Triggering Factors of Learners’ Attention Shifts in L2 Oral Production

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Junya Fukuta, Graduate School, Nagoya University/JSPS Research Fellow

Metalinguistic knowledge is said to facilitate noticing or attention to form, but some researchers argue that learners resort to using their metalinguistic knowledge when faced with difficulties in language production. To understand the nature of factors triggering attention shifts from meaning to form in detail, retrospective data from six proficient Japanese EFL learners was descriptively analyzed, focusing on the role of metalinguistic knowledge in attention shifts. Results showed that learners’ attention shifted from meaning to form when they successfully monitored their speech errors and when they failed to process language. Some of the attention shifts seemed not to be triggered by learners’ metalinguistic knowledge. However, when automatic and appropriate processes failed, metalinguistic knowledge was used to solve the problem after attention shifted from meaning to form. Linguistic features that may influence the two kinds of triggering factors are also discussed.