Learner Perceptions Of Small Group And Pair Work In The ESL Classroom: Implications For Conditions In Second Language Acquisition
Polley, Elissa K
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Second language acquisition (SLA) research finds that small group (SG) and pair work (PW) are essential tools in language learning, specifically creating optimal conditions for negotiation of meaning (e.g., Long, 1985; Pica, et al., 1996). Limited research has focused on learner perceptions playing a part in establishing these conditions. This study examines learner perceptions of participation in SG/PW and the actual character of their participation in creating necessary conditions for SLA. This study involved 29 adult ESL learners enrolled in a private institute. Using focus group discussions, video-recorded SG/PW activities, and "stimulated recall" (Gass & Mackey, 2000), learner perceptions of SG/PW are identified. In addition, learner levels of participation were calculated through conversational "turns" (Edelsky, 1981). Findings show a majority of learners noted communicative breakdown as motivating and it forced them to negotiate for meaning. Further, learners displaying positive perceptions toward SG/PW took more turns, allowing for an opportunity-rich environment for SLA.