Attending to form and meaning: the experience of adult distance learners of French, German and Spanish.
Language Teaching Research, 9(3) pp. 295–317.
The relationship between attention to linguistic form and accuracy or to meaning and fluency in language learning has been explored by language learning researchers for many years. They point to the potential difficulties for learners in attending to form and meaning at the same time and the importance of exposure to meaningful target language communication outside the classroom for 'noticing' forms made salient during instruction. These issues have rarely been considered in a distance-learning context. This paper examines whether part-time distance learners, studying with the UK Open University, engage in such meaningful communication beyond their course of study and how they do this, whether they focus on form or meaning during this activity and the impact it has on their studies. It also explores whether students attend equally to form and meaning when completing assignments as intended by the course teams. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the findings from this investigation for distance language course and assessment design.
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