Input, Interaction, and the Second Language Learner

Input, Interaction, and the Second Language Learner

Input, Interaction, and the Second Language Learner

Input, Interaction, and the Second Language Learner


This volume provides a definitive view of the relationship between input, interaction, and second language acquisition. In so doing, it should prove useful to those whose major concern is with the acquisition of a second or foreign language as well as for those who are primarily interested in these issues from a pedagogical perspective. The book does not explicate or advocate a particular teaching methodology, but does attempt to lay out some of the underpinnings of what is involved in interaction -- what it is and what purpose it serves.

Research in second language acquisition is concerned with the knowledge that second language learners do and do not acquire and how that knowledge comes about. This book ties these issues together from three perspectives -- input/interaction framework, information-processing, and learnability.


The concept of input is perhaps the single most important concept of second language acquisition. It is trivial to point out that no individual can learn a second language without input of some sort. In fact, no model of second language acquisition does not avail itself of input in trying to explain how learners create second language grammars. Input has been characterized differently in different theories of second language acquisition, ranging from Krashen's model (Krashen, 1980, 1982, 1985), in which input (in the form of comprehensible input) assumes a major role, to studies within the Universal Grammar (UG) framework (e.g., White, 1989b), in which input assumes a lesser but more specific, central role. The goal of this book is to provide a view of the relation between input and interaction, on the one hand, and second language learning, on the other, and, in so doing, to understand both theoretically and empirically the nature and function of input.

The starting point is the uncontroversial premise that second language acquisition is a complex phenomenon that cannot be described in its entirety and in its complexity by any existing model today. What is essential in understanding how individuals go about acquiring second languages is to understand how various research areas and theories relate to one another.

Perhaps the most divisive issue in current language acquisition research (both first and second) is the extent to which acquisition is a function of innateness. Those who adhere to an innateness position maintain that a learner comes to the learning task with structural knowledge that allows . . .

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