Insights into the construction of grammatical knowledge provided by user-behavior tracking technologies

Joseph Collentine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objectivist assumptions that instruction should transfer knowledge and involve learners in deductive processes no longer dominate second-language curricula (Feng, 1996; McGroarty, 1998). Constructivist premises are increasingly compelling teachers to employ exploratory and inductive tasks, stipulating that students should be "agents" who manufacture rather than receive knowledge. Approaches to grammar instruction such as consciousness-raising tasks acknowledge the central role learners play in the acquisition process, engaging students in activities where they must hypothesize their own rules that account for patterns found in the input (Ellis, 1995; Fotos, 1994). Research, however, has concentrated on the efficacy of these premises (Ellis, 1998), such that we know much about the product, yet little about the processes affecting acquisition (Ellis & Schmidt, 1997). In this article, the author demonstrates how computer-assisted language learning (CALL) software containing user-behavior tracking technologies can provide important insights into the construction of grammatical knowledge. It showcases these technologies' potential by reporting a study which documented the data sources (e.g., digital videos, sound files) learners utilized in a CALL-based consciousness-raising task that promoted the abilities of foreign-language learners of Spanish (N = 30) to generate indirect speech. The study also assessed whether such interactions promote grammatical development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-57
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage Learning and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications


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