Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simplification Versus Elaboration

Oh, S. (2001). Two Types of Input Modification and EFL Reading Comprehension:             Simplification Versus Elaboration. TESOL Quarterly, 35(1), 69-96.

            Sun-Young Oh’s article, “Two Types of Input Modification and EFL Reading Comprehension: Simplification Versus Elaboration,” examines the academic and linguistic benefit of simple and elaborate input modifications.

So what are simple and elaborate input modifications?
            First, input modifications. Oh (2001) defines an input as “all types of linguistic data from a target language that learners are exposed to and from which they learn” (pg 69). From this definition, the reader concludes Oh referring to the various types of modifications to help ELL retain the target language. In her study, she looks at two types of input modifications concerning reading comprehension: simple and elaborate.

Simple Input Modifications:
            Simple input modifications takes a text and modifies the text, or provides a less complex vocabulary and syntax. In addition, it contains shorter utterances, simpler lexis, and deletion of sentence elements or morphological inflections. (Oh, 2001). The pedagogical thought process of using simple input modifications resides in thinking ELLs will have an increase in comprehension, linguistically and academically.

Elaborate Input Modifications:
            In Oh’s article (2001), the authors, Parker and Chaudron, of “The Effects of Linguistic Simplification and Elaborative Modifications on L2 Comprehension,” elaborately define elaborate input modification:
Features such as slower speech, clearer articulation and emphatic stress, paraphrases, synonyms and restatements, rhetorical signaling devices, self-repetition, and suppliance of optional syntactic signals (e.g., relative and complement clause markers) serve neither to “simplify” nor to “complexify” the surface form, . . . rather, they are clarifications of meaning only, opportunities for the listener/reader to better decode the communications.

The authors explain elaborate input modifications are not utilized to increase the difficult of the “surface” of the text, but they are merely providing chances for ELLs to “better decode” (70) the meaning of the text (Oh, 2001).

The Results:
             In Oh’s examination of simple and elaborate input modifications, her research yielded a varying perspective. According to the study, the simple input modification assisted the students reading comprehension; however, this facilitation did not benefit low language proficiency students (Oh, 2001). Nevertheless, the simple input modifications would yield higher language proficient students with better reading comprehension scores due to their current language ability (Oh, 2001).
            On the other side of study, Oh (2001) discovered “elaborated input [modifications] significantly enhanced the reading comprehension of students at both high and low proficiency levels,” and “…elaborated input [modifications] significantly improved [the students’] performance on inference items” (pg 90).
            In other words, Oh’s research informed the reader that simple input modifications were easier to comprehend at the present time; however, elaborate input modifications would help the student significantly throughout his or her continuing education. 

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