The Roles of Positive and Negative Evidence in the Development of the English Present Progressive Structure

Sarah Al-Maghrabi, Mona Sabir


The type of linguistic evidence necessary for ultimate L2 attainment has been a major topic of debate. This research investigates the role of negative vs. positive evidence in the acquisition of the affirmative and negative present progressive structures. Following a quasi-experimental design, 49 Saudi EFL learners were divided into three groups: Control Group (n=13), Negative Evidence group (n=15), and Positive Evidence group (n=21). It was hypothesized that negative evidence would be more effective for the acquisition of the present progressive structure than positive evidence, to the point that a significant difference would result between the performance of the two experimental groups. The participants took a pre-test, after which they were given classroom intervention sessions on the use of the English present progressive structure. They then took a post-test. The results show significant differences in the performance of the experimental groups compared to the control group. However, there was no statistical difference between the two experimental groups. Thus, the research supports the importance of the role of negative evidence in teaching L2 when paired with positive evidence. We outline pedagogical implications for further research to determine the extent to which the two types of evidence can be blended in English language classrooms.

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