Essay on The Interaction Hypothesis (Ih)

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The Interaction Hypothesis (IH) is attributed to Michael Long (1981) is based primarily on the work of Stephen Krashen and Evelyn Hatch. Long emphasized the importance of comprehensible input that was central to Krashen’s Input Hypothesis but claimed that this input was most likely to be acquired during interactions which involved discourse modifications. This claim supported that of Hatch (1978) who showed a direct link between the way learners acquired a second language (l2) and the interactions they are involved in using the L2. The theory also expands on theories concerning the modifications native speakers (NS) make to their language when interacting with non-native speakers (NNS). Henzl (1973) showed that NSs slow their speech …show more content…
However the study was flawed in that it did not take account of the fact that interactional modifications resulted in a greater quantity of input than the premodified input. This discrepancy could be seen to explain the better performance of those learners who were able to negotiate. In 1989, Pica addressed this problem and carried out a similar study where both groups received the same amount of modified input. The results did not show a significant difference in the learners comprehension, but did suggest that negotiation of meaning could be most effective for learners with a low level of L2 competence.
Pica also extended the IH by illustrating the effect of social relationships between the participants in L2 interactions. She showed that interactions were more beneficial to learners if all participants were regarded as having equivalent social status. This theory was summarised by Ellis (1991) as follows; “A situation in which the conversational partners share a symmetrical role relationship affords more opportunities for interactional restructuring.” (pp. 8)
There is considerable evidence to support this part of the IH. Long and Sato (1983) showed that the social imbalance that results from teacher-dominated L2 classes, reduce the opportunity for learners to negotiate meaning. This research was furthered by Van Lier (1988) who proposed task based classroom activities designed to