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Conversational Interaction and Second Language Development: Recasts, Responses, and Red Herrings?

Alison MacKey and Jenefer Philp
The Modern Language Journal
Vol. 82, No. 3, Special Issue: The Role of Input and Interaction in Second Language Acquisition (Autumn, 1998), pp. 338-356
DOI: 10.2307/329960
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/329960
Page Count: 19
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Conversational Interaction and Second Language Development: Recasts, Responses, and Red Herrings?
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Abstract

This article examines the effects of negotiated interaction on the production and development of question forms in English as a second language (ESL). The study focused on one feature of interaction, recasts, which have recently been the topic of interactional work in the SLA literature (Long, 1996; Long, Inagaki, & Ortega, this issue; Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Oliver, 1995). The study compared groups of learners who received interactionally modified input with learners who received the same input containing intensive recasts in order to investigate: (a) the effect of recasts on learners' short term interlanguage (IL) development, and (b) the nature and content of learners' responses to recasts. The results suggest that for more advanced learners, interaction with intensive recasts may be more beneficial than interaction alone in facilitating an increase in production of targeted higher-level morphosyntactic forms. These positive developmental effects were found for recasts even though, as is generally acknowledged in the discourse, recasts were usually not repeated and rarely elicited modification by the learners. This study, therefore, suggests that recasts may be beneficial for short term IL development even though they are not incorporated in learners' immediate responses. In fact, the responses may be red herrings.

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