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Doing Focus on Form

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System 30 (2002) 419–432
www.elsevier.com/locate/system

Doing focus-on-form
Rod Ellis*, Helen Basturkmen, Shawn Loewen
Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
Received 17 April 2002; received in revised form 14 June 2002; accepted 17 June 2002

Abstract
‘Focus-on-form’ refers to a particular type of form-focused instruction - the treatment of linguistic form in the context of performing a communicative task. This article considers the rationale for this approach to teaching form as opposed to the more traditional ‘focus-on-forms’ approach where linguistic features are treated sequentially. It describes some of the main methodological options for attending to form in communication. These are considered under two main headings; ‘reactive focus-on-form’ and ‘pre-emptive focus-on-form’. The advantages and disadvantages of the various options are also discussed. Finally, some general questions relating to the practice of focus-on-form are identified as a basis for further discussion and research. # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Language instruction; Communicative tasks; Focus-on-form

1. Introduction
The teaching of linguistic forms,1 especially grammar, continues to occupy a major place in language pedagogy. Discussions of how to teach form usually consist of accounts of the various pedagogical options available to the teacher and the relative advantages of each option (see, e.g. Ellis, 1997). Somewhat less attention has been paid to the actual methodological procedures that teachers use to focus on * Corresponding author.

E-mail addresses: r.ellis@auckland.ac.nz (R. Ellis), h.basturkmen@auckland.ac.nz (H. Basturkmen), s.loewen@auckland.ac.nz (S. Loewen).
1
The term ‘form’ is often used to refer exclusively to ‘grammar’. However, in this article it is used more generally to refer to any aspect of linguistic form—phonological, graphological,...