Research Bites: Making Language Noticeable


Seong, M. (2009). Strategies making language features noticeable in English language teaching. Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 13(1), 113-126. [link]

Thanks to Dayle Major for suggesting the article.

Twitter Summary

Seong (’09) shows that repetition and restatement (among others) may be best strats to promote noticing in classroom.


  • Most researchers in second language acquisition and applied linguistics believe that noticing is a prerequisite to language acquisition, though the exact mechanism that leads from noticing something to acquiring or internalizing something is not exactly known.
  • According to a number of researchers, noticing occurs when learners pay attention to certain aspects of input. Noticing also occurs when students compare their interlanguage to that of the expected target language. Therefore both noticing through input and output promote acquisition.
  • Classrooms that are entirely meaning based may be missing out on this important aspect. However, a focus on meaning is fine so long as learners attention is drawn to certain linguistic features and errors.

Study and Results

Seong conducted survey research on 113 Korean university students to ascertain which teaching strategies students believed promoted noticing the best. She also looked at if these preferences differed by level. On the survey, she asked students to rate each strategy as very important, important, mediocre, hardly important, not important at all. Below is a table I made of the results.

noticing strategies

Note, H = high level, I = intermediate level, and L = low level.



Although this research gives us some insight into what some students think are effective noticing strategies, I see two major issues with this study. First, most of these strategies are poorly defined, if defined at all. For example, what does “previewing,” “imitation,” or “expansion” really mean? There is no indication in this article and it is not exactly obvious from the terminology. Second, this research only looks at students perceptions, not what was actually effective for making them notice linguistic features. Perceptions are important, of course, but without a more rigorous empirical investigation of noticing strategies, we can’t say for sure which truly are useful and why.


The results of this article are useful for starting a discussion about effective noticing strategies, what strategies are useful for what levels, and timing (i.e. at what point or in what activities should we draw students attention to language features).

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