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INPUT, INTERACTION and SLA

GROUP 6:

11B01096 11B01095

FITRI FAJAR RAHMANIAR GUSRIANTI

GRADUATE PROGRAM STATE UNIVERSITY OF MAKASSAR 2012

It is commonly believed that learning a second language involves learning the rules of grammar of the second language (often in the form of memorization), along with vocabulary items and correct rules of pronunciation (Gas and Selinker, 2001). This view implicitly assumes that language use does not vary from a first language situation to various second language situations, for all that would be needed to successfully carry on a conversation in a second language. Input Earlier conceptualization of second language learning were based on a behaviorist view in which the major driving force of language learning (at least for children) was the language to which learners were exposed (the input). Because in that view, learning a language involved imitations its primary mechanism, the language that surrounded learners was crucial importance. Interest shifted to the internal mechanisms that a learner (children or adult) brings to the language learning situation, which research focusing on innateness and the nature of the innate system. Learners were viewed as creators of language systems; and, at least in the case of children, the input they received was of minor importance. If learners only need to which of a limited number of possibilities are represented in their language, then it is possible that only a few instances of exposure are sufficient to trigger the appropriate language form. As a consequence of this view, the significance of the input was minimized. Corder in Gas and Selingker (2001), made an important distinction between what he called input and intake. Input refers to what is available to the learner, whereas intake refers to what is actually internalized by the learner. Anyone who has been in a situation of learning a second/foreign is familiar with the situation in which the language one hears is totally incomprehensible, to the extent that it may not even be possible to separate the stream of speech into words. Whereas this is input, because it is available to the learner, it is not intake, because it goes in one ear and out the other; it is not integrated into the current learner -language system. This sort of input appears to serve no greater purpose for the learner than does that language that is never heard. Conceptually, one can think of the input as that language (in both, spoken and written form) to which the learner is exposed.

Interaction Another area of SLA research focuses on how interaction contributes to second language acquisition. Interaction refers to communication between individuals, particularly when they are negotiating meaning in order to prevent a breakdown in communication (Ellis, 1999). Research on interaction is conducted within the framework of the Interactive Hypothesis, which states that conversational interaction "facilitates [language] acquisition because it connects input [what learners hear and read]; internal learner capacities, particularly selective attention; and output [what learners produce] in productive ways" (Long in Moss, 2003). Interaction provides learners with opportunities to receive comprehensible input and feedback (Gass, Long, Pica in Moss 2003) as well as to make changes in their own linguistic output (Swain in Moss, 2003). This allows learners to "notice the gap" (Schmidt & Frota in Moss, 2003) between their command of the language and correct, or target-like, use of the language. Empirical research with second language learners supports the contention that engaging in language interactions facilitates second language development. Findings from a study to determine how conversational interaction affects the acquisition of question formation indicate that interaction can increase the pace of acquisition (Mackey in Moss, 2003). Research on interaction includes studies of task-based language learning and teaching and focus on form.

Input/interaction in the classroom setting Input and interaction in classrooms have been investigated by means of interaction analysis, the study of teacher talk, and discourse analysis. Interaction analysis has spawned numerous category systems, some specifically designed for use in language classroom. In general, however, it sheds little light on input and interaction in classroom from the perspectives of SLA. Allwright, for instance, purposes that classroom interaction be accounted for in terms of three types of analysis: 1) a turn taking analysis, 2) a topic analysis, 3) a task analysis. Studies of teacher talk indicate that similar kinds of modifications occur in the teachers language as those observed in foreigner talk, although ungrammatical adjustments may be less common. Also teachers may not be able to tune their speech finely in the one-to-many classroom situation. Discourse analysis shows that many classroom interactions follow an IRF (initiative-respondfeedback) pattern, which restrict the opportunity to negotiate meaning. However, other types of discourse also occur when the L2 is used for social purposes. Considerable differences between natural and classroom environments arise, particularly when the focus is on form in language lessons. These differences are not absolute; they vary in degree according to the type of classroom and also the type of teaching. Learner-centered teaching in subject or immersion classroom can lead to examples of interaction similar to those found in natural settings.

A comparison of natural and classroom language environments There is often a general assumption that natural and classroom settings differ substantially, particularly when the classroom environment involves the formal teaching of a L2. For instance, Corder (1976) writes that learners do not use their interlanguage very often in the classroom for what we may call normal or authentic communicative purposes. The greater part of interlanguage data in the classroom is produced as a result of formal exercises and bears the same relation to the spontaneous communicative use of language as the practicing of tennis strokes does to playing tennis However, although there are clear and obvious differences between natural and classroom environments, it would be wrong to overemphasize these differences. The comparison between natural and classroom environments as sources of input for SLA will depend on the frequency of different types of interaction which occur in each setting. In particular, it will depend upon the type of educational setting in which the L2 learners find themselves. As Krashen (1976)

comments, classrooms can afford opportunities of genuine communicative exchanges, while in natural setting learners can engage in formal study.

The role of input and interaction in SLA The primary factor affecting language acquisition appears to be the input that the learner receives. Stephen Krashen took a very strong position on the importance of input, asserting that comprehensible input is all that is necessary for second-language acquisition. Krashen pointed to studies showing that the length of time a person stays in a foreign country is closely linked with his level of language acquisition. Further evidence for input comes from studies on reading: large amounts of free voluntary reading have a significant positive effect on learners' vocabulary, grammar, and writing. Input is also the mechanism by which people learn languages according to the universal grammar model. The type of input may also be important. One tenet of Krashen's theory is that input should not be grammatically sequenced. He claims that such sequencing, as found in language classrooms where lessons involve practicing a "structure of the day", is not necessary, and may even be harmful. While input is of vital importance, Krashen's assertion that only input matters in secondlanguage acquisition has been contradicted by more recent research. For example, students enrolled in French-language immersion programs in Canada still produced non-native-like grammar when they spoke, even though they had years of meaning-focused lessons and their listening skills were statistically native-level. Output appears to play an important role, and among other things, can help provide learners with feedback, make them concentrate on the form of what they are saying, and help them to automatize their language knowledge. These processes have been codified in the theory of comprehensible output. Researchers have also pointed to interaction in the second language as being important for acquisition. According to Long's interaction hypothesis the conditions for acquisition are especially good when interacting in the second language; specifically, conditions are good when a breakdown in communication occurs and learners must negotiate for meaning. The modifications to speech arising from interactions like this help make input more comprehensible, provide feedback to the learner, and push learners to modify their speech.

Second language acquisition relies on comprehensible input being available to the internal processing mechanisms of the learner (Long, 1983b). The learner's focus must be on meaningful communication and input that contains language forms which are due to be acquired next (Krashen, 1981, 1982). Nevertheless, comprehensible input alone is an insufficient condition for second language acquisition to occur. Input must become intake. Input is data that the second language learner hears and intake is "that portion of the L2 which is assimilated and fed into the interlanguage system" (Ellis, 1985, p.159). Exposure to comprehensible input as posited in Krashsen's Input Hypothesis is therefore not enough (Krashen, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985). Comprehensible input (CI) needs to become intake for learners to develop in their second language (Ellis, 1985; Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991). Those learners who engage in the regular use of their second language and receive the greater quantity of input will most likely demonstrate a greater ability to use their second language (Larsen-Freeman, 1991). Input is made comprehensible through modifying interactional structures rather than through simplifying linguistic input (Long, 1983c). The interaction modifications used by native speakers fall into two broad groups. Firstly, there are conversational strategies to avoid conversational trouble. Secondly, discourse repair tactics may be used to repair conversation when trouble happens. A third group combines strategies and tactics to include a slow pace of speech, stress on key words, and repetition of utterances. Each group contains devices that the native speaker uses in conversations with the non-native speakers to modify the interactional structure. The process of such interactional modifications is described by Long (1983) as "the negotiation of comprehensible input" (p.131). Negotiation that involves the restructuring and modification of interaction may occur when second language learners and their interlocutors have to work to achieve comprehensibility by "repeating a message verbatim, adjusting its syntax, changing its words, or modifying its form and meaning in a host of other ways" (Pica, 1994b, p.494). A number of different ways in exist for investigating the effects of input and interaction in SLA. Many of these, however, necessitate a leap from description of input of language to explanation of its effects. There is little hard research showing whether input and interaction are important, and what aspects of SLA are affected. With regard to the route of SLA, input may facilitate development by (1) providing the learner with ready-made chunks of language to

memorize and later analyze, (2) helping the learner to build vertical constructions, (3) modeling specific grammatical form with high frequency, (4) ensuring that the input is one step ahead for the learners existing knowledge (by providing comprehensible input) and (5) providing the right affective climate to ensure that input becomes intake. With regard to the rate of SLA, a number of studies have investigated the effects of input and interaction, with mixed success. However, there are grounds for thinking that both the quantity and the quality of input are important. The characteristics of an optimal learning environment can be deduced from studies of input and interaction in both first and second language acquisition.