Fri, 19 Jan 2018 12:15:06 +0000Geralde Vincent-BancroftWell, you’ve been studying your target language for a while now, You studied your textbook from beginning to end, you memorised your grammar rules, and learned the vocabulary. You rub your hand thinking you’re ready to handle any situation thrown at you in your second language until you freeze…
Well, you’ve been studying your target language for a while now, You studied your textbook from beginning to end, you memorised your grammar rules, and learned the vocabulary. You rub your hand thinking you’re ready to handle any situation thrown at you in your second language until you freeze unable to sustain a simple conversation with a native speaker. You wonder what just happened.
You’re not alone, my friend, this situation is very common and if we dare to confess, it has happened to all of us, language learners. The reason is simple. We forget the importance of interaction: we don’t include speaking and writing to native speakers in our language practice.
Research on interaction shows that having spontaneous conversations in our target language helps enormously in language acquisition because it connects what we hear and read with what we practice ( oral or written sentences).
When chatting to native speakers, you have the opportunity to receive feedback from them either when they intentionally correct your mistakes ( direct) or when listening back to the way they talk (indirect).This enables you to make changes to your way of expressing yourself the next time you happen to use the same structures.
It is important to point out that this is only possible because of human interaction. That is why, even though you excelled at studying your textbook, you are unable to understand your target language when spoken and interaction becomes impossible.
As a learner you need to create situations where you are exposed consistently to rich comprehensible input in your second language preferably with someone with a higher level than yourself in that language so that the exercise might be profitable.
Negotiation plays an important part. Negotiation is for example when you need to rephrase your sentence for your interlocutor to understand what you meant, or vice versa.
Negotiation is beneficial because it promotes communication:
* It makes learning easier because it helps the learners to notice a “gap” between the received input and the learners output.
* It allows the learners to receive feedback through direct or indirect corrections.
* Recollection of mistakes and their correction is easier.
* It helps in vocabulary acquisition.
* It pushes the learners to improve their speaking skills which is highly beneficial in the long term.
* The learners learn grammar and vocabulary unconsciously ( without much effort).
As you see, interaction has numerous positive effects on learners. It helps develop interpersonal relationships and confidence. it helps in the creative use of the target language, and it plays an important role in mutual understanding. Most importantly, it makes learning more enjoyable, creative and promotes learners’ initiative.
If you want to have a go at interacting in the language you’re studying, DOWNLOAD this FREE Cheat Sheet: Tools to help you immerse in your target language