Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cooperative Organization of Strategies for Oral Interaction

Naughton, Diane. "Cooperative Strategy Training and Oral Interaction: Enhancing Small Group Communication in the Language Classroom."

According to SLA theory, social interaction is necessary for language to be transferred from input to output. Small group oral interaction is highly encouraged in language classrooms to facilitate the meaning-making process. However, small group interactions in a classroom are not always as beneficial as theory indicates. For example, some students are less motivated to negotiate meaning and choose instead to substitute a word in their L1.
This article was highlighting a study that taught formally English language learners several strategies for negotiating meaning during small group interaction and measured how much their language production ability improved as a result. They taught strategies from the Cooperative Organization of Strategies for Oral Interaction (COSOI) program. The strategies include: 1) using follow-up questions, 2) requesting and giving clarification, 3) repair "in which learners attempt to recast their own or another's non-target-like utterance in a target-like way," and 4) requesting and giving help (Naughton 172). The study concluded that there is value to formally teaching oral interaction strategies. n particular, strategy 4 was used more frequently by the experimental group. This is probably because "learners need to be encouraged to interact in this way because they are not necessarily oriented toward this type of behavior" (Naughton 177). 
It makes sense to me that learners need to be taught these behaviors. Although a language classroom is a great opportunity for social interaction, interacting in a different language presents several challenges that will likely raise the affective filter and make students less likely to challenge themselves and their partner to negotiate meaning effectively. Encouraging students to use these strategies would probably make those behaviors acceptable in the classroom and thereby facilitate more effective interactions in the L2. 

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