Child interlanguage discourse: The role of peer interaction

Kalala Kabongo-Mianda, University of Pennsylvania


Following the claim that nonnative speakers' (NNSs) participation in negotiated interaction facilitates comprehension and production processes considered necessary for successful second language (L2) acquisition (Long 1981, 1985), this study investigated two NNS boys as they interacted with each other, other NNS children, and NS peers. The study focused on the incidence of several negotiation features, e.g. comprehension checks and clarification and confirmation requests, and their impact on the boys' L2 production. Based on the finding that adult NNSs negotiated more with each other than with adult NSs (Varonis and Gass 1985), the boys were expected to obtain more opportunities for negotiation from each other and from the other NNSs than from NS peers. Also, based on the claim that syntactic structures develop during negotiation in an L2 (Hatch 1978), the boys were expected to produce more linguistically modified than unmodified syntactic structures. The data consisted of audiotaped speech samples of the boys in interaction with each other, two NNS children, and three KS peers in informal settings. These data were coded for negotiation and syntactic modifications which were then compared across the three interaction types. As was predicted, it was found that the brothers responded with more modified than unmodified syntactic structures during their negotiation. However, contrary to predictions, they received more opportunities for negotiation with NSs than with other NNSs. The finding that NNSs obtained more opportunities for negotiated interaction from NSs than from other NNSs has implications for L2 learning. As NNS children often out-number NS students in the U.S. public schools, they are more likely to interact with other NNSs in their classrooms. Although this study has shown that such interaction provides opportunities for negotiation relevant to language learning, it has also shown that opportunities for NNSs to interact with NSs may be a more efficient resource for their learning.

Subject Area

Language arts|Linguistics|Communication

Recommended Citation

Kabongo-Mianda, Kalala, "Child interlanguage discourse: The role of peer interaction" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9125677.