Role of Interaction in Second Language Acquisition

Topics: Second language acquisition, Linguistics, Language acquisition Pages: 2 (685 words) Published: May 7, 2013
Theorists place different values on the role of interaction in second language acquisition (SLA). Krashen’s (1985, 1994) theory became a predominant influence in both second language teaching practice and later theories. Krashen postulates that SLA is determined by the amount of comprehensible input, that is, one-way input in the second language that is both understandable and at the level just beyond the current linguistic competence of learners. Similar to Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development” (1962), Krashen’s scaffolding theory is referred to as i+1. Viewed as an innatist perspective, this theory maintains that a second language is acquired unconsciously in a manner similar to the acquisition of a first language. According to Krashen (1996), acquiring language is predicated upon the concept of receiving messages learners can understand (1996). Teachers can make language input comprehensible through a variety of strategies, such as linguistic simplification, and the use of realia, visuals, pictures, graphic organizers, and other current ESOL strategies. While Krashen (1994) believes that only one-way comprehensible input is required for SLA, others take an interactionist position acknowledging the role of two-way communication. Pica (1994), Long (1985), and others assert that conversational interaction facilitates SLA under certain conditions. According to Lightbrown and Spada (1999), “When learners are given the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities they are compelled to ‘negotiate for meaning,’ that is, to express and clarify their intentions, thoughts, opinions, etc., in a way which permits them to arrive at a mutual understanding. This is especially true when the learners are working together to accomplish a particular goal . . . “(p. 122). Pica (1994) goes on to say that negotiation is defined as “modification and restructuring that occurs when learners and their interlocutors anticipate, perceive, or experience difficulties in message...
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