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Social Interaction In The Classroom As A Tool For Learning A Second Language

1043 words - 5 pages

As stated by Fillmore (1979), “A language can be learned only if there is input of the proper sort-for the child second language learner, this is language as it is used in social situations which make sense, and in which the learner is himself involved” (Fillmore, p. 205) In the lesson that was chosen for Juan, ample opportunities for Juan to interact with his partner are given to promote language development through social interaction. The lesson content of “Families” would start out with an inviting song that uses hand gestures to identify the different members that make up families. Juan would work with his self selected partner to pantomime each gesture so that input can be made simplified and made comprehensible as the song is recited over and over. This interactive song would allow Juan to join the group and act as if he understood what was happening. Juan has already considered himself to be the “outsider” of the class and in order to develop the impression that he is indeed worth talking to; he must initiate the invitation to interact before he is able to join the group of students. According to Fillmore (1979), “The way the learner does this is to behave as if he understands, although obviously in the early stages of language learning, he will understand little” (Fillmore, p. 209). The song and hand gestures showed Juan’s motivation and effort to figure out what was being said in the song, which enabled him to start comprehending the language that was being used around him. Fillmore states that this is “the necessary first step in language learning” (Fillmore, 1979, p. 209).
As the lesson continues, Juan and his partner would collaboratively discuss the members in of their families and use this information to create a T-chart so that they will be able to compare and contrast their families. This interaction helps maintain the contact that Juan initiated in the beginning with his partner, and he is able to use the few select chosen words that were introduced in the song. This will give the impression to his partner that he can speak the language. This interaction will develop input for Juan and input is critical to developing his second language acquisition. As stated by Wong and Van Patten (2003), “learners need access to input, that is, meaningful or communicatively-oriented language that they hear or see or attend to for meaning” (Wong and Van Patten, p. 407). This interaction amongst Juan and his partner creates exposure to language in natural ways and therefore limits the number of corrected errors on Juan’s part. The interlocutor (Juan’s partner) will be able to understand most of what Juan is saying and can focus on meaning as Juan tries to convey his messages about the members of his family. As the teacher is walking around, numerous opportunities would be given to stop and join the conversation to mention the types of corrective feedback that may be useful to Juan’s partner in order to elicit more responses...

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