The Effect of Input Flooding and Explicit Instruction on L2 Acquisition of English Inverse Scope

Mien Jen Wu, Tania Ionin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article investigates how different types of input and instruction can affect L1-Mandarin L2-English learners’ acquisition of English inverse scope. English quantifier–negation sentences such as All the kids didn’t climb the tree are ambiguous between a surface-scope reading (‘none of the kids climbed the tree’) and an inverse-scope reading (‘it is not the case that all the kids climbed the tree’), while the Mandarin equivalent only has the surface-scope reading. Inverse scope can be challenging even for advanced learners, due to its low frequency in naturalistic input and/or its complex form–meaning mapping. The present study implemented an intervention with inverse scope: learners received either input flooding (increased frequency) or explicit instruction (explicit explanations about form–meaning mappings). For learners receiving explicit instruction, acceptance of inverse scope increased significantly after instruction. In contrast, learners receiving input flooding did not show significant improvement; results from debriefing questionnaires indicated that learners in the input flooding group failed to either notice the target structure or further process the input. This suggests that input flooding alone is not as effective as explicit instruction in learning a property that has complex form–meaning mapping, such as inverse scope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • English
  • Mandarin
  • explicit instruction
  • input flooding
  • scope
  • second language acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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