Negative evidence: Its positioning, explicitness and linguistic focus as factors in second language acquisition

Hyun-Sook Kang, University of Pennsylvania


This study investigated the role of negative evidence and its explicitness and positioning factors in second language acquisition. The explicitness factor was divided into explicit vs. implicit in light of the presence or absence of deductive, metalinguistic rule instruction during conversational interaction. The positioning factor was categorized into proactive vs. reactive. While the proactive condition provided negative evidence prior to the learner production of errors on the basis of the perceived gap in the interlanguage, the reactive condition presented negative evidence contingent on learners' erroneous utterances. Forty-five heritage learners of Korean at the post-secondary level participated in the study. The design of pretest - immediate posttest - delayed posttest composed of the grammaticality judgment test and oral picture description test was utilized, along with three experimental conditions and a control condition. One week after the administration of the pretest, the learners engaged in one of the following conditions: (1) explicit/proactive; (2) explicit/reactive; (3) implicit/reactive; and (4) provision of backchannels (control). During the instructional session, the learners were provided with the different types of negative evidence on the Korean past tense form. The posttest was conducted immediately following the instructional session and the delayed posttest took place four weeks after the instruction and posttest session. Analyses of the pretest and immediate posttest results showed that the three experimental groups outperformed the control group, which supports for the facilitative role of negative evidence in improving the knowledge of the Korean past tense form. It was revealed that the reactive provision of negative evidence was more effective than the proactive provision, which suggests that negative evidence immediately contingent on the learners' deviant form was successful in facilitating the learner knowledge of the target form. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the explicit vs. implicit negative evidence in facilitating the learners' knowledge of the target form, which supported for the potential of implicit provision of negative evidence without interrupting the flow of conversation. Theoretical and pedagogical implications of this empirical research, along with directions for future research, were addressed.

Subject Area

Language arts|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Linguistics

Recommended Citation

Kang, Hyun-Sook, "Negative evidence: Its positioning, explicitness and linguistic focus as factors in second language acquisition" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3260928.