Observing the interactive qualities of L2 instructional practices in ESL and FSL classrooms

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Michael Zuniga
Daphnée Simard

Abstract

Discourse features that promote the generation of interactionally modified input and output, such as negotiation for meaning, have been shown to significantly enhance second language acquisition. Research has also identified several characteristics of instructional practices that render them more or less propitious to the generation of these discourse features. While various classroom observation studies have successfully measured the communicative orientation of classroom environments, most of the indicators of interactivity analyzed in those studies were obtained through micro-level discourse analyses and not through macro-level analyses of task-related factors shown to directly influence the interactivity of instructional practices. Such a macro-level scale has potential practical implications for teachers and administrators seeking an efficient tool for assessing and improving the interactivity afforded by a given curriculum. The objective of the present study was therefore to develop macro-level scale to determine the extent to which teachers of French and English as a second language use interaction-friendly instructional practices. Using an observation scheme designed to code data on factors shown to influence interactivity, 63 hours of FSL and ESL classes from secondary schools in the Montreal area were observed and analyzed. Results indicate clear differences between the two groups. While both ESL and FSL classes were less teacher-centered than those observed in previous studies, they were still rated as not-very-interactive. Target language differences showed that the FSL classes were more teacher-centered and characterized by fewer interaction-friendly tasks and activities than the ESL classes. Task characteristics, reasons for ESL and FSL differences and recommendations for improvement are discussed.

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Author Biographies

Michael Zuniga, University of Quebec, Montreal

zuniga.michael_j@uqam.ca

 

Michael Zuniga is an Adjunct Professor of Second Language Acquisition at the Université du Québec à Montréal. His research interests are centred around the relationships between cognitive variables such as attention and memory, emotional variables such as anxiety and self-confidence and second language speech production. His work has appeared in Journal of French Language Studies and Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.

Daphnée Simard, University of Quebec, Montreal

simard.daphnee@uquam.ca


Daphnée Simard is a Full Professor of Second Language Acquisition at the Université du Québec à Montréal and currently the director of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences at UQAM. Her research interests are twofold. First, she investigates the relationship between metalinguistic reflection and second language acquisition. She is also interested in the role played by individual variables such as attentional capacity and memory in second language acquisition. Her work has appeared in Bilingualism, Language and Cognition and Language Learning among others.

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