Classroom Interaction on Second Language Acquisition – For many years, the language teaching and learning efficiency has become the subject of research about language; and most of the researchers have focused their studies on second language acquisition. It seem that the studies of second language acquisition have compiled into three main approaches; namely comprehensible input from Krashen (1985), comprehensible output by Swain (1985), as well as interaction hypothesis by Long (1996). Producing language output has been regarded as a very important process in language acquisition and learning. However, it has also been noted that not all language output can promote language acquisition and learning. Only under certain circumstances does, the output contribute to improve the target language acquisition (Swain, 1985). To get clearer view about those three main approaches aforementioned, a brief explanation for each is provided below.

The input and output hypothesis

It claims that language input either listening comprehension or reading is practically important in the language program, and therefore the fluency either in speaking or writing in a second language will naturally happen when learners have built up sufficient competence through comprehending input. As cited in Ellis (1994), Tanaka (1991) and Yamazaki (1991), on the nature of input, showed that input facilitates the acquisition of words in the target language; it however, does not help the acquisition of certain syntactic structures.

It is conclusive that comprehensive input is totally essential but insufficient in promoting second language acquisition, and that output can push learners to notice the gap between their interlanguage and target language (Swain, 1985). The output hypothesis concluded that language output may benefit of triggering the learners to pay attention to the target linguistic form in order to express their intended meaning. The main function of the output hypothesis insists that learners may notice the gap in their interlanguage knowledge in an attempt to produce the target language to prompt them to solve their linguistic deficiency in ways that are appropriate in a given context.

The Interaction Hypothesis and classroom interactions

Negotiation for meaning may play the main role as the focus of interaction in Long’s interaction hypothesis (1996). The frequency of occurrence of the target form brings about salience, negative feedback, and input modifications to increase comprehensibility and content predictability. These processes induce ‘noticing’ of new forms, new form-meaning connections, gaps in interlanguage, and mismatch between input and output. He also noted that interaction facilitates comprehension and acquisition of semantically contingent speech and negotiation for meaning. Furthermore, he stresses the importance of the interactional modifications that occur in negotiating meaning.

When creating the tasks, teacher could implement the classroom interactional tasks that can stimulate negotiation for meaning. This kind of task can be one of several useful language-learning activities in which it may be the easiest way to facilitate a learner’s focus on form. The classroom interactional tasks may contain learner classroom participation, group work, teacher talk, role plays, etc.

Empirical studies on language output

Focusing on the function of output, some researchers might use specific linguistic features. Izumi (2002) found that extended opportunities to produce output and receive input can prompt learners’ SLA. He also examined whether output and visual input enhancement, in isolation or in combination, promoted noticing and learning of a second language grammatical form. However, his previous research did not allow the teachers of the participating classes to teach the target form or answer any questions about the target form and did not allow the participants to discuss the target form with other people.

This paper focuses on the interaction in the classroom learning which is largely attributed to social interactionism emphasizing the role of other speakers around the language learner by means of interaction (Congmin, 2013). Richards and Rogers (1986) proposed that interaction has been central to theories of second language learning and pedagogy since the 1980s. However, Vygotsky (1978) fundamentally put the corner stone with his ‘zone of proximal development’ idea referring to ‘the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers’.

Working together with another social interactionist, Vygotsky proposed the concept of mediation concerning on the part played by other significant people in learners’ lives, who enhance their learning by selecting and shaping the learning experiences presented to them (Williams & Burden, 1997). Furthermore, they consider that children are born into a social world, and learning occurs through interaction with other people. Social interactionists recognize the value of interaction in children and attempt to expand the concept of interaction into the classroom setting. The application of social interactionism is manifested in the advocacy for the use of language for communication.

As mentioned earlier in this paper, classroom interaction may play a constructive role in the second language acquisition. Long (1985) clarifies that negotiation is indirectly connected with acquisition: since linguistic/conversational adjustments promote the comprehension of input and comprehensible input promotes acquisition, it can be deduced that linguistic/conversational adjustments promote acquisition. In the process of getting meaning across, one of the interlocutors makes due adjustments by means of simplification and paraphrase whenever there is difficulty of understanding or misunderstanding occurs. These adjustments make input more comprehensible. These types of adjustments call attention to output produced and call for modifications by recourse to interlanguage system (Allwright & Bailey, 1991).

The studies proposed the influences of interaction in the classroom setting. Teacher talk, as inspired by studies of caretaker talk and foreigner talk, is examined and various kinds of analysis are applied to classroom interaction, such as interaction analysis and discourse analysis. It, therefore, has many defects identified. Conventional class is severely criticized for many of its aspects: the stiffness of the triadic interaction sequence, the lack of opportunity for collective negotiation of meaning, etc.. Thus the teachers are called on to encourage similar interactions to those existing in the naturalistic environment. However, characteristics of classroom interaction render this simple solution rather difficult to achieve effect, the classroom as a special learning setting is far more complicated.

Classroom interaction provides opportunities of obtaining input and practicing through its various types of interaction. This determines that the learning outcome should not be measured solely in terms of the quantitative and observable aspect of student’s participation in interaction. Allwright and Bailey (1991) divide student participation behavior into observable activity and unobservable activity. The former is again divided into self-initiated turns and teacher-initiated turns while attention is involved in the unobservable activity of students.

Researchers and teachers alike seem to be obsessed with observable participation, especially the engagement in verbal interaction. Teachers tend to credit voluntary turns with positive evaluation. As for researchers it is a lot easier to collect data for observable behavior and quantify the results. However, more verbal interaction cannot be equated with better achievement. The measurement of progress made in language learning should be fulfilled in the full consideration of learning opportunities. This implies that there are two basic modes of learning in classroom interaction; (1) learning through the direct involvement in interaction and (2) Eavesdropping learning – determined to make sure that all of our learners are equally and fully active contributors to our lessons, because there are likely to be some who think they will learn best by simply paying attention to what other people are saying, rather than by saying very much themselves”.


  1. You can help me find quick material for SMK, especially for teachers and students who live far away from big cities

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