L2 classroom talk and second language learning
King, Hanh Tuyet
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Research has shown that classroom interaction enhances the oral proficiency (orcommunicative competence) of learners of a second or foreign language (also calledtarget language or L2). To be proficient in an L2 means that the learner is able to conveya meaningful message that is understood by the listener/interlocutor. This study reportson the development in oral skills of L2 students at the University of Georgia. Twenty L2classrooms involving five languages--Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Russian andSwahili--were involved in the study. Of these, ten classrooms were observed andaudio/video-taped.Out of the five languages, French was considered the easier language to learn andspeak. The students in French seemed to encounter the least difficulty in attaining thedesired level of proficiency. Oral proficiency, in this study, is defined as the ability of thestudent to communicate in the L2 at his/her level of language learning (i.e. beginner orintermediate). At the beginner-level the learner is able to repeat isolated words and/orlearned phrases; to make a two- to three-word sentences. At the intermediate level thelearner is able to make simple sentences of learned material; to ask simple questions onown initiative. This study also affirmed the commonly-accepted assertion that to be aproficient L2 speaker, one needs to speak the L2 often.
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