Approaches to Second Language Classroom Interaction Term Paper

Pages: 18 (5181 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

SLA Second Language Aquisition

As the world has become increasingly more global, interests in second language acquisition has also increased. More specifically second language acquisition as it pertains to the second language classroom has become a focal point. The following research will examine three methods that are utilized in Second Language research including conversation analysis, stimulated recall and the Think Aloud Method. For the purposes of this discussion, we will explore the relationship of each approach to theory and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each system. Illustrate your argument through the use of transcribed extracts from second language classroom interaction. Let us begin the discussion with some background information about second language acquisition and second language classrooms.

Second language acquisition and second language classrooms

McLaughlin (1984) explains that a first language is defined as the language that a person speaks that is first chronologically. The author explains that this language can be present for only a brief time in a child's development and may even be forgotten or never used (McLaughlin 1984). In such occurrences, it is often the case that the second chronological language becomes a person's primary language and only language in the course of daily conversation (McLaughlin 1984).

McLaughlin (1984) also asserts that the distinctions between first and second language acquisition do not apply to bilingual children (McLaughlin 1984). A bilingual child is defined as an individual who from birth has been exposed to two different languages. For instance, if a mother speaks Spanish and the father speaks English, the child will learn both languages simultaneously, making them bilingual (McLaughlin 1984).

However, differing processes occur when one language is acquired first and then a subsequent language is acquired. McLaughlin (1984), points put that researchers have differing opinions about the age at which a first language is said to be establish. McLaughlin (1984) asserts that this age is around three and that any language introduced after this time is a second language.

The author contends the distinction between simultaneous acquisition of two languages and successive acquisition of a second language is not always easy to make. Children differ considerably in the rate at which they acquire a first language. Hence a cutoff point based on linguistic and cognitive developmental criteria is preferable to one based on chronological age (Here, however, one confronts the intractable problem of what it means to say that a child (or chimp, for that matter) possesses a language. It seems the better part of wisdom to avoid this quagmire and stay with the three-year criterion (McLaughlin 1984)."

Finally, the author draws a distinction between second language learning and second language acquisition. The author explains that second language acquisition is defined as "the sub- conscious acquisition of a second language in a natural environment (McLaughlin 1984)."On the other hand, second-language learning "refers to conscious learning in a formal classroom situation with feedback, error correction, rule learning, and an artificial linguistic environment that introduces one aspect of the grammar at a time (McLaughlin 1984)." However, the author also explains that the distinction between conscious and subconscious language development is difficult to make because one cannot always determine to what degree learners are aware of what they are acquiring (McLaughlin 1984).

This discussion will address the issues of researching second language acquisition as it relates to the second language classroom. It is important to understand that second language classroom research can be problematic because of the parameters that are placed on researchers. According to Gass and Schachter (1996), since applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field, the research paradigms have been varied, with even the subset of second language classroom research spanning a range of research types. Furthermore, classroom research has also drawn simultaneously from several paradigms, often making it difficult to classify, especially as many researchers do not explicitly state their paradigm (Gass and Schachter 1996)."

The author further assert that second language classroom research works best if researchers have carefully planned the type of research they will conduct. This means the formation of protocols and the role (if any) that the teacher or student will play in research process. The authors assert that it works best if there is a collaborative effort between the teacher and the researcher. Over the next few pages of this discussion, we will explain in detail the theories that are utilized in second language classrooms as it relates to interaction.

Conversation Analysis

Amongst the various theories used to analyze second language interaction in the classroom Conversation analysis (CA) is amongst the most prominent. Conversation analysis is defined as "a form of Analysis of conversational data ACD that accounts for the sequential structure of talk-in-interaction in terms of interlocutors' real-time orientations to the preferential practices that underlie, for participants and consequently also for analysts, the conversational behaviors of turn-taking and repair in different speech exchange systems (Markee 2000)." According to Markee (2000), conversation analysis is a term that is used in many different disciplinary perspectives including interactional sociolinguistics, speech act theory and ethnomethodology and social psychology. The term is synonymous with ethnomethodological orientation or the analysis of conversational data (Markee 2000). The author asserts

The methodology of CA is qualitative and thus subject to the usual evaluation criteria for such research. Beyond this, however, CA attempts to explicate in emic terms the conversational practices that speakers orient to (i.e., the rules of talk they deploy for each other and, by extension, for analysts) by "unpacking" the structure of either single cases or collections of talk-in-interaction. Such cases provide the primary evidence for the asserted existence of particular conversational mechanisms identified by analysts. In short, a case is only convincing to the extent that it is directly motivated by the conversational data presented for analysis (Markee 2000)."

The author explains that the theory of conversational analysis began as a subdiscipline in the 1960's and 1970's (Markee 2000). In the beginning, those researching CA placed most of the emphasis on the organizational structure of normal conversation (Markee 2000). The researchers defined "normal conversation" in terms of the routine conversations that amongst acquaintances and friends in social situations when people were either on the phone or face-to-face (Markee 2000). The early researchers referred to the structure of such conversations in relation to repair practices and turn taking (Markee 2000).

Markee (2000) asserts that from an epistemologically standpoint conversation analysis and ethnography are similar approaches. Both of thes "e approaches focus on the particular rather than the general and also seek to develop a participant's rather than a researcher's perspective on whatever phenomenon is being studied. Developing a participant's perspective involves developing a rich description of context (Markee 2000)." The author explains that the main difference between the two is the manner in which they comprehend context differs (Markee 2000).

For instance, some conversation analysts tend to combine ethnographic information into their analyses because they contend that this information is essential for a complete understanding of talk-in-interaction (Markee 2000). However, those researchers that follow a strictly purist approach to conversational analyst do not incorporate ethnographic account cultures or biographies to make an argument (Markee 2000). With the exception of certain cases in which internal evidence exists in the conversational data to provide a warrant for the inclusion of information related to culture or biographies (Markee 2000).

Analysis utilizing conversational analysis

According to Markee (2000) the minimal tools needed in such an anlysis are audio or video recordings of the individual's talk. These tools are needed because it is the only way to preserve the complexity of conversational behavior. The author also reports that the audio and video data are the primary sources that conversational analyst use (Markee 2000). Markee (2000) also explains that in the past audio recordings were preferred because of the expense and awkwardness of video cameras. For this reason, many early researchers used telephone conversations to transcribe (Markee 2000). In fact, the most well-known transcription utilizing conversational analysis is the "two girls" telephone talk (Markee 2000). The author asserts

By focusing on talk that occurs during telephone calls, researchers were able to circumvent two problems rather neatly. First, the expense involved in conducting research was reduced to manageable levels because audio was already a mature recording technology. Second, because telephone partners do not have access to each others' facial expressions and gestures, audio recordings are well suited to capturing how participants display their mutual understandings to each other by voice alone. However, with the advent of cheaper and better video equipment, video recordings are now the medium of choice, as they allow researchers to see how phenomena such as the direction of participants' eye gaze, facial expressions, and gestures are coordinated with, and indeed are part of, the structure of talk-in-interaction (Markee 2000).

As it relates to the second language classroom a transcript in which conversation analysis was utilized can be found below. In this particular instance, the participants were four Turkish-Danish bilingual 14-year-old 8th grade students. (Steensig 2004) the students were sitting in a classroom performing a task where they were… [END OF PREVIEW]

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