Processing Instruction: A review of issues

Muhlisin Rasuki


This paper provides a critical review of Processing Instruction (PI). This type of instructional option was specifically designed to help second/foreign language (L2) learners grasp meaning manifested in the use of particular grammatical forms in a target language effectively through the provision of input. In this way, PI attempts to help learners develop grammatical competence in a target language in ways that foster their comprehension and production skills. The paper starts with outlining main characteristics of PI which distinguish it from other types of L2 grammar instruction. Then, a large body of research attempting to investigate the relative efficacy of PI is scrutinized. The paper concludes with a number of important issues that future studies on PI need to address.


Processing Instruction (PI), Input Processing theory (IP), grammar instruction

Full Text:



Benati, A. (2005). The effects of Processing Instruction, traditional instruction, and Meaning-Output Instruction on the acquisition of the English past simple tense. Language Teaching Research, 9(1), 67-93. doi: 10.1191/1362168805lr154oa

Benati, A. (2015). The effects of re-exposure to instruction and the use of discourse-level interpretation tasks on Processing Instruction and the Japanese passive. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(2), 127-150. doi: 10.1515/iral-2015-0007

Benati, A., & Angelovska, T. (2015). The effects of Processing Instruction on the acquisition of English simple past tense: Age and cognitive task demands. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(2), 249-269. doi: 10.1515/iral-2015-0012

Cadierno, T. (1995). Formal instruction from a processing perspective: An investigation into the Spanish past tense. Modern Language Journal, 79(2), 179–193. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.1995.tb05430.x

Cox, J. G., & Sanz, C. (2015). Deconstructing PI for the ages: Explicit instruction vs. practice in young and older adult bilinguals. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(2), 225-248. doi: 10.1515/iral-2015-0011

Dekeyser, R., & Botana, G. P. (2015). The effectiveness of Processing Instruction in L2 grammar acquisition: A narrative review. Applied Linguistics, 36(3), 290-305. doi: 10.1093/applin/amu071

DeKeyser, R., Salaberry, R., Robinson, P. & Harrington, M. (2002). What gets processed in Processing Instruction? A commentary on Bill VanPatten’s “Processing instruction: An update”. Language Learning, 52(4), 805-823. doi: 10.1111/1467-9922.00204

Ellis, R. (2002). Does form-focused instruction affect the acquisition of implicit knowledge? A review of the research. Studies in second language acquisition, 24(2), 223-236. doi: 10.1017/S0272263102002073

Ellis, R. (2006). Current issues in the teaching of grammar: An SLA perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 83-107. doi: 10.2307/40264512

Farley, A. P. (2001a). Authentic Processing Instruction and the Spanish subjunctive. Hispania, 84(2), 289-299. Retrieved from

Farley, A. P. (2001b). Processing Instruction and Meaning-Based Output Instruction: A comparative study. Studies in Applied Linguistics, 5, 57-93. Retrieved from

Farley, A. P. (2004). The relative effects of processing instruction and meaning-based output instruction. In B. VanPatten (Ed.), Processing instruction: Theory, reserarch, and commentary (pp. 143-168). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.

Keating, G. D., & Farley, A. (2008). Processing Instruction, Meaning-Based Output Instruction, and Meaning-Based Drills: Impacts on classroom L2 acquisition of Spanish object pronouns. Hispania, 91(3), 639–50. Retrieved from

Loschky, L., & Bley-Vroman, R. (1993). Grammar and task-based methodology. In G. Crookes & S. Gass (Eds.), Tasks and Language Learning: Integrating Theory and Practice (pp. 123–167). Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.

Morgan-Short, K., & Bowden, H. W. (2006). Processing Instruction and Meaningful Output-Based Instruction: Effects on second language development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28(1), 31-65. doi: 10.1017/S0272263106060025

Qin, J. (2008). The effect of Processing Instruction and Dictogloss tasks on acquisition of the English passive voice. Language Teaching Research, 12(1), 61-82. doi: 10.1177/1362168807084494

Rasuki, M. (2017). The Incidental Acquisition of English Nominal Structures by a Young EFL Learner under Comprehension-based Lessons. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 6(4), 45-51. doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.4p.45

Shintani, N. (2015). The effectiveness of Processing Instruction and Production-Based Instruction on L2 grammar acquisition: A meta-analysis. Applied Linguistics, 36(3), 306-325. doi: 10.1093/applin/amu067

Shintani, N., (2015b). The incidental grammar acquisition in focus on form and focus on forms instruction for young beginner learners. TESOL Quarterly, 49(1), 115-140. doi: 10.1002/tesq.166

VanPatten, B. (1996). Input processing and grammar instruction: Theory and research. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

VanPatten, B. (2002). Processing instruction: An update. Language Learning, 52(4), 755– 804. doi: 10.1111/1467-9922.00203

VanPatten, B. (ed.) (2004). Processing instruction: Theory, research, and commentary. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

VanPatten, B. (2015a). Foundations of Processing Instruction. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(2), 91-109.

VanPatten, B. (2015b). Input processing in adult SLA. In B. VanPatten & J. Williams (Eds). Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (pp. 113-134). New York, NY: Routledge.

VanPatten, B., & Cadierno, T. (1993). Explicit instruction and input processing. Studies in second language acquisition, 15(02), 225-243. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100011979

VanPatten, B., & Uludag, O. (2011). Transfer of training and processing instruction: From input to output. System, 39(1), 44-53. doi:10.1016/j.system.2011.01.013

VanPatten, B., & Wong, W. (2004). Processing instruction and the French causative: Another replication. In B. VanPatten (Ed.), Processing Instruction: Theory, research, and commentary (pp. 97-118). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

VanPatten, B., Collopy, E., Price, J. E., Borst, S., & Qualin, A. (2013). Explicit information, grammatical sensitivity, and the first‐noun principle: A cross‐linguistic study in processing instruction. The Modern Language Journal, 97(2), 506-527. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2013.12007.x

VanPatten, B., Farmer, J. L., & Clardy, C. L. (2009). Processing instruction and meaning-based output instruction: A response to Keating and Farley (2008). Hispania, 116-126. Retrieved from

VanPatten, B., Inclezan, D., Salazar, H., & Farley, A. P. (2009). Processing Instruction and dictogloss: A study on object pronouns and word order in Spanish. Foreign Language Annals, 42(3), 557-575. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.2009.01033.x

White, J. (2015). Primary and secondary effects of processing instruction on Spanish clitic pronouns. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(2), 151-179. doi: 10.1515/iral-2015-0008

Wong, W. (2004). The nature of Processing Instruction. In B. VanPatten (Ed.), Processing Instruction: Theory, research, and commentary (pp. 33-65). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Wong, W. (2015). Input, input processing, and output: A study with discourse-level input and the French causative. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 53(2), 181-202. doi: 10.1515/iral-2015-0009



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies  

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.