Native Speaker/Non-Native Speaker Conversation in the Second Language Classroom

Long, Michael H.
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Several recent studies of second lanquage acquisition (SLA) and use have focused on native speaker/non-native speaker (NS-NNS) conversation and its role in the acquisition process. Much of that work has been concerned with ways in which samples of the target lanquaqe are made comprehensible to the learner. This interest has been motivated by claims that it is primarily comprehensible input which feeds the acquisition process, language heard but not understood generally being thought to be of little or no use for this purpose. Other similarly motivated research has been conducted on talk by teachers and students. More recently, some explicit comparisons have been made of NS-NNS conversation inside and outside the SL classroom. The purpose of this paper is briefly to review what has been learned by the research so far, and to suggest implications for SL teaching. The paper is in five sections. First, I summarize the evidence in support of what has become known as "the input hypothesis." Second, I describe ways in which input is made comprehensible to the SL learner. Third, I present some research findings which suggest a crucial characteristic of NS-NNS conversation whose product for the learner is comprehensible input. Fourth, I report some work on ESL teaching which looks at how successful classroom discourse is at providing learners with comprehensible input. Fifth, and last, I suggest some ways in which teaching might be improved in this respect.
input hypothesis, english native speaker, english non native speaker, second language classroom, classroom conversation, foreigner talk, elementary school, tesol
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