The effect of affect? Task variability in L2 French
Researchers have considered negative affective factors as problematic to both acquisition and processing (Arnold, 1999; Krashen, 1982; Stevick, 1976). Fewer authors have examined the possible relationship between positive affect and learner output (Guiora, 1980; Stevick, 1999), and previous studies have mostly considered negative affective states (e.g. anxiety and agitation) and their inhibiting effects (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1994; Steinberg & Horowitz, 1986). Recently, researchers have focused on learners’ willingness to communicate in a second language (Doucette & MacIntyre, 2010; Pyke, McCullough & Kissau, 2010; Storch & Léger, 2009). In the present study, we will address a possible correlation between positive affect and learner output. The participants will be forty male and female advanced learners (age range 18-25) of French as a second language at a post-secondary institution in Canada. We will present the participants with two randomized trials of stimuli: three one-minute videos and three photographs. The experimenter will ask participants a series of leading questions in order to elicit production; participants will describe one trial orally, and one trial in written form. Following each description, participants will rate their emotional response to each stimulus on a scale, then respond to a personality questionnaire designed to flag for extroversion. Initially, we will code adjective types, then run descriptive and inferential statistics. We acknowledge the limited subject pool, individual variability in responses, and the possibility of having to exclude unintelligible or illegible utterances from the analysis. We predict that variation in types and Mean Length of Utterance will increase with reported positive affective responses. If learner output varies with reported feelings, French language teachers should consider the effect of affect in selection of teaching materials.
psycholinguistics; French as a second language; production; affect; willingness to communicate; variability
Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle
University of Victoria