Negotiated input and output. Interaction

2013

Abstract  Among the different explanations of the process of second language acquisition (SLA) that have been put forward in the past decades, the Interaction Hypothesis (Long 1996) is one that claims that there is a strong connection between learners’ engagement in conversational interaction and second language (L2) acquisition. The process of acquisition is held to be facilitated by learners’ participation inmeaningful conversational interaction with other learners or with native speakers (NSs). Negotiation is a special type of conversational interaction that takes place between learners and their interlocutors when one of them indicates that the other’s message has not been successfully conveyed, as illustrated by the well-known example from Pica (1994: 514) in (1): (1) Learner: the windows are crozed NS: the windows have what? Learner: closed NS: crossed? I’m not sure what you are saying there Learner: windows are closed NS: oh the windows are closed oh. Ok, sorry In this conversation between an English L2 learner and an English NS while they are engaged in a task in which they have to describe a picture to their interlocutor, there is clearly a lack of understanding on the part of the NS. This is verbalized in the form of a question in the second line.The learner then produces the word “closed,” which still seems problematic. The NS produces the word “crossed” to compare with “closed”; the learner finally pronounces the word properly and the NS acknowledges that the utterance has been understood. During negotiation both interlocutors attempt to repair communication as they work toward mutual comprehension. The study of conversational interaction among L2 learners and their interlocutors has been central to the study of SLA since the beginning of the 1980s, and numerous empirical studies have claimed to have shown strong links between interaction and learning (e.g. Adams 2007; Mackey 1999; Mackey and Philp 1998; McDonough 2005; see especially Keck, Iberri-Shea, Traci-Ventura and Wa-Mbaleka 2006 and Mackey and Goo’s 2007 meta-analysis of interaction research). The Interaction Hypothesis could be considered a theory, as it tries to explain why interaction and learning might be linked using concepts from other areas of knowledge such as psychology. On the other hand, as Gass and Mackey (2007: 176) observe, researchers are starting to consider the Interaction Hypothesis in terms of a model of SLA, as it describes some of the processes involvedwhen learners are exposed to input, produce output and receive feedback on that output. (See Chapter 30, this volume, for more on this.) We will thus refer to this SLA framework as the Interaction Model (IM). This chapter is organized as follows: Section 10.2 presents an historical overview of the origins of research on the role of learner interaction in language learning, where we will refer to the seminal work by Hatch (1978b) and Long (1980, 1981) and the latter’s important revision of the Interaction Hypothesis (Long 1996). Section 10.3 describes the major theoretical constructs of input, output and feedback and illustrates how interaction is argued to facilitate learning by providing contexts in which learners are exposed to L2 input and are “pushed” (Swain 2005) to make their output more accurate. Interaction also provides learners with an opportunity to negotiate meaning and form with their conversational partners and to receive feedback in response to difficulties that might arise during conversational exchanges. Both negotiation and feedback have been shown to play an important facilitative role in language learning (Mackey 2006; see also Chapters 29 and 30, this volume). Section 10.4 considers several factors that influence conversational interaction and Section 10.5 concludes the chapter, highlighting lines for further research within the IM.


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