s
19. S4: brown tte nani? ((translation: what’s brown?))
20. S3: ((picks up one card from his set and looks at the teacher)) [one?]
21. T: [brown?] ((walks to the wall to point something brown)).
22. S3: ((shows his pointing finger to the teacher)) one? (1.0) [one?]
23. S2: [brown?]
24. T: ((shows her pointing finger)) one (.) yeah (.) very small ((gesture)). very small
((gesture)) and brown (.) brown ((goes to the wall and points to brown)) and small
(.) okay, three (.) two (.) [one (.) Go]
24. S5: [one (.) Go:]
25. Ss: ((hold up their selected cards))
29. T: ((shows the correct card)) this is the (.) squirrel (.) squirrel, squirrel. Okay.
(Task 1, Lesson 4)

The excerpt shows that the students actively participated in the task by speaking in
both L1 and L2. Five out of six students in the class spoke in the L2 in this sequence. The
learners’ utterances functioned in various ways: they helped other students to provide an
answer (turn 12); they repeated a question turn when it was not answered (turns 7 and 11);
264 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

they answered a question posed by another student (turn 9); and they requested informa-
tion from the teacher (turns 5, 6, 14, 18 and 20).
The excerpt also shows that although the teacher started and ended the sequence, the
learners controlled the way the sequence developed. The sequence was initiated by the
teacher’s request for the learners to choose appropriate cards (turn 1), but the ensuing
student turns were not assigned by the teacher. The teacher’s utterances constituted
responses to the students’ questions. Then finally, in turn 24, the teacher again took
control of the interaction with another request, ‘okay, three, two, one, go’, for the stu-
dents to show the cards they had selected. Studies have shown that turn-taking in the L2
classroom is characterized by a strict allocation of turns (Markee, 2000; McHoul, 1978;
Seedhouse, 2004). However, Seedhouse (2004) observed that in a meaning and fluency
classroom context, turn-taking is managed by the students although eventually controlled
by the teacher. The above sequence illustrates this.
The extract indicates that the conversation engendered by IBTs is not typical of class-
room discourse in a number of ways:

• the students used the L2 for a number of different purposes;

• the students took control of some parts of the interaction; and
• the teacher’s questions were predominantly referential rather than display.

The questions in the above sequence are all referential (i.e. the answers were not known
by the person asking them). Studies have shown that in second language classrooms
teachers tend to ask display questions (i.e. the answers are already known to the person
asking them) rather than referential questions (Brock, 1986; Long and Sato, 1983).
All the question turns (turns 5, 6, 7, 11, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22 and 23) were initiated by the
students and the responses provided by the teacher except on one occasion where S3
extended the teacher’s previous answer (turn 9). Studies have found that the initiate–
response–follow-up (IRF) exchange is a dominant feature of classroom discourse (Sinclair
and Coulthard, 1975) while in naturalistic discourse ‘follow-up’ turns rarely occur. All the
exchanges in the above sequence consisted of a student question and a teacher answer
with no follow-up move, indicating that this discourse resembled turn-taking in conversa-
tions. Teacher-initiated questions did occur from time to time when the teacher asked the
students to state how they had performed in the task (e.g. ‘how many cards have you
got?’) but these were also referential questions that did not result in IRF exchanges.
The question turns that occurred in Lesson 5 were analysed in terms of teacher-
initiated vs. student-initiated, and display vs. referential, questions. There were no dis-
play questions produced by either the students or the teacher. The students asked 70
referential questions and the teacher just seven. In other words, the questions in the IBT
lesson were exclusively referential and mainly initiated by students.
As Excerpt 1 shows, most student-initiated question turns involved negotiation.
The learners’ questions sometimes involved meta-talk (e.g. questions on the proce-
dures of the task). Such utterances were typically in the learners’ L1. Other question
turns were intended to negotiate meaning. For example, in Lesson 5, six out of 70
question turns by the students involved meta-talk in the L1 but all the others (64)
involved negotiation.
Shintani 265

b  Private speech:  Most private speech involved learners’ repetition of some part of the
teacher’s utterance (e.g. turns 2, 3 in Excerpt 1). Repetition often occurred immediately
after a teacher’s command and the learners usually repeated only the target word in the
teacher’s utterance as in Excerpt 2 below. Sometimes it consisted of just repeating part
of a word in the teacher’s utterance as the following example shows.

Excerpt 2

1. T: next. please take the squirrels to the zoo. squirrels to the zoo.
2. S4: two?
3. S2: ichadame [don’t tell them].
4. T: hint hint. (showing the cards) one squirrel, two squirrels. listen listen. one squirrel,
two squirrels (1.0). please take the squirrels to the zoo.
5. S4: /z/
6. S2: itchadame tte ittanoni [I said don’t tell them]
7. T: please take the squirrels to the zoo (.) three (.) two (.) one (.) go.
8. Ss: (showing their cards. Five out of nine students were correct)
9. T: that’s right.
(Lesson 7)

As Ohta (2001) noted, language learners do not repeat everything they hear. DiCamilla
and Antón (2004) stated that repetition in private speech helps learners to focus their
attention on the task at hand and to solve linguistic problems. S4’s repetition of /z/ in turn
5 is indicative of his attempt to achieve self-regulation in order to complete the task. It
also indicates that the student was focusing attention on form while attending to meaning
(i.e. trying to identify the card).
Private speech was also evident in learner utterances that manifested ludic use of
language as in Excerpt 3 below. In turn 10, S3 repeated S4’s utterance but modified it to
/pi:kan/. As this turn occurred after the teacher had evaluated the learners’ card selection
(in turn 8), its function is not likely to be that of self-regulation. It seems that S3 might
have been playing with the sound by modifying the second syllable of the word. S3’s
manner of speech indicates that it constituted ‘language play’ (Broner and Tarone, 2001).
This type of repetition occurred frequently but less so than the repetition used to self-
regulate when working on the tasks. Ohta (2001) showed that this kind of manipulation
helps learners to break down or build up words. Interestingly, such manipulation did not
appear in Lesson 1 but occurred five times in Lesson 5 and nine times in Lesson 9. This
might be because as the learners’ familiarity with the tasks increased over time they were
better able to ‘play’ with language.

Excerpt 3

1. T: take the peacock to the zoo.

2. Ss: peacock?
3. T: peacock to the zoo. peacock to the zoo.
4. S1: atta atta atta ((translation: I found it, I found it, I found it))
5. S2: blue
6. T: blue, yes. blue, yes. that’s right..
266 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

7. S3: ((stands up and go to point to something blue))

8. T: you don’t have to. that’s green. sit down (1.0) are you ready? three, two, one go.
[yes, everyone is correct]
9. S4: peacock, peacock, peacock
→10. S3: /pi:kan/ /pi:kan/
(Lesson 9)

c Discussion:  The analysis of process features showed that even though the tasks did not
require production, the learners participated actively by means of both private and social
speech. Below I argue that the resulting interaction was acquisition rich in that (1) it
resembled naturalistic conversation, (2) learners negotiated meaning, and (3) ‘focus on
form’ took place.
First, the analysis of learners’ social speech showed that the students frequently initi-
ated question–answer exchanges. Although the task was designed to induce one-way
interaction between the teacher and the students, the students asked questions more fre-
quently than the teacher. This indicates that the listen-and-do tasks provided the learners
with the opportunity to control the way the discourse developed. In addition, the
question–answer turns invariably involved referential questions.
These characteristics are very different from typical classroom discourse as reported in
the literature (e.g. Seedhouse, 2004). They are indicative of what Seedhouse (2004, p. 111)
has claimed occur in a ‘meaning and fluency context’. That is, the turn-taking was varied,
and often initiated by students but eventually controlled by the teacher. If, as some research-
ers (Ellis, 1999; Ernst, 1994; Johnson, 1995) have argued, learner control of the discourse
helps to create an ‘acquisition-rich’ environment, then the interactions that arose out of the
listen-and-do tasks in this study can be viewed as facilitative of acquisition.
Considering the fact that these learners had very little English learning experience
prior to this project, the tasks seem to have created situations where they were pushed to
use their L2 in a communicative way. The tasks motivated the learners to achieve the task
outcomes. Also, although the language produced by the learners was clearly ‘minimal’,
this was not because of the nature of the tasks but because the linguistic resources avail-
able to these beginner learners was limited.
Second, the learners engaged in negotiating meaning while performing the listen-and-
do tasks. The high frequency of student-initiated questions (426 in the nine lessons) is
indicative of active negotiation. As shown in Table 3, although the students varied in the
extent to which they engaged in ‘negotiation’, most of the students (11 out of 15 stu-
dents) did so quite extensively.
The results of this study differ from those reported in Ellis and Heimbach (1997),
where only a few students negotiated even though they were encouraged to do so. The
most likely explanation for this difference is the way in which the tasks were imple-
mented in the two studies. In Ellis and Heimbach the task was performed just once. In
this study, the tasks were repeated nine times. The learners’ social speech increased con-
siderably over time. Other studies have shown that task-repetition leads to greater par-
ticipation of children in tasks (e.g. Pinter, 2005; Van den Branden, 1997). Task familiarity
makes meaning negotiation easier.
Shintani 267

Table 3  The number of negotiated utterances initiated by students in the input-based task

St1 St2 St3 St4 St5 St6 St7 St8 St9 St10 St11 St12 St13 St14 St15 Total
39 47 33 68 9 63 0 26 0 7 83 22 29 0 0 426
Note: St = Student

Third, ‘focus on form’ was evident. The learners primarily focused on the goal of the
tasks and treated the L2 as a tool rather than as an object to be learned. However, the
learners also attended to form when the need to do so arose. This was evident in some of
the learners’ private speech. Learners often repeated a key part of a teacher utterance
(e.g. a target noun or the plural morpheme) in the attempt to self-regulate. This attention
to form arose as a result of the learners’ wanting to achieve the task outcome. Language
play also provided evidence of focus on form, as shown in Excerpt 3. Thus, there are
grounds for thinking that the interactions that resulted from the listen-and-do tasks were
I will now turn to Research Questions 2 and 3, which asked if any learning took place.

2 Vocabulary acquisition
a  Descriptive statistics:  Table 4 shows the descriptive statistics for the nouns and adjec-
tives. The maximum score possible for each test was 24 for the nouns and 12 for the
adjectives. In all tests the IBT group’s score increased from pre-test to post-test 1, and
the gain was maintained in post-test 2. The control group, however, did not show any
notable increase in their scores.

b  Change over time:  Within group comparisons of the noun scores showed that in all the
tests, the IBT group displayed significantly improved scores from pre-test to post-test1
and from pre-test to post-test 2. In the two production tests, noun scores significantly
improved from post-test 1 to post-test 2, but in all the other tests, there were no signifi-
cant changes between post-tests 1 and 2. The control group did not show any significant
In the case of adjectives, repeated measures ANOVAs conducted on the scores of each
test showed significant interaction effects between test and group. The pair-wise multiple
comparisons showed that in all tests the IBT group’s scores improved significantly from
pre-test to post-test 1 and from pre-test to post-test 2, but there was no significant differ-
ence between post-tests 1 and 2. Again, the control group did not show any significant
improvement over time. The statistical results are summarized in Appendix 2.

c  Between-group differences in the acquisition of nouns:  The researcher used t-tests to

compare the pre-test noun and adjective scores of the IBT and control groups. There
were no significant differences except in the category task test. In the adjective scores
for the category task test, the control group outperformed the IBT group in the pre-test
(p = 0.027). The IBT group significantly outperformed the control group in all the
268 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

Table 4  Descriptive statistics for the nouns

Pre-test Post-test 1 Post-test 2

Nouns (24 items):
Multiple-choice listening test
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 5.20 15.33 15.13
  SD 3.41 4.12 4.19
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 4.00 3.73 3.73
  SD 2.00 1.91 1.91
Category task test
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 0.80 13.13 13.53
  SD 0.94 3.09 3.27
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 1.67 1.60 2.67
  SD 1.05 1.35 1.67
Discrete-item production test
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 0.20 6.53 7.93
  SD 0.56 2.64 2.02
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 0.20 0.27 0.40
  SD 0.56 0.59 0.74
Same or Different task
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 0.20 5.07 6.33
  SD 0.56 2.52 2.74
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 0.13 0.20 0.20
  SD 0.35 0.56 0.56
Adjectives (12 items):
Multiple-choice listening test
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 3.40 10.13 10.60
  SD 2.35 1.19 0.99
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 2.67 2.53 3.13
  SD 1.95 2.00 1.55
Category task test  
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 1.73 8.07 8.60
  SD 1.94 3.17 3.02
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 1.00 1.60 1.60
  SD 1.31 1.50 1.59
production test
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 1.73 5.53 6.53
  SD 1.53 2.95 2.75
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 1.40 1.13 1.07
  SD 0.91 0.99 0.96
Same or Different task  
  IBT group (n = 15) Mean 0.60 4.47 4.87
  SD 1.30 2.77 3.14
  Cont. group (n = 15) Mean 0.60 0.73 0.67
  SD 1.24 1.58 1.40
Shintani 269

post-tests, including the category test. In other words, those learners who had completed the
listen-and-do tasks acquired the target nouns and adjectives in both the short and the
longer-term whereas those learners who had not had the opportunity to perform these
tasks did not. The statistical results are summarized in Appendix 3.

d Discussion:  The results show that the listen-and-do tasks led to the acquisition of both
nouns and adjectives. The IBT group showed significant improvement from the pre-test to
post-test 1 in all tests while the control group did not. The between-group comparisons
showed that there was no significant difference between the IBT group and the control
group in the pre-test, but the IBT group outperformed the control group in all post-tests. It
should be noted that the adjectives were not part of the work plans of the tasks but only
appeared spontaneously when the teacher sought to help the students understand the nouns.
Thus, the results indicate that the listen-and-do tasks led to acquisition of both planned
vocabulary items (i.e. nouns) as well as unplanned items (i.e. adjectives). They demonstrate
that the listen-and-do tasks were successful in helping the learners to acquire vocabulary
incidentally (i.e. without any attempt to learn the meanings of the words intentionally).
The results also show that the listen-and-do tasks fostered the acquisition of both
receptive and productive lexical knowledge. Although the learners occasionally pro-
duced a number of the target words while performing the tasks, on no occasion were they
requested to do so. This study then lends support to previous studies (De la Fuente, 2002;
De Jong, 2005; Ellis and He, 1999), which have shown that input-based instruction ben-
efits both receptive and productive knowledge of vocabulary.
Interestingly, the results show that the participants continued to develop their produc-
tion skills after post-test 1. The IBT group significantly improved on the two production
tests (i.e. the ‘Same or Different’ task test and the discrete-item word production test)
from post-test 1 to post-test 2. The individual test scores show that learners demonstrated
only receptive knowledge of some of the items in post-test 1 but both receptive and pro-
ductive knowledge of the same items in post-test 2. This indicates the learners in the IBT
group first developed receptive knowledge and subsequently developed productive
knowledge, and therefore reflects the general claim that receptive knowledge precedes
productive knowledge (Nation, 2001).
The tasks were designed to introduce the target nouns in semantically-related sets (i.e.
animals, kitchen tools, vegetables and fruit). Previous research (e.g. Nation, 2001; Tinkham,
1993; Waring, 1997) has shown that learners acquire words more easily in semantically
unrelated sets. However, these studies all investigated intentional vocabulary learning
based on word lists. The current study examined incidental learning of semantically related
sets in a communicative context and has shown that the learners were successful. This sug-
gests that the proposal that words should be not presented in semantically related sets may
not be justified if the instruction involves input-based tasks and the learning is incidental
rather than intentional. This is an important point, especially where young children are
concerned, as such learners are not well suited to learning from word lists.

3 Acquisition of plural -s
a  Descriptive statistics: In order to differentiate between ‘item learning’ (i.e. learners
remembering the specific items they have been exposed to) and ‘system-learning’ (i.e.
270 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

Table 5  Descriptive statistics of grammar tests

Pre-test Post-test 1 Post-test 2

Multiple-choice listening test: 
  IBT group (n = 15) Old items Mean 36.67 86.67 90.00
  SD 15.20 27.76 22.76
  New items Mean 52.22 75.54 79.98
  SD 15.27 24.28 18.04
  Control group (n = 15) Old items Mean 35.00 40.00 33.33
  SD 26.39 24.64 26.16
  New items Mean 48.89 51.11 54.45
  SD 23.13 14.76 13.34
Wug test:  
  IBT group (n = 15) Old items Mean 0.00 13.33 13.33
  SD 0.00 35.19 35.19
  New items Mean 0.00 0.00 0.00
  SD 0.00 0.00 0.00
  Control group (n = 15) Old items Mean 0.00 12.50 11.67
  SD 0.00 33.07 31.15
  New items Mean 0.00 0.00 0.00
  SD 0.00 0.00 0.00
Note: Maximum obtainable scores are 100.

the internalization of a ‘rule’ that can be successfully applied to new exemplars of the
target feature), the test scores were divided into ‘old items’ (eight items that were
included in the instruction) and ‘new items’ (six items not included in the instruction)
(Robinson, 2005), and expressed as percentages. Table 5 provides the descriptive statistics
from the two grammar tests (the multiple-choice listening test and the wug test).

b  Multiple-choice listening test:  Within group comparisons showed that for both ‘old’
and ‘new’ items, the IBT group significantly improved their scores from pre-test to post-
test 1 and from pre-test to post-test 2, but there was no significant change between post-
tests 1 and 2. The control group did not show any significant improvement. The IBT
significantly outperformed the control group in post-tests 1 and 2 for both ‘old’ and ‘new’
items while there was no significant difference in the pre-test. The statistical results are
summarized in Appendix 4.

c  Wug test:  In the Wug test, two participants in the IBT group demonstrated acquisition
of plural -s while none in the control group did. They scored over 90%. However, chi-
square tests showed no significant difference between the IBT group and the control
group in either post-test (χ2 = 2.143, df = 1, p = 0.143 > .01).

d  The ‘Same or Different’ task test:  Two participants in the IBT group produced some
plural noun forms in the post-tests. One scored 60% in both post-tests, and the other 43%
in post-test 1 and 50% in post-test 2. Both learners produced both ‘old’ and ‘new’ items
in the test, indicating that some acquisition of plural -s had taken place.
Shintani 271

To summarize then, there was only limited evidence that acquisition of plural -s had
taken place. The IBT group only demonstrated significant improvement in the compre-
hension test. In the two production tests neither the IBT group nor the control group
improved significantly. However, there were only two learners in the IBT group who
demonstrated acquisition of this morpheme.

e Discussion:  Plural -s is difficult to acquire for Japanese learners of English. Although

morpheme studies have shown that plural -s is one of the first morphemes to be acquired,
learners whose L1 does not include obligatory plural marking may experience difficulty in
learning English plurals. For example, Hakuta’s (1978) longitudinal study of a five-year-old
Japanese girl’s acquisition of a range of English morphemes found that plurals ranked only
10th out of the 14 features he examined. Tono’s (2000) corpus analysis of the morpheme
errors of Japanese EFL learners indicates that plural -s is more difficult for Japanese learners
than other learners, such as the Spanish children investigated by Dulay and Burt (1974).
The current study also testifies to the difficulty of plural -s for young Japanese
beginner learners. Although the comprehension test showed that learners acquired
and maintained receptive knowledge of plural -s, very little evidence of any productive
knowledge was shown. Only two out of 15 students in the IBT were able to produce
the plural form in the post-tests.
The difference in the results for the receptive and productive tests can be explained by
the fact that language production is more difficult than language comprehension. As
Paradis (2004) proposed, ‘in comprehension, excitatory impulses are triggered by the
environment, whereas in production they must come from within’ (p. 118). Pienemann
(1985) also claimed that the cognitive processes involved in reception and production are
different. His claims about ‘learnability’ apply primarily to production; learners can only
acquire (in the sense of ‘produce’) those features for which they are developmentally
ready. Comprehension may not be regulated by the same processing operations that
govern the production of grammatical forms. Thus, the results clearly showed that
incidental acquisition of plural -s can take place through performing listen-and-do tasks
if acquisition is measured receptively. The process feature analysis showed that the
tasks required the learners to comprehend the plural form by requiring the learners to
distinguish pictures depicting singular and plural referents.
Excerpt 2 shows that this can lead to the learners paying attention to the plural form
when this is needed to complete the task. Such attention – even for a feature as difficult
to learn as plural -s – appears to have facilitated the receptive knowledge of the IBT
group as a whole and the productive knowledge of a few of the learners.

IV Conclusions
This study was motivated by both theoretical and practical considerations. Theoretically, I
was interested in whether young beginner learners could successfully learn both vocabu-
lary and grammar in much the same way as they had learned their L1: i.e. incidentally
through comprehending input. From a practical standpoint, the study was motivated by my
dissatisfaction with the available course books for beginners, all of which employ a pro-
duction-based approach and aim at intentional language learning. That is, they seek to
teach English by presenting items and asking the learners to repeat them, the customary
272 Language Teaching Research 16(2)

way of teaching total beginners through production. My dissatisfaction with such an

approach as a teacher of young learners led me to question whether a totally different
approach using input-based tasks would work for young beginner learners. I wanted to find
out how the children responded to such an approach, whether it resulted in interactions that
were less typical of pedagogic discourse, and whether they actually learned any English.
Thus, I designed a number of listen-and-do tasks to investigate: (1) whether the imple-
mentation of the tasks led to the kinds of interactions that theories of L2 acquisition have
claimed facilitate learning and (2) whether these interactions resulted in the learning of
both vocabulary and grammar. The tasks were intended to provide opportunities for the
incidental acquisition of nouns, adjectives and plural -s.
The learners ‘private speech’ was shown to function as ‘self-regulation’ and ‘lan-
guage play’, which have both been considered facilitative of L2 learning (Lantolf, 2003;
Ohta, 2001). The learners’ social speech showed that the tasks resulted in interactions
that were relatively naturalistic and that were characterized by the negotiation of mean-
ing and ‘focus on form’, both of which have been shown to be facilitative of L2 acquisi-
tion. The test results showed that the tasks led to the successful acquisition of both
nouns and adjectives and also to receptive knowledge of plural -s. In other words, the
tasks were successful in initiating the incidental learning of both vocabulary and gram-
mar, although only two learners developed productive knowledge of plural -s. In addi-
tion, as the transcripts of the lessons showed, the children were highly motivated to
communicate in English in order to achieve the task outcomes. To my mind, the study
has demonstrated the effectiveness of an input-based approach for these young beginner
learners of English.
Inevitably, the study has some limitations. The relatively small sample size and the
participants’ background (e.g. they were from educationally motivated families) limit the
extent to which the findings can be generalized. The production tests for plural -s were
not ideal as, although they made the use of the target feature ‘natural’, they did not make
it ‘essential’ (Loschky and Bley-Vroman, 1993) and thus may have failed to measure the
extent to which the children were capable of producing plural -s.
Future research needs to explore different kinds of input-based tasks with different
groups of learners, post-beginners as well as beginners. Such research should examine
process features as well as learning outcomes. The process-product design used in this
study might be usefully adopted in Processing Instruction (PI) studies, which to date have
focused exclusively on learning outcomes and thus have failed to show how the interac-
tions resulting from the structured input activities used in such studies promote learning.

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Appendix 1  Examples of the Category task

(1) Test sheets

(2) Example questions

I saw some camels in a cage.
The boy has a grey balloon.
Do you know ostriches can run very fast?
Excuse me. Do you have any toothbrushes?
The boy’s bag looks heavy.
A polar bear is walking slowly on the rocks.
Appendix 2  Vocabulary test results

Vocabulary tests results: Within group comparisons for the nouns

Measurement Group Statistical test (main effect) Pre–Post 1 Pre–Post 2 Post1–Post2

Same or IBT Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test z = –3.411, p = .001* z = –3.413, p = .001* z = –2.536, p = .011*
Different task
  Control Friedman Test (χ2 = .667, df = – – –
2, p = .717, n.s)
Discrete-item IBT Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test z = –3.419, p = .001* z = –3.419, p = .001* z = –3.474, p = .001*
production test
  Control Friedman Test χ2 = 1.400, df = – – –
2, p = 0.497, n.s)
Category task IBT and Repeated measures ANOVA (test IBT: P = .000, IBT: P = .000, IBT: P = .487,
Control and group effect: F (2.449, 51.424) Control: P = .725 Control: P = .744 Control: P = .067
= 69.304, p = .000*, partial eta
squared = .767)
Multiple-choice IBT and Repeated measures ANOVA (test IBT: P = .000, IBT: P = .000, IBT: P = 1.000,
listening test Control and group effect: F (2.738, 57.502) Control: P = .883 Control: P = .819 Control: P = .424
= 53.649, p = .000*, partial eta
squared = .719)
Note: * The difference between groups was significant.

Vocabulary tests results: within group comparisons for adjectives

Measurement Group Statistical test (main effect) Pre–Post 1 Pre–Post 2 Post1–Post2

Same or IBT and Repeated measures ANOVA (test IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .312,
Different task Control effect: F (1.485, 62.351) = 44.653, Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = 1.000
p = .000*, partial eta squared =
Language Teaching Research 16(2)

Appendix 2  (Continued)

Vocabulary tests results: Within group comparisons for the nouns

Measurement Group Statistical test (main effect) Pre–Post 1 Pre–Post 2 Post1–Post2

Discrete-item IBT and Repeated measures ANOVA test IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .064,
production test Control effect: F (2, 84) = 38.163, p = Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = 1.000
.000*, partial eta squared = .476
Category task IBT and Repeated measures ANOVA test IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .071,
Control and the group effect: F (1.262, Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = 1.000
52.990) = 109.946, p = .000*,
partial eta squared = 0.741
Multiple-choice IBT and Repeated measures ANOVA: test IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .000*, IBT: P = .436,
listening test Control and group effect: F (1.720, 72.222) Control: P = 1.000 Control: P = .905 Control: P = .190
= 188.702, p = .000*, partial eta
squared = .818
Note: * The difference between groups was significant.

Appendix 3  Between group differences: the results of the independent t-tests between the IBT group and the control group

Measurement Vocabulary Pre-test** Post-test 1 Post-test 2

t df p t df p t df p
Same or Different task Nouns 7.300 15.382 .000* 8.485 15.168 .000*
  Adjectives .000 28 1.000 4.529 28 .000* 4.737 19.346 .000*
Discrete-item production Nouns 8.963 15.410 .000* 13.590 17.672 .000*
  Adjectives .724 28 .475 5.478 17.119 .000* 7.272 17.374 .000*
Category task Nouns –2.385 28 .024* 13.241 19.170 .000* 11.887 20.819 .000*
  Adjectives 1.212 24.530 .237 7.164 20.339 .000* 8.301 20.847 .000*
Multiple-choice listening Nouns 1.177 28 .249 9.901 19.744 .000* 9.591 19.565 .000*
  Adjectives .929 28 .361 12.678 22.809 .000* 15.727 28 .000*
Notes: * The difference between groups was significant. ** The pre-test scores for nouns in the Same or Different task and the Discrete-item production test are
not reported as the data did not meet normality assumptions. However, Mann–Whitney U tests showed that there were no significant differences between the two
groups both in the Same or Different task (U = 111.500, z = –.070, p = .944) and in the Discrete-item test (U = 112.500, z = .000, p = 1.000).
Language Teaching Research 16(2)

Appendix 4  Results for the multiple-choice listening test

Within-group differences
Group Old/New item Friedman Test Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests
Pre–Post 1 Pre–Post 2 Post1–Post2
IBT Old item χ2 = 16.930, p = .000* z = –3.069, p = .002* z = –3.235, p = .001* z = –0.816, p = .414
  New item χ2 = 14.044, p = .001* z = –2.460, p = .014* z = –2.916, p = .004* z = –1.511, p = .131
Control Old item χ2 = 1.167, p = .558, n.s. – – –
  New item χ2 = 1.590, p = .452, n.s. – – –
Note: * The difference between groups was significant.

Between-group differences (Mann–Whitney U test)

Old/New item Pre-test Post-test 1 Post-test 2

Old item U = 100.000, p = .562, n.s. U = 26.500, p = .000* U = 14.500, p = .000*

New item U = 103.000, p = .682, n.s. U = 38.500, p = .002* U = 26.500, p = .000*
Note: * The difference between groups was significant.
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