The Impact of Interaction on Comprehension

  • Pica T
  • Young R
  • Doughty C
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The study reported in this article compared the comprehension of 16 nonnative speakers (NNSs) of English on directions to a task presented by a native speaker (NS) under two input conditions: premodified input, in the form of a NS baseline lecturette modified by decreased complexity and increased quantity and redundancy, and interactionally modified input, consisting of the NS baseline lecturette without linguistic premodification, but with opportunities for interaction with the NS. It was found that comprehension was best assisted when the content of the directions was repeated and rephrased in interaction; however, reduction in linguistic complexity in the premodified input was not a significant factor in NNSs' comprehension. It was also found that NS-NNS interactional modifications in the form of comprehension and confirmation checks and clarification requests served as a mechanism for NS modification of input, either by encoding or, more frequently, by triggering repetition and rephrasing of input content, and thus played a critical role in comprehension. Results of the study support current theoretical claims regarding the role played by interactional modifications in facilitating second language comprehension. These results also provide guidelines for restructuring interaction in the classroom to serve learners' needs for comprehensible input.

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  • Teresa Pica

  • Richard Young

  • Catherine Doughty

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