Camouflaged Uptake Following Incidental Focus-on-Form Episodes

Zahra Gholami (Kharazmi University)
Leila Gholami (Arizona State University)


The efficacy of focus-on-form (FonF) within the context of communicatively-oriented language activities is measured via uptake. Uptake is defined as learners’ verbal responses immediately following either preemptive or reactive FonF instruction (Loewen, 2004).The present study investigated what is (not) meant and (not) measured through this definition of uptake. Drawing on the audio-recorded analysis of 20 hours of communicatively–oriented interactions in an intermediate IELTS class with two teachers, this study investigates the frequency of preemptive and reactive incidental FonF, and the subsequent occurrence of uptake in an English as a foreign language context. This study also provided an in-depth qualitative analysis of these classes through field notes, learner notes, and video-recorded data to explore the instances of uptake moves that were not captured through audio-recorded data. The quantitative findings of this study demonstrated a very low and disappointing uptake rate. Furthermore, the study did not find a significant difference between reactive and preemptive FonF in terms of uptake rate. Nonetheless, the qualitative data revealed a myriad of uptake instances not observable via the initial data analysis. Based on these findings, a new definition of uptake is suggested, which includes camouflaged uptake and learners’ immediate oral responses to FonF. Since uptake is used to gauge the efficacy of incidental FonF in primarily meaning–oriented classes, it is concluded that audio-recorded data just show the tip of the iceberg as far as the uptake rate is concerned. Thus, second language acquisition researchers are recommended to employ multiple indices to examine the effectiveness of FonF instruction.


Camouflaged uptake rate; EFL; Incidental focus on form; Reactive FonF; Preemptive FonF; Uptake rate

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