Zhang, Liulin. (2018). Non-salient form in Chinese as a second language instruction: Input flood of Chinese notional passive construction. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 7(2), 249-276. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/caslar-2018-0010.
Implicit instruction alone simply does not work in teaching some linguistic forms because the target form may not even be noticed. In this case, to make the input count, some explicit instruction is necessary.
Drawing upon the frequency effect and the noticing hypothesis in language acquisition, input flood treatment was introduced to second language instruction involving artificially increased incidence of the target items in the audio or visual texts that learners are exposed to, with the expectation that this artificial increase will aid learners in noticing and then acquiring the form. Targeting at Chinese notional passive construction (NPC), the present study employs pre-post testing to assess the effect of input flood, and employs think-aloud protocol (including source attributions) analysis during the posttest to detect participants’ awareness of the linguistic knowledge underlying their choices. Results from experiment 1 show that in comparison with the marked 被bèi construction (BEIC), NPC is extremely difficult to be noticed in incidental exposure, rendering the input flood treatment helpless in participants’ acquisition of NPC. However, it is found in experiment 2 that the effect of input flood can be elicited with a little amount of explicit instruction, which is indicative of an indispensable role of explicit instruction in teaching non-salient language forms. Besides, the linguistic knowledge demonstrated by participants regarding the selectional constraints between NPC and BEIC is primarily unconscious and is inherent among intermediate and advanced Chinese learners.