output in productive ways” (Long, 1996: 451-452). This hypothesis activated a whole line of interaction in SLA, and researchers began to explore the effects of specific interactional features on L2 development, such as Recasts, prompts, models (Long, Inagaki, & Ortega, 1998) and syntactic priming (McDonugh & Mackey, 2008). It was from this that evolved the research into the study of Recast.
2.2.2. Problems Remaining
Due to the complex nature of Recast, there are still two crucial issues that need careful consideration, and possible solution to these issues provides a rationale for the present study.
188.8.131.52. The definition of recast
Nicholas et al. (2001) and Ellis and Sheen (2006) in their reviews of Recast literature pointed out that Recast researchers have failed to solve their definitional differences. This is perhaps the most serious problem, because it makes it very difficult to compare the results obtained by different studies, given that, more often than not, these studies are not looking at the same thing. Table 1 illustrates this point.
Table 2.1. Definitions of Recast
Lyster & Ranta (1997:66) Recasts involve the teacher’s reformulation of all or part of a learner’s utterance minus the error
Sheen (2006: 365) Recasts are defined as “the teacher’s reformulation of all or part of a student’s utterance that contains at least one error within the context of a communicative activity in the classroom,”
Long (2007: 77) A corrective recast may be defined as a reformulation of all or part of a learner’s Immediately preceding utterance in which one or more non-targetlike (lexical, grammatical, etc.) items are replaced by the corresponding target language form(s), and where, throughout the exchange, the focus of the interlocutors is on meaning not language as an object.
The definitions in Table 2.1 are subtly but significantly different. Long’s (2007) definition makes reference to the interlocutors’ orientation in interaction. Sheen’s (2006) definition refers to the context of interaction. In contrast, Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) definition mentions neither of these two aspects. Therefore, their definition would include Recasts that have a focus on form, while Long’s (2007) definition seeks to exclude such form-focused Recast. Moreover, the operational definitions differ even more greatly. For example, in Doughty and Varela’s (1998) study, Recasts were operationalized as follows: When a learner produced an error in past reference, the teacher repeated the learner’s incorrect utterance, putting emphasis on the incorrect form through rising intonation. Learners were then given a chance to self-correct or peer-correct the error. Recasts were provided only when learners failed to provide the correct form. Once provided, the learners were required to repeat the teachers’ reformulation. In contrast, Leeman’s (2003) Recast only contained a reformulation of the erroneous part, and was followed by the question Qué más? (What else?) to avoid learner repetition. For example:
(2) L: I think that the worm will go under the soil.
T: I think that the worm will go under the soil?
L: (no response)
T: I thought that the worm would go under the soil.
L: I thought that the worm would go under the soil. (Douhty & Varela, 2006: 124)
(3) L: En la mesa hay una taza *rojo.
“On the table there’s a *red cup.”
T: Um hmm, una taza roja. Qué más?
“Um hmm, a red cup. What else?” (Leeman, 2003: 48)
A comparison of these two examples would be enough for us to wonder whether these studies were really looking at the same thing.
Considering all the definitional differences across studies, it is no wonder they arrive at different conclusions even given the same research question. Ellis and Sheen (2006) suggested it is better to work with a very general definition of Recasts, and then subcategorize Recasts into distinct types depending on clearly distinguishable formal characteristics.
• What is a Recast?
Researchers operate with a general definition of Recasts, though with a few exceptions, they have made no attempt to investigate categories of Recasts in accordance with their differentiating characteristics (Ellis & Sheen, 2006). Lyster and Ranta (1997) simply counted Recasts, while Lyster (1998), in a further analysis of the same data, distinguished four types of Recasts. Even when researchers acknowledge that Recasts are variegated, they are likely to generalize their role in the acquisition of an L2 as if they possess a homogeneous identity.
Here are some definitions of Recasts by a number of researchers:
• Long (1996, p. 434): Recasts are utterances that rephrase a child’s utterance by changing one or more components (subject, verb, object) while still referring to its central meaning.
• Lyster and Ranta (1997, p. 46): Recasts involve the teacher’s reformulation of all or part of a learner’s utterance minus the error.
• Braidi (2002, p. 20): A response was coded as a Recast if it incorporated the content words of the immediately preceding incorrect learner utterance and also changed and corrected the utterance in some way (e.g. phonological, syntactic, morphological, or lexical).
• Long (2006): A corrective Recast may be defined as a reformulation of all or part of a learner’s immediately preceding utterance in which one or more non-targetlike (lexical, grammatical, etc.) items are replaced by the corresponding target language form(s), and where, throughout the exchange, the focus of the interlocutors is on meaning not language as an object.
• Sheen (2006): A Recast consists of the teacher’s reformulation of all or part of a learner’s utterance that contains at least one error within the context of a communicative in the classroom.
These definitions are subtly but significantly different. Neither Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) nor Braidi’s (2002) definitions made reference to the teachers’ and learners’ orientation to the discourse-that is, whether the primary focus of attention is on language as an object or on message-conveyance. Given the context in which their studies were carried out (immersion classrooms and task-based interaction), it can be assumed that the primary focus was on the message, although it would seem likely that, even in these contexts, some repair sequences occurred that were motivated by form rather than message. Indeed, their definitions of Recasts would permit the inclusion of reformulated utterances from interactions that arise in traditional, form-focused lessons.
Long’s (1996, 2006) definitions seek to exclude such form-focused reformulations. To qualify as recast, the reformulation must occur in the context of message-centered communication. There is, however, an interesting difference between the two definitions offered by Long. Long’s (1996) definition states that a Recast rephrases an erroneous learner utterance while still referring to its pivotal meaning.
In a more recent work, Long’s (2006) definition requires that throughout the exchange, the focus of interlocutors is on meaning not on language as an object. The difference is crucial and probably reflects Long’s desire to exclude reformulation that focus on the meaning of a learner utterance but are clearly didactic (from the perspective of the person doing the Recasting) rather than communicative (i.e., they do not constitute an attempt to solve a communication problem) (Ellis & Sheen, 2006).
Hauser (2005) raised a different objection regarding the way Recasts have been defined and coded. He pointed out that definitions such as Long’s (1996) make reference to Recasts that maintain the meaning of the learner’s initial utterance. He suggested this is problematic because meaning, whether viewed as propositional content or action, is not established by the learner’s initial utterance but, rather, is “open to negotiation” and “emerges through the interaction” (p. 310); he also illustrated how this takes place. He concluded that coding practices based on the idea of maintaining meaning “obscure what is happening in the interaction” (p. 310).
However, Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) and Braidi’s (2002) definitions make no mention of meaning; they are based on purely formal criteria, namely that a Recast (a) reformulates and (b) corrects a preceding learner utterance. Thus, Hauser’s critique of the coding practices of Recast studies seems misplaced.
184.108.40.206. Theoretical Value of Recast
• Based on claims that children frequently repeat their parents’ Recasts during L1 acquisition, Recasts have been promoted as an effective type of feedback;
• Some researchers hypothesize that Recasts help learners to notice the gap between interlanguage forms and target forms, thus serving as “negative evidence”: (Doughty, 2001; Long, 1996; Long & Robinson, 1998).
220.127.116.11. Practical advantages of Recast
• Recasts provide supportive scaffolding that helps learners participate in lessons when the target forms in question are beyond their current abilities.
• Recasts are ideal for facilitating the delivery of complex subject matter (Lyster, 2002).
18.104.22.168. Disadvantages of Recasts
Recasts do not lead to any self- or peer-repair: when there is repair, the student can only repeat the teacher’s reformulation;
• In L2 classrooms, many Recasts can be ambiguous and therefore do not help learners to notice their mistakes (Lyster, 1998).
22.214.171.124. Ambiguity of Recast
Recasts Compete with Non-Corrective Repetition:
Teacher: What smells so good? Allen?
Teacher: Maple sap. That’s good.
Teacher: What do we call the baby of a hen? Nicole?
Teacher: Chicks. That’s good.
Recasts Compete with Signs of Approval
Teacher: What are orders? Yes?
Student: It’s, just like uhh *you say us*, ‘do this, do that’
Teacher: Exactly, it’s when someone tells us ‘Do that, go there, eat that’.
Teacher: A hole in which a rabbit lives, Patrick?
Student: A *din*.
Teacher: A den, that’s good. (Examples taken from Lyster, n.d.)
2.2.3. Different types of Recasts
One general finding is that recasts are more effective when they are intensive (i.e. repeatedly on the same linguistic feature) and when the target features are enhanced in some way (e.g.by of emphatic stress). This is tantamount to saying that recasts work well when they become a technique for delivering planned form-focused instruction. Of greater interest are those characteristics of incidental and extensive Recasts that promote acquisition. Such Recasts constitute what is natural and normal for most language learners. Understandably, given that these cannot be investigated experimentally but, rather, require careful analysis of data collected naturalistically, there have been very few studies that have investigated Recasts in this way to date (Ellis & Sheen, 2006).
According to Ellis and Sheen