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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 1998

Roy Lyster
McGill University


This study examines aspects of communicative classroom discourse that may affect the potential of recasts to be noticed as negative evidence by young second language learners. The database comprises transcripts of over 18 hours of interaction recorded during 27 lessons in 4 immersion classrooms at the primary level. The 377 recasts in the database have been classified according to their pragmatic functions in classroom discourse and then compared to the teachers' even more frequent use of noncorrective repetition. Findings reveal that recasts and noncorrective repetition fulfill identical functions distributed in equal proportions and, furthermore, that teachers frequently use positive feedback to express approval of the content of learners' messages, irrespective of well-formedness, to accompany, also in equal proportions, recasts, noncorrective repetition, and even topic-continuation moves following errors. The findings suggest that, from the perspective of both learners and teachers, the corrective reformulations entailed in recasts may easily be overridden by their functional properties in meaning-oriented classrooms.

Research Article
1998 Cambridge University Press

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