Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Interactional Feedback in Naturalistic Interaction between L2 English Learners

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Interactional Feedback in Naturalistic Interaction between L2 English Learners

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Interactional and small group activities are widely used in second language teaching contexts. It is believed that group work presents learners more opportunity to actually use the target language than teacher fronted activities (McDonough, 2004). Learners provide each other with learning opportunities during pair and group activities. Group activities lessen anxiety in using a second language and the feedback one gets from her/his peers is said to enhance acquisition. Numerous studies support these views and confirm the theories such as interaction hypothesis (Long, 1983, 1985, 1996) and output hypothesis (Swain, 1995). The Interaction Hypothesis claims that second language acquisition is enhanced by having L2 learners negotiate meaning. It is also found that input becomes comprehensible through the speech modifications between native speakers of the target language and learners (Long 1983).

McDonough (2004) examined learner- learner interaction during pair and small group activities in a Thai EFL context in order to find out whether theoretically attributed learning opportunities take place in an intact classroom. Sixteen Thai EFL learners had carried out four pair and small group activities and completed three oral tests over a period of eight weeks. Her study shows that learners who had more involvement with negative feedback and modified output during pair and small group activities demonstrated improved language production particularly in the production of both real and unreal conditionals. The implication of this study is that learners can create language opportunities during task-based interaction and benefit from these opportunities.

Dobao (2014) discusses the opportunities interaction offers for vocabulary learning. This study shows that the knowledge about language was jointly constructed by the participants in both the pair activity and group activity. Dobao looked at 60 learners working as groups of 4 and a further 50 learners working in pairs. Findings show that the groups produced more Language Related Episodes (LREs) than the pairs. Further the study shows that the number of participants in an interactive conversation has no adversary impact on vocabulary learning.

In another study John Bitchner (2004) investigated, the role of negotiation in interaction and the relationship between the negotiation of meaning and language learning. 30 pre-intermediate ESL learners had been asked to repeat two different communication tasks one week and 12 weeks after their first performance. This study confirms that low proficiency ESL learners initiate negotiation routines when they are faced with communication difficulties and they notice the gap between their utterances when they receive target like feedback from their conversational partners. Bitchner found that the learners would modify their utterance following the conversational partners and the instances of successful modification were an indication that learning may have occurred. This study shows that interaction with modified output promote second language learning.

In a study which actually examined how the subject-matter content assists the interactional and linguistic needs of classroom language learners, Pica (2002) shows that subject matter content provides opportunities for interaction particularly with respect to negotiation of meaning. The content-based classes observed in this study partially focused on culture. Since the participants of the small group activity that is observed in the present study come from different cultures and their conversations drew on cultural comparisons in several occasions it was felt that it is relevant and interesting to find how content or themes provide opportunities for interaction and meaning negotiation. The study suggests that although the discussions involved language to discuss the content they did not focus on L2 form to promote L2 learning. It would be interesting to see in the present study what type of meaning negotiation emerges related to cultural comparisons and whether the participants concentrate more on negotiating the bare meaning than focusing on producing more target- like utterances. …

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