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The Effects of Processing Instruction with and without Output:
Acquisition of the Spanish Subjunctive in Three Conjunctional Phrases

This study examines the effects of processing instruction (PI) alone versus PI and output (O) on the acquisition of three conjunctional and infinitival phrases in Spanish. Seventy intermediate and advanced-intermediate high school participants received: 1) PI on three consecutive days (PI + PI + PI); 2) PI for two days and meaning-based output practice on the third (PI + PI + O); 3) PI on the first and third days, and output on the second (PI + O + PI); or 4) PI one day, followed by two days of output (PI + O + O). Results of a pre-test and two post-tests demonstrated positive effects from PI in both interpretation and production abilities. The provision of output generally did not enhance or hinder the effects of PI, except when more days were devoted to output than to PI. When students dedicated more time to output-oriented class activities than they did to PI, the interpretation results were significantly lower.


acquisition, adquisición, output/producción, processing instruction/instrucción del procesamiento, second language acquisition/adquisición de segundas lenguas, Spanish/español

1. Introduction

This paper describes two studies designed to compare the acquisition of three structures with the infinitive (para / antes de / sin + infinitive) and three with the subjunctive (para que / antes (de) que / sin que + subjunctive) by English-speaking learners of Spanish at the high school level. The acquisition of these structures can be problematic because the words in the learners’ first language (L1) are the same or similar, no matter which structures are used in Spanish.

para = in order to antes de = before sin = without
para que = in order to / so that antes de que = before sin que = without

In the participants’ L1, the subjunctive is not used after the words “before,” “so that,” or “without,” and the infinitive is only used afterwards in one case (“in order to”). The structures with subjunctive are used in Spanish when there is a change of subject. When there is no subject change, the structures with infinitive are required. For these reasons, such structures are resistant to acquisition (Kirk 2007). Faingold (1994) noted that structures like these cause difficulties even for nonnative instructors of Spanish, who sometimes mistakenly use the structure with the subjunctive when there is no change of subject.

Processing instruction (PI) seemed a promising tool to teach these structures for several reasons. First, the grammatical structures in the L1 differ from those in the second language (L2). Second, the structures are acquired late in the L1 (Clancy, Jacobsen, and Silva 1976) as well as in the L2 (Faingold 1994: 29). Third, and of great importance when employing PI, the structures can be placed at the beginning of a sentence. Fourth, lexical redundancy is not [End Page 153] necessary. These last two criteria explain why these structures may prove to be better candidates for PI than earlier studies carried out by Collentine (1998) and Farley (2001, 2004), described in the next section of this article.

The studies described in this current study served to test whether PI aided the acquisition of the structures identified above. They were also key to answering a question asked by Cadierno (1995) nearly two decades ago. If the structured activities used in PI are followed by production (output) practice, what will be the outcome? The answers to this and similar questions are analyzed here. At what point in the learning process should output practice be introduced if it is incorporated with PI? What is an appropriate mix of PI and output practice; that is, how much PI, relative to how much output practice, is desirable?

2. Review of Literature

2.1 Processing Instruction vs. Output Practice

Processing instruction and output practice have indeed been compared in other experiments, with certain groups experiencing PI and other groups using output (e.g., Benati 2005; Morgan-Short and Bowden 2006; Toth 2006). Terms for output practice have included meaning-based output instruction (MOBI) and communicative output (CO).

The results of the studies comparing PI and output instruction have varied to some extent. Benati (2005), who taught the simple past in English to Greek and Chinese children ages 12 to 13, found that PI was superior to MOBI and traditional instruction (TI) in interpretation tasks and equal in production tasks. Morgan-Short and Bowden (2006) used PI and MOBI to teach direct object pronouns in Spanish to first semester college students. They concluded that there was no significant difference between MOBI and PI in interpretation tasks and that MOBI was better than PI in production tasks, although not significantly so. They concluded that meaning-based output instruction can lead to acquisition. Toth (2006) used PI and CO to teach the clitic se in Spanish to first year college students. He found that CO and PI gave similar results in grammatical judgment tests, but that the participants in the CO group used the target structure more often in guided production tasks than those in the PI group. Although these and other researchers have compared the results of PI with output-based instruction, this is the first experiment to do what Cadierno (1995) suggested: add output-based instruction as another step following PI.

There have been relatively few studies published in which the Spanish subjunctive has been taught with PI. Collentine (1998) was the first to publish a study regarding the effects of teaching the subjunctive with PI.1 In addition to a control group, Collentine’s study included a group that learned adjectival clauses through PI and an output-oriented group. The output group’s learning activities required them to employ mechanical tasks followed by communicative tasks. The PI group’s interpretation results were somewhat superior to that of the output group, while the output group’s production scores were slightly higher. However, there was no significant difference between the results of the two groups. Collentine concluded that PI is not superior to output practice when teaching the subjunctive in adjectival clauses. In spite of his findings, Collentine (2010) later noted that PI “appears to be a highly productive methodology with which to foster learners’ (re)awareness of the existence of the subjunctive in input, their understanding of its meaning, and its syntactic distribution” (46).

Farley (2001) conducted a study to compare the results of PI and MOI instruction in the teaching of the subjunctive of doubt. The two groups’ activities were quite similar. For example, in a PI activity, the students had to choose between “Yo sé que...” and “No creo que...” when the instructor said, “...coma en casa mucho.” The MOI group’s task was to produce the verb or [End Page 154] write the subordinate clause, while the PI group had to choose the correct answer. Students had an immediate post-test and a delayed post-test one month later. Farley (2001) first concluded that the results of PI last longer than those of MOI in the teaching of the subjunctive of doubt in interpretation tasks, but that the two tools are equal in production tasks. However, upon further investigation, Farley (2004) failed to find a difference between the two methods, stating that perhaps his MOI activities were too similar to those of the PI group.

Although both Farley (2001, 2004) and Colletine (1998) took measures to follow the guidelines when designing their activities, it is difficult to avoid lexical redundancy in sentences with doubt and the Spanish subjunctive (Farley 2001, 2004), and impossible to place adjectival clauses at the beginning of sentences (Collentine 1998). Another point worth noting is that Collentine’s students were in their second semester of college, which is quite early to study the subjunctive.2

2.2 The Sequencing of Input and Output

Izumi and Bigelow (2000) studied production practice and the role of noticing (Schmidt 1990). The students were studying hypothetical sentences with the conditional in English. Although Izumi and Bigelow (2000) did not use structured input activities in their study (hence, their study does not include PI), it is of interest that they concluded that the sequence input + output + input (I + O + I) should be investigated further. The thought is that the output portion of the sequence will help learners notice what they do not know, and that the following input tasks will provide them with the necessary feedback about proper usage. This study is mentioned here because one of the groups involved in the present study used the sequence PI + O + PI. In other words, both the study by Izumi and Bigelow and one group involved in this study used the sequence I + O + I.

2.3 The Durative Effects of PI

Processing instruction has proved time and again to have lasting effects. These effects can be seen in the pioneer study of PI (VanPatten and Cadierno 1993). They are shown even more clearly in Benati (2001), VanPatten and Fernández (2004), and Arroyo Hernández (2007). Benati (2001) demonstrated that the effects of PI last at least three weeks. VanPatten and Fernández (2004) and Arroyo Hernández (2007) concluded that the results of PI are still in place eight months after instruction takes place.

Benati (2001) compared the effects of PI and output instruction on the acquisition of the future in Italian. He designed instructional materials very carefully to make sure students would connect form and meaning. The group who produced the form (output instruction) received an explanation of the grammar rules, followed by written and oral practice. Part of the production practice was meaning-based. In Benati’s experiment, both the PI and the production groups improved significantly more than the control group. There was no significant difference between the PI and the production groups after three weeks.

VanPatten and Fernández (2004) carried out a study to test the long-term effects of PI. They provided students with explicit information about the target structure and the way students’ natural processing strategies would lead them astray when processing direct object pronouns in Spanish. In a pre-test, immediate post-test, and delayed post-test research design, the students maintained a significant improvement over eight months. The researchers concluded, naturally, that the effects of PI are long lasting.

Arroyo Hernández (2007) compared a PI group with a TI group when teaching the Spanish verbs haber and estar to Italian students of beginning Spanish. Grammatical judgment tests [End Page 155] and a written sample eight months after the conclusion of the treatment showed the PI group’s scores to be significantly higher than those of the TI group. This study differs from most studies because students were required to produce written samples of the target structures in context, in complete sentences and paragraphs. This is yet another example of a study which proves the effects of PI to be durative.

3. Research Questions

There were three main research questions involved in the present studies:

  1. 1. Does output practice in combination with PI lead to enhanced learning, compared to PI alone, as measured by interpretation and production tasks?

  2. 2. Does the sequencing and balance of output practice vis à vis PI affect the results of learning, as measured by interpretation and production tasks?

  3. 3. Are the effects of instruction lasting?

4. Methods and Procedures: First Study

4.1 Participants

The participants in the first study consisted of three groups of Spanish IV (advanced to intermediate)3 students in a highly respected public high school in Minnesota. English was their L1. They ranged in age from 15 to 17, and their teacher was Chilean. After discarding native speakers, those whose parents were native speakers of Spanish, and those who were not in attendance all of the days of the study, the number of participants in each of the three groups were 14, 16, and 13, respectively. It was unnecessary to discard students who scored more than 65% on the pre-test, since no students scored at that level.

4.2 Target Structures and Testing

The grammatical structures included the ones mentioned previously, para / antes de / sin + infinitive, and para que / antes de que / sin que + subjunctive.

Each of the three tests, which included a pre-test and two post-tests, included three interpretation sections (the ability to identify or recognize the structures correctly) and two production sections. Each of the interpretation sections included one example of each of the six target structures, for a total of 18 points. In the first interpretation section there were four distractor items. The second interpretation section did not include distractors. There were two distractor items in the third interpretation section of each test.

Both of the production sections of the tests included one example of each of the six structures, for a total of 12 points. One production section was based on translating the six target structures plus two distractor items, and the other required participants to write a dialogue that included all six structures plus four distractors. A maximum of 25 minutes was allowed for each test. Sample questions from a test can be seen in Appendix B.

Scoring was based on answering the items that tested the target structures correctly. In the interpretation sections, there was one point assigned per correct answer of each target structure (chosen from two or more possible answers). The scoring in the production sections also entailed assigning one point per correct answer to items including the target structures. For example, if the student needed to translate the sentence, “Before he takes a shower, José [End Page 156] shaves,” a point was given to that student if he wrote: “Antes de ducharse, José se afeita.” If a student mistranslated before or, instead of using the correct antes de + infinitive, he wrote antes de que + subjunctive, no point was assigned for that item.

4.3 Instructional Materials

One of VanPatten’s (2004) Principles of Input Processing is that learners process meaning before they process grammatical structures. A researcher who designs structured input materials must avoid lexical repetition. Meaning should be easy to grasp. When at all possible, the target element should be placed at the beginning of a sentence, since learners process the beginning of a sentence first, followed by the last part of the sentence. Researchers should avoid placing target elements in the middle of a sentence since those are the elements that are processed last (VanPatten 2004: 9–14).

In addition to obeying the Principles of Input Processing, VanPatten (2002: 764) stipulates that we must follow several guidelines when we design structured input activities. Those guidelines include the following: 1) present only one element at a time, 2) keep the focus on meaning, 3) include both oral and written components in the activities, 4) require that learners do something with the input, and 5) keep in mind the natural processing strategies of the students. When carrying out structured input activities, an important item of note is that the learners never produce the form being acquired. It is explained to them, they find out how their natural processing strategies stand in their way of acquiring it, they see the form, they hear it, and they work with it in the ways defined by the principles and guidelines described previously, but the learners never produce the target structure.

Structured input activities are designed to distance learners from the way they naturally process input. These strategies may very well be transferred directly from the first language (Schwartz and Sprouse 1996), hindering the acquisition of the linguistic element in the second language. The goal of structured input activities is to convert the natural processing strategies of the learner into strategies that more closely resemble those used by native speakers of the target language. If the structured input activities are designed properly, following every one of the parameters, they should help to establish new processing strategies that will permit the learner’s brain to access the rules of the second language, or help him or her to process the language element much the same way a native speaker does (VanPatten 2002: 764). However, if any one of the guidelines or principles is overlooked, the activities are not proper structured input activities and the outcome will not be as dramatic.

4.4 Referential and Affective Activities

The two types of structured input activities are referential and affective activities. Structured input activities always follow the Principles of Input Processing and the PI guidelines described earlier. Referential activities have right and wrong answers. They make learners focus on meaning and require them to do something with the input. Lexical redundancy should be avoided when designing structured input activities. The target structure is placed at the beginning of the sentence and meaning is easily understood (VanPatten 2002: 766; Wong 2004: 45–52). Examples 1 and 2 are referential activities included in the present study. In example 1, students must identify which picture is being described. In example 2, they must identify the correct translation. These are referential activities because there are right and wrong answers. Additional PI activities used in this study can be seen Appendix A. [End Page 157]

Example 1

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Antes de que llueva, sacan fotos.

‘Before it rains, they take pictures.’

Example 2

Antes de que se acerque, se pone pintalabios.

  1. a. *Before approaching him, she puts on lipstick.

  2. b. Before he approaches, she puts on lipstick.

Although affective activities follow the same principles and guidelines as referential activities, they do not include wrong answers. In affective activities, students often have to mark which are true for them, with all listed answers having the possibility of being correct for some members of the class. Examples 3 and 4 are samples of affective activities. Other examples can be seen in Appendix A.

Example 3

¿Cuáles de los siguientes son verdaderos para el estudiante típico en tu escuela?

Verdadero Falso El estudiante típico va a fiestas...
_____ _____ para ver a sus amigos.
_____ _____ sin saber a qué hora empieza la fiesta.
_____ _____ para que otros estudiantes vean su ropa nueva.

Which of the following are true for a typical student at your school?

True False The typical student goes to parties...
_____ _____ in order to see friends.
_____ _____ without knowing at what time the party begins.
_____ _____ so that other students will see his/her new clothes.

[End Page 158]

Example 4

Sales con alguien por primera vez. ¿Qué haces antes de aceptar la invitación?

  • _____ Antes de aceptar, hablo con mi peluquero.

  • _____ Antes de tomar una decisión, hablo con mis amigos.

  • _____ Sin esperar, acepto la invitación.

You are going out on a first date. What do you do before accepting the invitation?

  • _____ Before accepting, I talk it over with my hair stylist.

  • _____ Before making a decision, I talk with my friends.

  • _____ Without waiting, I accept the invitation.

5. Procedures

Students took a pre-test one week prior to their first day of instruction. As is typical in studies with PI, students were provided with explicit information on the first day of treatment prior to beginning the structured input activities. That explicit information, presented in the target language, included information about how the structures work and why they are difficult for native speakers of English to acquire. The explicit information took about ten minutes to present, and then participants in all groups had their first day of PI with the same structured input activities. The following two days were also instruction days. On each day of instruction the students spent 30–35 minutes completing the instructional materials. Students had learned many other aspects of the subjunctive previously; the knowledge about how to form the subjunctive as well as how to use it after doubt, desire, etc., should have provided a good foundation prior to this study.

The first study included three experimental groups. The first group spent three days in a row completing the structured input activities of PI (PI + PI + PI). The second group’s classroom activities included two days of PI, followed by one day of output, or production practice (PI + PI + O). The output practice was meaning-based4 and it included paired work such as guided dialogues and writing a narration of a series of drawings.5 In each case the participants had to use the structures included in the study plus a few distractor items such as “Es importante que...” and “Quiere que....” The third group’s learning materials were identical to those of the second group but the materials were executed in a different order. On days 1 and 3, the PI activities were completed. On day 2, participants produced the structures (PI + O + PI). The third day of structured input activities carried by the first group (PI + PI + PI) shared the vocabulary and the picture sequences contained in the output activities completed by the other groups. The activities were designed with these similarities in order to avoid introducing additional variables.

Each day of PI started with two or three referential activities, followed by several affective activities.6 Immediately following instruction on day 3, all participants took a post-test. One week later, they all completed another unannounced post-test. There was a positive trend in the results of all three groups from immediate post-test to the post-test one week later. Although the second post-test was not very delayed, this trend would not have been noticed without it.

6. Results

Paired t-tests and repeated measures ANOVAS were used to determine whether there was a significant difference in the progress made from the pre-test to the post-tests in the interpretation scores. All groups improved significantly from the pre-test to the post-tests, and groups 1 and 2 [End Page 159] improved significantly again between the immediate post-test and the second post-test. There was no significant difference between groups.

The results of the production portion of the test show that all groups improved significantly from the pre-test to the immediate post-test and from the pre-test to the second post-test. None of the groups improved significantly from the first post-test to the second, but the p values clearly demonstrate that the results were lasting. There was no significant difference between groups. Table 1 shows the mean interpretation and production scores from each of the three groups.

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Table 1.

Mean Interpretation and Production Scores (Spanish IV)

It is worthwhile to note the comparison of the three groups’ progress from pre-test to immediate post-test (F(2,69)=.159, p=.853), from pre-test to the second post-test (F(2,69)=.292, p=.747), and from the first post-test to the second (F(2,69)=.341, p=.712). The p values were all higher than .050, thus showing no significant difference.

All of the groups learned via two or three days of structured input activities, and all groups improved remarkably. Their improvement continued even after the immediate post-test. No group’s progress was statistically superior to any other. Given these results, we can state unequivocally that PI seems to be an effective tool to teach these structures. Output practice used in addition to PI does not seem to enhance or hinder learning, whether that output practice is used on the second or third day of instruction. The results do appear to be at least somewhat lasting.

Because there were not any significant differences, a second study was designed and carried out to further test the effects of PI and output.

7. Methods and Procedures: Second Study

7.1 Participants, Target Structures, and Testing

The participants in the second experiment were Spanish III students at a private high school in Minnesota. ACTFL Guidelines classify them as intermediate students. They ranged in age from 14 to 18 and were native speakers of English. Students were included based on the same criteria as before, the same target structures were involved, the same tests were employed and they were scored as was described earlier. At the end of the second study, the two groups included 13 and 14 students, respectively.

7.2 Instructional Materials and Procedure

All materials used were identical to those used in the first study except those used by group 5 on the last day of treatment. The production activities used in the first study were also used in the second study. Additional output activities were created following the original criteria because group 5 had an extra day of production practice. Vocabulary and pictures from [End Page 160] the instructional activities used by other groups were incorporated into the output activities. The tests were the same ones used in the first study. The materials and procedure followed by the first group in this study (group 4) were identical to those of PI + PI + PI group described in the previous study. The last group (group 5) was the only group to experience more days of output-based practice than of structured input activities (PI + O + O).

8. Results

The mean interpretation scores of both groups improved significantly. There was a significant difference between groups from pre-test to immediate post-test (p=.02) and from pre-test to the second post-test (p=.003). The participants in group 4 (PI + PI + PI) were able to identify the structures with more accuracy than those in group 5 (PI + O + O).

Although the disparity in the groups’ ability to produce the structures correctly appears considerable, the difference is not statistically significant. This could be because of the small number of participants, but it is also because the students in Spanish III did not attain a high level of acquisition, so the number of points attained on the production portions of the tests was quite low. Group 4 did improve significantly from the pre-test to the immediate post-test (p=0.004) and from the pre-test to the second post-test (p=.010), while group 5 only made significant improvement from the pre-test to the immediate post-test (p=.012). The mean interpretation and production scores from the participants in the second study can be seen in Table 2.

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Table 2.

Mean Interpretation and Production Scores (Spanish III)

The average scores of the students in the second study are considerably lower than those of the scores in the first study (Table 1). This is most likely due to what Collentine (2003: 79) terms the “syntactic deficiency hypothesis,” which explains that most intermediate learners are still in the pre-syntactic stage of language development and that their short-term memory cannot yet simultaneously process complex syntax and the semantic and pragmatic connections that exist between clauses. Collentine (2010) states that “mood selection and the production of the subjunctive seem to resist automatization” (42). Other researchers have made similar findings. For example, Lee and Rodríguez (1997) might argue that the intermediate groups’ scores in this study are lower because the morphological differences between the subjunctive and the indicative are not salient enough. Leow (1993) suggests that advanced learners are able to dedicate more attentional resources to the syntax.

The scores from the students in the first study (groups 1, 2, and 3) continued to improve even after the immediate post-test. However, the same only proved true for one group in the second study (PI + PI + PI). The interpretation scores of the other group (PI + O + O) did not continue to improve after the immediate post-test, but they did not decline either. In terms of output, however, this last group was the only one to experience a decline from the first post-test to the second. [End Page 161]

9. Discussion and Conclusion

This study was carried out to examine the effects of PI followed by production practice, and to determine whether PI would prove a valuable tool with which to teach the target structures. The data demonstrate that PI is helpful in the teaching of the structures with para (que), antes de (que), and sin (que). All groups used PI and all groups showed significant improvements in the ability to interpret and produce the structures in this study.

Regarding the question of whether the provision of output enhances the effects of PI, the answer to this question appears to be negative. No group whose learning activities included production practice outperformed the groups whose activities included only PI. Placing the output practice between two days of PI (PI + O + PI) did not seem to enhance learning.

When students devoted more time to output than to PI (PI + O + O), the results were inferior to those of students who were exposed only to PI. This finding is in line with Benati (2005), whose data showed that PI (alone) was superior to MOBI in interpretation tasks, and equal in production tasks.

When gauging the balance to strike between structured input activities and production practice, the results from the two studies described here show that more time should be spent with structured input activities than with output-based activities. When more time was dedicated to PI than to output activities, the output activities did not seem to enhance or hinder the effects of PI. Dedicating more time to meaning-based output seemed to hinder the effects.

Hence, there are four main conclusions from this study. First of all, the provision of output practice in combination with PI does not lead to enhanced learning compared to PI alone as measured by interpretation and production tasks. Second, sequencing output practice between or after PI does not affect the results of learning as measured by interpretation and production tasks. Third, when more time is dedicated to output-based activities than to PI, the ability to accurately produce the target structures over the long run seems to be adversely affected. Fourth, the effects of all combinations of processing and output instruction are durative as measured one week after instruction by interpretation and production tasks.

The studies described here have three main limitations, which have already been pointed out. Perhaps the biggest limitation is the small number of participants in each group. The second limitation is the low number of possible correct answers on each of the tests, which made it more difficult to prove significant statistical differences between groups. The third limitation is that the second post-test was scheduled just one week after the immediate post-test. This is not long enough to test how lasting the effects are. Another post-test a few weeks, or even months, later would have told a more complete story. That said, the second post-test in this study showed that the effects of instruction continued to rise throughout the week after the treatment ended in all cases except one (PI + O + O).

Future research with an additional delayed post-test at least three weeks after the immediate post-test would be well warranted. Additionally, since this is the first study to compare the effects of PI alone with those of a combination of PI and output practice, researchers might wish to consider testing similar combinations of PI and output practice with different structures and/or languages.

This study began as an attempt to fill two lacunas; structures that typically receive little thought and attention were included and the structured input activities of PI were incorporated along with production activities. This study underscored the value of PI. It also demonstrated that PI is a useful tool with which to teach infinitival phrases and the conjunctional phrases that require the subjunctive in Spanish.

Rachel W. Kirk
Southern Utah University, USA


I wish to express great appreciation to the students who participated in these studies. It is because of students like these that we strive to improve our understanding of second language [End Page 162] acquisition. I am very grateful to Alejandro Díaz Andrade for loaning me his wstudents on many valuable days of class. Many thanks to Liliana Sánchez who constantly pushed for more answers, and to Marta Baralo for her support along the way. Thanks also to Teresa Cadierno for her guidance during the preparation of the materials. Thank you to Bill VanPatten for his willingness to share his wisdom with those new to the field, and to the talented artist Benoit DuBois for providing the beautiful illustrations you see here, as well as many others. Many thanks to James Lee and Eva Rodríguez-González. Finally, thank you to my dear Charlie, without whom this and so many other things would be impossible.


1. Pereira (1996) used PI to teach the subjunctive. Her unpublished doctoral dissertation explained that she taught six uses of the subjunctive to a group of intermediate students of Spanish. Some students received two days of PI while a control group received no instruction. Perhaps because Pereira included so many uses of the subjunctive in the study, there was a very small difference between groups one month later, with PI showing marginally superior results in the descriptive statistics only.

2. Collentine (1995, 2000, 2003, 2010) acknowledges as much with his “syntactic foundation hypothesis.” The few other studies used to teach the subjunctive with PI have typically been carried out at the college level during the third semester (Pereira 1996) or the fourth semester (Farley 2001, 2004), levels equivalent to the third and fourth year high school students in this study.

3. Students’ level was determined according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

4. The output activities in this study were meaning-based, not based on output-oriented enhancement tasks.

5. MOBI does not contain drills. Therefore, while students who completed the output instruction dedicated as much time to the activities as did the students who completed PI activities on the same day, the variable number of times that the students in the output groups produced the target structures was almost undoubtedly inferior to the number of times that students in the PI groups experienced input of the same forms. Leeser (2008) writes that increased attempts contribute positively to Second Language Acquisition (SLA).

6. On the first day of PI, groups were presented with two referential activities and three affective activities. The second day of PI included two referential and four affective activities. Groups that had a third day of PI received three referential and two affective activities. On output days (days with activities devoted to production), students were to include at least two examples of each structure in a conversation (six target structures and four distractor items), and they were to narrate a series of drawings using each structure at least once. Therefore, on PI days, students were presented with each target structure five to six times. While it was possible for students to produce the structures more times than that on output days, they were only required to produce them three times each.

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Izumi, Sinichi, and Martha Bigelow. (2000). “Does Output Promote Noticing and Second Language Acquisition?” TESOL Quarterly 34.2: 239–78. Print.
Kirk, Rachel W. (2007). “‘Para’ y ‘para que’ con verbos en infinitivo y subjuntivo: Un estudio con alumnos anglófonos.” Revista Nebrija de lingüística aplicada a la enseñanza de lenguas aplicadas. Web. 1 Dec. 2007.
Lee, James F., and Renato B. Rodríguez. (1997). “The Effects of Lexemic and Morphosyntactic Modifications on L2 Reading Comprehension and Input Processing.” Contemporary Perspectives on the Acquisition of Spanish. Ed. William R. Glass and Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux. Vol 2. 135–57. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla. Print.
Leeser, Michael. (2008). “Pushed Output, Noticing, and Development of Past Tense Morphology in Content-Based Instruction.” Canadian Modern Language Review 65.2: 195–220. Print.
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———. (2004). “Input Processing in Second Language Acquisition.” Processing Instruction Theory, Research, and Commentary. Ed. Bill VanPatten. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 5–31. Print.
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Wong, Wynne. (2004). “The Nature of Processing Instruction.” Processing Instruction, Theory, Research, and Commentary. Ed. Bill VanPatten. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 33–63. Print. [End Page 164]

Appendix A. Sample PI Activities from One Day of the Study

  1. A. Miren los dibujos. ¿A quién se refiere cada frase? Escriban el nombre correspondiente.

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    1. 1. Antes de entrar en el café mira con cuidado a las personas que están allí. __________________

    2. 2. Para que nadie le robe debe tener más cuidado. __________________

    3. 3. Antes de que entren los otros, está allí. __________________

    4. 4. Sin que los otros se fijen, hace algo. _________________

    5. 5. Sin haber visto el robo se fija en que hay un problema. _________________

    6. 6. Para resolver el problema, viene. _________________

  2. B.

    Seleccionen el significado/la traducción en inglés. [End Page 165]

    Modelo: Quiere que se vaya.
    a. She wants to leave.
    b. She wants him to leave.
    1. 1.

      Para conocer al chico nuevo, va a la fiesta.

      1. a. She is going to the party to meet the new boy.

      2. b. She is going to the party so that the new boy can meet her.

    2. 2.

      Antes de salir, le da su número de teléfono.

      1. a. Before she leaves, she gives him her phone number.

      2. b. Before he leaves, she gives him her phone number.

  3. C.

    Indiquen si las siguientes oraciones concuerdan con lo que Uds. piensan. Compartan sus respuestas con un compañero de clase.

    Sí, me aplica No, no me aplica
    1. Para que mi madre/padre sepa adonde voy, le digo donde es la fiesta. ____________ ____________
    2. Sin omitirle ningún detalle, a mi padre/ madre le hablo de la fiesta al día siguiente. ____________ ____________
    3. Antes de decirme que habrá una fiesta, mis amigos se enteran de (find out about) los detalles. ____________ ____________
    4. Para no preocupar a mis padres, no siempre les digo con quien salgo. ____________ ____________
    5. Sin que yo mire a mi padre, sabe si le digo la verdad. ____________ ____________
    6. Antes de que mis padres se acuesten, vuelvo a casa. ____________ ____________
  4. D.

    ¿Son verdaderas para un estudiante típico de este colegio?

    Cierto Falso
    El estudiante típico va a las fiestas...
    1. antes de saber si irán sus amigos. ____________ ____________
    2. antes de que sus padres se lo prohíban. ____________ ____________
    3. sin que le digan si su ex-novia estará. ____________ ____________
  5. E. A continuación encontrarán algunas opiniones. ¿Con cuáles de ellas están de acuerdo? Marquen esas y luego comparen sus respuestas con las de un compañero.

    En una cita a ciegas debes hablar de algunos temas importantes...

    • ___ antes de salir de la casa.

    • ___ sin pensar en qué piensa la otra persona.

    • ___ para parecer inteligente.

  6. F. La cita. Sales con un chico (o con una chica) por primera vez. Marca las respuestas que mejor crees que te corresponden.

    The instructor reads several questions, including:

    1. 1. ¿Por qué sales con esa persona?

    2. 2. ¿Qué pasa al final de la cita? [End Page 166]

    3. 1. Salgo con él/ella...

      ___ para divertirme.

      ___ para saber cómo es.

      ___ para vengarme de mi novio/a.

    4. 2. ___ Sin pensar, nos besamos en la puerta de la casa.

      ___ Antes de que mi hermano nos vea por la ventana, nos despedimos.

      ___ Sin que nos besemos, se va.

Appendix B. Sample Questions from the Tests

  1. A. Elijan la mejor respuesta.

    1. 1.

      Tal vez estudiar otro idioma...

      1. a. es importante.

      2. b. sea importante.

      3. c. a y b (las dos son correctas)

    2. 2.

      Hay algunas personas que creen que es una buena idea matricular a sus hijos en escuelas bilingües...

      1. a. para aprender dos idiomas.

      2. b. para que aprendan dos idiomas.

      3. c. a y b (las dos son correctas)

    3. 3.

      Los padres de un amigo mío deciden emigrar y no le dicen nada a su hija. Toman la decisión...

      1. a. sin saberlo ella.

      2. b. sin que ella lo sepa.

      3. c. a y b (las dos son correctas)

    4. 4.

      Creo que mi amiga va a enterarse (to find out)...

      1. a. antes de decírselo.

      2. b. antes de que se lo digan.

      3. c. a y b (las dos son correctas)

    5. 5.

      Estudio español...

      1. a. para comunicarme mejor con mis abuelos mexicanos.

      2. b. para que me comunique mejor con mis abuelos mexicanos.

      3. c. a y b (las dos son correctas)

  2. B. Miren cada dibujo y tracen un círculo alrededor de la letra de la oración que mejor lo describe.

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    1. a. Apaga la televisión para estudiar.

    2. b. Apaga la televisión para que estudie. [End Page 167]

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    1. a. No puede comer sin dárselo.

    2. b. No puede comer sin que se lo dé.

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    1. a. Antes de comer el postre, tenemos que comer las verduras.

    2. b. Antes de que empiece a comer el postre, tenemos que comer las verduras.

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    1. a. Le regalan un balón de fútbol para jugar.

    2. b. Le regalan un balón de fútbol para que juegue.

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    1. a. No puedo dormirme sin apagar la luz.

    2. b. No puedo dormirme sin que apague la luz.

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    1. a. El café se prepara antes de despertarse.

    2. b. El café se prepara antes de que se despierte. [End Page 168]

  3. C.

    Una visita a Tikal. (Reading comprehension passage from Terrell 1990: 340–41). Llenen los espacios en blanco con la(s) palabra(s) más adecuada(s) de la lista, según lo que han leído. No usen cada palabra más de una vez.

    antes de duda sin sin que antes de que
    quiere para para que tal vez si
    1. 1. Alejandro le hace preguntas ____________ Adela le cuente algo de su viaje.

    2. 2. Los mayas abandonaron Tikal ____________ llegaran los españoles.

    3. 3. ____________ hubiera causas aparentes para ello, los mayas abandonaron Tikal.

    4. 4. ____________llegar a las ruinas es necesario pasar por la selva.

    5. 5. Según Adela, uno no debe irse de Tikal ____________ ver el palacio ceremonial.

  4. D. Traduzcan estas oraciones al español.

    1. 1. Before he takes a shower, José shaves.

    2. 2. Jaime cannot vote without her friend driving her to city hall.

    3. 3. Rosario gets good grades so that her parents will be proud.

    4. 4. Rosario finishes her homework so that she can go out with her friends.

    5. 5. Before Jorge gets up, his mother prepares breakfast.

    6. 6. Carmen buys a new sweater without knowing how much it costs.

  5. E. Un diálogo. Escriban un diálogo entre un profesor y un alumno. El alumno necesita convencer al profesor de que es imposible entregar la tarea hoy por varias razones. El profesor le dice que el alumno ha tenido toda una semana para terminarla pero le da algunas condiciones que el alumno debe cumplir si quiere recibir crédito.

    Deben usar todas las palabras de la lista en letra cursiva en el diálogo: [End Page 169]

    sin sin que antes de es necesario que es importante
    para que antes de que para quiero quieres