Learning conditions and learning outcomes for second language acquisition: Input, output, and negotiation

Rita Elaine Silver, University of Pennsylvania


This study is motivated by theoretical questions about the role of the linguistic environment on second language acquisition (SLA) (Long, 1996). The study extends existing research by examining three theoretical perspectives on interaction and conditions necessary for SLA. The conditions investigated are input, output, and negotiation. Specifically, this dissertation examines how input processing (VanPatten, 1996), “bare-bones” output (Swain & Lapkin, 1995) and negotiation (Pica 1994) may facilitate ESL interlanguage development. Interlanguage development is investigated with reference to a well-attested implicational hierarchy of ESL question formation (Pienemann & Johnston 1987). Subjects were placed in one of four groups: input processing, bare-bones output, negotiation, or control. Three types of assessment were used: a verbal production test (Mackey, 1994), a written word order test, and a preference (grammaticality judgement) test. A pre test, post test, delayed post test design was implemented. Results from the oral communication test indicated no significant positive effect for either the input treatment or the output treatment A comparison of the negotiation group with the other two treatment groups at the post test found a significant difference. However when compared with a control group, results favoring the negotiation group were not significant at the post test. Important information was gained from post hoc analyses. These revealed (a) significant development for subjects in the negotiation group over the entire period of the study, and (b) a significant delayed gain for subjects in the negotiation group. These gains were not displayed in the results of subjects in the other groups. The results lend empirical support to the proposal that interaction and negotiation may have a delayed effect (Gass & Varonis, 1994). Although the results raise questions about the benefits of the input processing and bare-bones output treatments for development of ESL question forms while highlighting the benefits of negotiation, they should not be interpreted to discount claims about the benefits or necessity of the theoretical orientations with which they are associated. Instead, the methodology and results point out the difficulty of creating treatments and assessment tools which adequately test the theoretical constructs without creating confounds.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Silver, Rita Elaine, "Learning conditions and learning outcomes for second language acquisition: Input, output, and negotiation" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9926200.