Classroom discourse in ESL : an analysis
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Research indicates that interest in the language of the classroom has grown steadily over a number of years. It has been motivated by the recognition that the type of language used by the teacher and the type of interactions occurring in the classroom may have an influence on Second Language Acquisition. The discourse occurring in the classroom has, however, often been criticized as being rigid and distorted and consequently differs greatly from the discourse that occurs outside the classroom. Literature dealing with the role of input and interaction in naturalistic language acquisition - both First Language Acquisition and Second Language Acquisition is reviewed in order to establish a basis from which to consider the role of input and interaction in classroom SLA. Important features of "motherese" and "foreigner talk" (discourse occurring in a naturalistic environment) as well as "teacher talk" and "classroom discourse” (discourse occurring in a second language classroom environment) are mentioned in order to determine whether the input and interaction in a naturalistic environment are analogous to the input and interaction occurring in a second language classroom environment. Little is known about the discourse patterns that can occur in a second language classroom in South Africa, therefore, several frameworks that have been used to analyse classroom discourse are discussed and evaluated. A framework is then proposed for use in the analysis of classroom discourse in a second language classroom. The results of the study seem to indicate that classroom input and interaction can and do in certain instances, when the teacher focuses on framework, social and message-oriented goals, resemble the input and interaction occurring in naturalistic settings, although not in the same quantity. When the teacher, therefore, focuses on the above mentioned interaction goals, the discourse patterns that occur facilitate Second Language Acquisition in various degrees. Input is not the only important factor, but interaction is also necessary for successful SLA to occur.
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